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“This is a beautiful, attractive course. It’s a parcours that’s more in line with tradition. The fans will be satisfied with it. It will provide a good race," Cancellara tells Het Nieuwsblad

Photo: Sirotti












21.11.2013 @ 17:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Yesterday's announcement that the Tour of Flanders course will be changed for the 2014 edition has been praised by some of the main contenders in the Flemish classic. While defending champion Fabian Cancellara is happy to see the race return to a more traditional format, several riders appreciate the fact that the Koppenberg is low located closer to the finish.


Yesterday the organizers of the Tour of Flanders announced that the course for the Flemish classic will be altered for the 2014 edition of the race. After two years with a circuit containing the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg playing the role as the decider, the race will skip this format in 2014.


The two feared hellingen will once again be covered more than once - the Kwaremont will be climbed three times, the Paterberg twice - and will still be the final two challenges in the 259km race. However, there will be several new climbs in between the final two passages of the duo and many of the long, flat stretches that have led to a conservative race in the past two seasons, have been removed.


Many riders when critical when the organizers announced their decision to skip the Muur and the Bosberg for the 2012 edition of the race. This time the reaction is completely different, with the course receiving much praise from the several past winners.


Fabian Cancellara has won on both the old course and the new one and he is happy to see the race return to a more traditional format where the race won't be decided on a circuit.


“This is a beautiful, attractive course," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "It’s a parcours that’s more in line with tradition. The fans will be satisfied with it. It will provide a good race."


The change that has attracted most attention is the fact that the feared Koppenberg will now be located just 45km from the finish. In past editions, it has always been climbed much earlier in the race but is now expected to blow the race apart in the finale.


Nick Nuyens was the last rider to win on the old course but injuries has prevented him from riding on the new one. He expects the Koppenberg to provide a true spectacle.


“In the past, it was too far out to play a role, but now it can force a selection,” he said. “Some riders might get back on afterwards, but far fewer than before.”


The new course has been criticised because most riders preferred to wait to the final passage of the Kwaremont and the Paterberg to show their cards. Triple winner expects things to be different in the future.


“Riders were very hesitant on the current finale, they tended to wait and it led to a boring race,” hetold Het Laatste Nieuws. “Now it will be completely different. Riders get the chance to blow things open from the Koppenberg on.”


Stijn Devolder is a former double Tour of Flanders champion but has struggled in recent years. In 2013, he showed glimpses of his former self when he played an important role for Cancellara during the Swiss' winning ride.


He expects the race to be tougher in the future.


“The harder, the better,” he said. “I think it’s a good course.”


Greg Van Avermaet is not a former winner but a perennial contender in the race. He has been highly critical of the changed course and is happy to see the organizers make important alterations.


“In the last two editions of De Ronde, you rode with the brakes on," he told Het Nieuwsblad. "You could attack but there was nowhere to go. You could only try something from the second time up the Paterberg, but everybody knew what was coming there. The new course makes it harder. Yes, I’m enthusiastic about it. Also because it could hardly be worse.”


The Tour of Flanders will take place on April 6.



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