TheTour of Flanders announced it’s 2007 route yesterday. The announcement included one major exclusion. No, it was not a rider involved in Operation Puerto, it was the famous 11.6% Koppenberg. Having 600m of a course excluded should not be news but then again, this is probably the most famous 600m of vertical rooadway in cycling.
It seems that the repair work done earlier this decade on the Koppenberg climb had deteriorated yet again with the cobbles becoming too wide to race over. Only 10 riders in 2006 were able to make it up without walking.
“As the organizers, we don’t want to run the risk that the sporting development will be too heavily influenced by non-sporting factors. Despite the enormous effort of people and the means to marshal the section, we have to realise that we don’t hold all the factors in our hand. In bad rain and with the current condition of the cobbles, we are asking for trouble.”
I have mixed feelings about the exclusion. I always want to see a race that provides the the ultimate stage on which riders can perform. If the stage is in disrepair, I can’t expext to have their safety put at risk for my enjoyment. I hope the Koppenberg can make a return to De Ronde Van Vlaanderen soon.