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Muur van Geraardsbergen cut from the Tour of Flanders

Joe Robinson
15 Jun 2020

Iconic cobbled climb cut from De Ronde route again

If the rescheduled Tour of Flanders takes place this October, it will be without the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen. This comes after organiser Flanders Classics announced it would be shortening the route from 267km to 241km in response to the altered race calendar caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

With the race's beginning and end set in stone - with a start in Antwerp and finish in Oudenaarde - it was decided the omission of the Kapelmuur was the only viable option if the race was to keep its Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg finish and reduce the race length.

This alteration sees the removal of the Ten Bosse climb while the Valkenberg has been added to the route.

'In order to give teams and riders the opportunity to build in sufficient rest between races that follow each other at a rapid pace in October, Flanders Classics has decided, in consultation with various teams, to shorten the distance of its races slightly,' read a statement from the organiser.

'As a result of the change [to the Tour of Flanders], Tenbosse and the Muur van Geraardsbergen will not be on the menu in October and the Valkenberg will be added to the course.'

This year, Flanders will take place on Sunday 18th October in a new, condensed WorldTour calendar that has been forced to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

It will see the cobbled Monument now overlap with the Giro d'Italia and form part of a 71-day block of racing that contains all three Grand Tours as well as Paris-Roubaix and the Ardennes Classics.

As a balancing act, Flanders Classics has decided to shorten all of its races, including Gent-Wevelgem, but it is the omission of the Muur from Flanders that will cause the most controversy.

After all, the removal of 'The Wall' from the race back in 2012 caused such controversy among the Flandrian fans that 500 fans staged a mock funeral on the climb's cobbled slopes, carrying a coffin to the summit of the climb.

It was reinstated to the race in 2017, albeit at 100km from the finish line. Then, in 2019, it was rumoured that the race would again skip the Muur as local authorities were unwilling to pay for the race to visit, considering its proximity to the finish.

Mayor of Geraardsbergen, Guido De Padt, now believes this dispute over payments between the town and the race is playing out through its omission from the 2020 race.

'We were not aware of Flanders Classics’ intention to change or shorten the course. Let alone that we knew we would fall victim to that. You wrong all those Flemish people… by leaving the Muur out of the course,' explained Mayor De Padt to Sporza.

'The Tour of Flanders has grown with the Muur. And the Muur has grown with the Tour of Flanders. I am not a doom-monger or superstitious but sometimes I get the impression that what happened last year has now played a role. But we don’t want to pay money for a passage 100 kilometres from the finish.'