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Classics with crowds in 2022? Officials are optimistic for Belgian racing

New Belgian COVID regulations give renewed hope that classics racing may see spectators at the roadside this spring.

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Classics fans, have hope.

Belgian one-dayers may see full crowds along the cobbles this spring.

A shift in COVID regulations in Belgium this week raises hopes that the full carnival crazy of the classics may return in 2022 after two years of absence.

New coronavirus rules mean that fans will be permitted at outdoor sporting events as of January 28, including road and ‘cross races.

The question remains as to whether the new laws will still apply for the “opening weekend of the classics” at the end of February as Omicron continues to tear through Europe, but experts are remaining optimistic.

“Omloop Het Nieuwsblad? A more or less normal course of events should still be possible at the end of February. The public will certainly be able to attend, even tents with VIPs, provided there is good air hygiene,” virologist Marc van Ranst told Het Nieuwsblad this week. “A Tour of Flanders with a large audience and many people in tents should also succeed.”

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The new Belgian regulations require spectators to use the face masks that have now become such a fixture of race photos worldwide. A “Covid Safe Ticket” proving vaccination will also be needed.

The UCI also updated its COVID policy Friday as cycling rolls into its third pandemic season.

‘Cross fans are in choruses of joy as they ready to attend races next weekend. The four-week countdown to Omloop is on.