Organisers of Dwars Door Vlaanderen have taken action to prevent riders making illegal use of cycle paths to avoid cobbles, placing barriers along the path on one section of pavé to force riders onto the cobbles.
Flanders Classic, the organisation behind Dwars door Vlaanderen as well as the Tour of Flanders, Ghent-Wevelgem, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, has placed metal barriers along the bike path at the side of the Varentstraat section of cobbles, which will be tackled with 26km to go in Wednesday’s race.
As was the case last year at races such as Le Samyn, the barriers are not placed along the entire length of the cycle path to completely separate it from the cobbles, but are instead placed across the cycle path itself.
According to UCI regulations the “Use of sidewalks/pavements, paths or cycle paths that do not form part of the course” can be punished with a 200CHF fine and/or disqualification from the race.”
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However the issue has still been a source of frustration for commissaires, after large numbers of riders took to the same cycle path along the Varentstraat sector of cobbles during Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Speaking after that race in February, chief commissaire Jacky Botton said that officials were in a difficult position when so many riders flouted the rules, and that organisers needed to do more to prevent riders from avoiding the cobbles in the first place.
“My personal opinion is that these UCI rules are simply not applicable in Belgium. What can you do? Disqualify them all? That is impossible without a video referee. And even with a video referee I wouldn’t see everyone,” he said.
“In the local circuit [around Kuurne] there were two crashes because the riders wanted to [use the pavement to] take a shortcut. I told the organisers that they should prevent this in the future [using barriers].”