Due to coronavirus, Flanders Classics organisers “have no other choice”
From the ‘Opening Weekend’ at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this month to the Tour of Flanders in April, organisers of Flanders Classics reported on Wednesday, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would cause all of the Spring Classics in Flanders to ban spectators from gathering along the road side.
There are just 10 days until the start of the Classics season, with WorldTour for men and a Pro Series for women, but COVID-19 cases are tenfold down from the peak at the end of October and there are still thousands of new and potentially contagious variant cases every day in Belgium, including the non-essential journey.
“Unfortunately, the current health situation does not yet allow us to cheer on the riders at the start in Ghent, along the course or at the finish in Ninove,” the announcement on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad website reads. “Therefore, we are asking you to follow the opening classic from your couch this year.”
The start and finish will be cut off from the public, and spectators will be blocked by the hills and the cobbled areas. The race calls for a ban on gatherings for more than four persons and needs more than one hour before the race.
“So for once, you will be able to watch the opening classic better on television. The Flanders Classics autumn in 2020 was a success partly thanks to the cycling fans. Help us this year and experience the race from your living room.”
According to Sporza, Governor Carina Van Cauter of East Flanders calls for a ban on any side event.
“There is a ban on gathering together along the course and it is mandatory to wear a mouth mask. All these measures will certainly apply until April 5, the day after the Tour of Flanders. This way the organizers know where they stand.”
“Last year we already had a good exercise with the Tour of Flanders. The strict measures were very well observed then. If the cycling fans do the same this year, starting on 27 February with the Omloop, we will have a fantastic spring of cycling again.”