Plans for a “corona-proof” time trial have been abandoned after proving controversial with the Belgian cycling authorities.
A group of Belgian pros who call themselves ‘De Gentsche Wielerterroristen’, which translates as the Ghent Cycling Terrorists, had announced plans for an individual timed race on a 17km course around the city later this week, with results being taken from social platform Strava.
But the event, which was set to feature Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling), Yyves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb), has now been abandoned after the Belgian cycling federation intervened.
Under-23 rider Jules Hesters explained the event to Het Laatste Nieuws (opens in new tab): “We’ve been unable to race for a long time and were looking for a fun way to simulate the spirit of a race.
“All you need to do is pass the selected points at your chosen time on Friday during your planned ride, give yourself the best time on that route and post your ride on Strava. We’ll put the times into a classification in the evening.
“There are no prizes this is purely for fun.”
Hesters and his companions believed the risk to public health would be small as riders would complete the course at different times and shouldn’t come into contact with anyone.
The group also had plans to extend the event to amateur cyclists, who could post their own times online, even mocking up their own event poster based on the 2020 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne advert.
But the announcement was almost immediately shut down by the Interfederal Coordination Cell, a combination of the Belgian, Flanders and Walloon cycling federations.
A statement from the federations, released on Monday (April 27), said: “We would like to point out that every form of cycling race - as stipulated in the Royal Decree - is and will remain prohibited. This also applies to competitions with a timekeeping.
“The Interfederal Coordination Cell therefore distances itself from the today announced and unlicensed time race on May 1. That such an event would take place during a period in which the population is being asked to make heavy sacrifices is certainly inappropriate.”
In response, De Gentsche Wielerterroristen released a statement on Instagram, saying: “We are shocked by the negative comments that our playful action has caused.
“We have immediately decided to cancel the event.”
The group also apologised for using the poster from Kuurne.
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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