Tour of Flanders spectators face backpack ban amid security fears

With Belgium at terror alert level three, organisers at the Tour of Flanders are increasing security at their event, including banning backpacks and coolers

Riders on the Oude Kwaremont at the Tour of Flanders 2015 (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Are you heading out to Belgium to watch the Tour of Flanders on April 3? If so, you might have to leave your backpacks at home as organisers are increasing security.

With Belgium at terror alert level three, and with police involved in an armed conflict with suspected terrorists in the capital Brussels on Tuesday, security is being stepped up at the Flanders race.

According to Joost Duhamel, head of police in the Flemish Ardennes area of East Flanders, backpacks will not be allowed in 'secure areas' along the route, which are located at key points along the route the Oude Kwaremont, the Paterberg, the Kruisberg, the Koppenberg and the finish in Oudenaarde.

The police chief said, quoted on Sporza: “Leave your backpacks at home because you will not get into the secure zones with one; this is a measure intended to increase public safety.”

There is concern that cycling's accessibility for fans could make it a target for terrorists. In April 2015, German race Eschborn-Frankfurt was cancelled after bomb-making materials were found in a house near the route.

So if you're heading to one of the secure areas on April 3, you'll have to shell out for food at the catering facilities on offer at the event.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.