Tour of Flanders Espoirs cancelled indefinitely

The race's date, location and lack of young riders are all factors in the organiser's decision

Tour of Flanders U23 Espoirs cancelled
(Image credit: PA Images)

Organisers have discontinued the Tour of Flanders Espoirs, a race for under-23 riders, due to multiple difficulties they faced in trying to fulfill the event each year.

Held a week after the Tour of Flanders main race in early April, the Tour of Flanders Espoirs typically fell on the same date as Paris-Roubaix, meaning it didn't garner the desired attention. 

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Also, there are difficulties with organising the event in the city of Oudenaarde, where the race starts and finishes, just a week after the main race. Closing main roads in this Flanders municipality two weekends in a row caused problems in itself, and young riders increasingly skipped the Espoirs event to compete or focus on other races.

Consequently, Flanders Classics, which organises the event along with several other races in the region, concluded that it couldn't justify the continuation of the race. 

Wim Van Herreweghe of Flanders Classics said: "It's a bad date. It fell at the same time as the Paris-Roubaix weekend. For the city of Oudenaarde, it is difficult to organise two big events in two weeks. 

"We are not oblivious to the fact that we are seeing more and more Juniors skipping the U21 category, but we are keeping the Kattekoers in the Nations Cup and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in the U23 Road Series."

Race organisers initially withdrew from the UCI Nations Cup Espoirs competition to continue in 1.2U, but they have now decided to focus on other categories and discontinue this particular event.

The Belgian cycling race was created in 1996 for under-23 riders, succeeding the Tour of Flanders Amateurs held from 1936 to 1995. The event traditionally took place a week after the professional race of the Tour of Flanders, but multiple factors led to organisers Flanders Classic to conclude that the race was no longer worthwhile. 

Andreas Stokbro of Denmark won the last Tour of Flanders Espoirs in 2019, with the pandemic causing the race's postponement for the last two years before its subsequent cancellation altogether.