The BinckBank Tour returns today after the organisers were forced to cancel the second stage and redesign the race due to coronavirus.
Late on Tuesday night (September 29), news emerged that the stage two time trial of the race was cancelled as the Netherlands tightened coronavirus restrictions amid a surge in cases.
The organisers were also forced to change stages three and four of the race, as the Dutch regions included in the route banned bike racing to adhere to new government guidelines.
After taking a rest day on Wednesday and some last-minute tweaks to the course, the race will continue on Thursday with a 157km road stage, starting and finish in Aalter, in Belgium on stage three.
The BinckBank Tour traditionally winds its way through both Belgium and the Netherlands over seven stages in August, but this year the race was postponed to late-September and shortened to five stages.
Stage three had initially been scheduled to start in the Dutch town of Philippine, before the coronavirus restrictions in the Netherlands made it impossible.
The organisers have now changed the route so it does not cross into Dutch territory, but instead stays within Belgium where bike racing is still allowed.
Stage four will now be an 8km-long individual time trial around Riemst, replacing a road stage scheduled to finish in Sittard-Geleen.
The final stage on Saturday will remain unchanged.
Spokesperson for the BinckBank Tour, Gert Van Goolen, said: “Just like in Aalter, where we can continue the BinckBank Tour tomorrow / Thursday with a redesigned ride, we are also very grateful to the municipality of Riemst for making this solution possible. It promises to be a great time trial in Limburg. With the help of both Aalter and Riemst, we managed to continue the BinckBank Tour in just half a day. From tomorrow afternoon, the riders will be able to do it again for three days and they will be presented with just as many different rides.”
The restrictions in the Netherlands have also impacted other top tier races, with Amstel Gold Race organisers being forced to cancel the event after it was initially delayed in the spring.