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Tour of Flanders thrown into doubt amid coronavirus epidemic

Flemish Minister for Sport states Tour of Flanders, set to run just two days after the end of a regional ban on sports events, does 'not appear to be feasible.'

The Tour of Flanders has become the next bike race to fall into the crosshairs of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second monument of the season, scheduled for April 5, falls just two days after the end of a government-imposed ban on sporting events in Flanders, a decree that has already seen the cancelation of E3 BinckBank ClassicGent-Wevelgem, and Dwars door Vlaanderen.

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“Let’s be honest: I don’t think it [Tour of Flanders] will be feasible,” said Ben Weyts, Flemish Minister for Sport. “There is some opportunity, but we also have to show a sense of responsibility. ”

“We have to be realistic. You cannot impose measures until April 3 and then organize the largest social festival in Flanders on April 5,” Weyts said on Flemish radio, Friday. “We have to assume that the Ronde will not go through this year, but we are confident that a new date can be found.”

Just as organizers of the E3 BinckBank Classic had postponed preparations of VIP tents and start and finish areas due to fears of cancelation, Flanders Classics has delayed its preparations for De Ronde. Typically, VIP tents on the Oude Kwaremont would have been assembled at this stage, yet are still conspicuously absent. Just as teams are in a holding pattern as the race calendar constantly evolves and empties, Flanders Classics are playing the waiting game.

“For now, we are waiting for further developments,” said Tomas Van Den Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics, Friday.

“There has been a lot of consultation in recent days,” Van Den Spiegel told Het Laaste Nieuws.  “Everyone is aware of the seriousness of the situation. Cycling is not the priority now. The measures will continue until April 3. We take into account that the Tour of Flanders on April 5 will not be ridden. ”

Although Tour of Flanders currently remains on the calendar for April 5, the prospects of it taking place as scheduled look bleak. Although Weyts hinted at the prospect of a re-scheduling of the race, it’s not apparent where it could be moved to. With the autumn looking set to be packed with re-scheduled races such as Milano-Sanremo, which canceled last week, finding feasible dates could prove problematic.