September 16, 2011
Muur The One That I Want

The organisers of the 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) have announced the route for next year’s course. The talking point is that it will not contain the Muur van Geraardsbergen climb as the race has been designed to give a new finish, in Oudenaarde instead of Meerbeke, where it has ended since 1973.

So in the absense of both the Muur and the Bosberg, the route takes in the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg three times on a final circuit.

Director of the Centrum Ronde van Vlaanderen in Oudenaarde, Rik Vanwalleghem, told Het Nieuwsblad,

"With Oudenaarde as a finish, the route of the Ronde van Vlaanderen will be completely different in the finale," 

Well, that’s certainly true.

'Mixing Things Up A Bit' fever seems to be spreading around the race directors fraternaity like a venerial disease at a North London Comprehensive school. Tour De France director, Christian Prudhomme, has been spicing up his 3-week grand tour in the past few years, but it is generally accepted that the Grand Boucle has been all the better for it.

Others haven’t been looked on quite as kindly. Take, for instance, Angelo Zomegnan who was removed recently from his role as Giro d’Italia director after seven years in charge. It was he who had toughened the route up, year on year, until finally, this year, the teams and managers said ‘enough is enough’ when faced with the decsent of the Crostis. Following a major row, the stage was removed from the Giro route the night before it was due to take place.

So what to make of the decision to omit the Muur and the Bosberg from the 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen?

I can’t help but liken this to attending a gig by that band you really like and them not playing that really great song that was at number 1 for 18 weeks and that was the only reason you got into them in the first place!

Or perhaps you’ll find it more apposite of me to suggest it’s like being the cycling off-spring of a Herr and Frøken Rasmussen and actually showing up for a whereabouts test.

Or, or, or, yes, I’ve got it; Like the Tour of Flanders without the bloody Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg!

As Inrng pointed out in his piece:

Repeating the same climb again and again is something you see in the Amstel and that’s because the Dutch don’t have too many climbs so they need to reuse them. Doing this in Flanders somehow reduces the romance of the race.

So while there is nothing inherintly wrong about changing the route of a race, there are some aspects of races that shouldn’t be tampered with. Grand Tours are able to dabble in course experiments because the nature of the race allows it. Sometimes the organisers get it right. Other times they get it spectacularly wrong.

However, one day classics, like the Tour of Flanders, should be left alone and their landmarks celebrated for what they are: icons of the sport.

I come back to what I’ve said in this column before. Without the fans, the sponsors don’t sponsor, the riders don’t ride and there would be no races to tamper with. So where was the voice of the fans in this decision?

  1. velocast posted this
Blog comments powered by Disqus