Following five years of nonappearance, the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen will again be part of the Tour of Flanders, with race organisers confirming the cobbled climb as one of several changes to the route itinerary, effective from 2017.
Unlike previous editions, when it played a crucial role towards the end of the Belgian Monument, the iconic climb will not make a return to its former place in the itinerary but will instead feature with 100km remaining, with the last 75km to remain unchanged from the 2016 route. The start city has been changed from Bruges to Antwerp, which will play host to the race for the next five years, while Oudenaarde remains the finish location.
“Everyone on the Flanders Classics team worked hard over the past few years for a return of the Muur to the route,” said race director Wim Van Herreweghe. “This updated route is a complete package; it brings the very best of more than a century of the Tour of Flanders together in a single monumental race. In choosing Antwerp, we brought a new twist to the Ronde. The Muur, which is beloved by racers and audience alike, has come back from the past, and the finale so tremendously applauded in past years will remain securely intact.”
While the entire route of the 2017 edition of the Ronde is still to be revealed, the organisers provided an outline of what to expect next April. The Muur will be the eighth climb, located with 100 km remaining, with the first ascension of the Oude Kwaremont, the Leberg, the Berendries, and Tenbosse and preceding it.
In the decisive phases of the race, the peloton will tackle the Oude Kwaremont for the second time, followed by the Paterberg, Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg, and Kruisberg. This will be followed by the final double act of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, before the flat run into Minderbroederstraat in Oudenaarde.
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