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Spectators asked to stay away from Sunday's Tour of Flanders
Flanders' biggest cycle race, the Ronde van Vlaanderen or Tour of Flanders, takes place on Sunday. The event was postponed from April due to Covid-19, and the ongoing restrictions for public health mean that the usual crowds will be unable to watch the race in person.
The teams headed out for a reconnaissance ride on Thursday (pictured), along brutal cobbled hills that would normally be packed with cheering spectators crowded close together.
“Last year we had 40,000 spectators in Kluisbergen alone,” said local mayor Philippe Willequet. “They now all have to stick to the agreements and stay away. We will not allow anyone on the Oude Kwaremont or the Patersberg. The police are preparing to stop people if they try.”
Maarkedal mayor Joris Nachtergaele told VRT: “We mayors must all give a clear signal, otherwise the situation will get out of control. The Ronde is a social occasion here. People meet families and friends and organise barbecues. Bed and breakfasts are fully booked. We cannot allow all these people on the hills.”
Organisers were concerned that there would be a repeat of scenes from last month’s Tour de France, when spectators packed tightly together along the route and screamed encouragement at the passing riders. They are asking people to stay at home instead and watch the one-day classic on TV.
However, one hotel along the route is enjoying a boost from fans eager for a piece of the action. “When the new date was announced in March, all our rooms sold out in a couple of hours,” said Pieter Loose, manager of Sporthotel Ten Hotond in Kluisbergen. “The hotel is starting to fill up now. With the preparations for Sunday, lots of people are already coming to see the slopes and the cobblestone sections.”
Photo: Belga/Dirk Waem