After a five-year absence, the Muur van Geraardsbergen will return to the Tour of Flanders in 2017.
The famous cobbled climb, so long a defining feature of Belgium’s biggest one-day race, has been absent from ‘De Ronde’ since 2011 but it set to make its return in next year’s edition.
“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 addition to the Muur’s return, race organiser Flanders Classics today announced that the race start would be moved from Brugge to Antwerp, the former having hosted the start since 1998.
“Antwerp is a city with national and international flair, which has really profiled itself as a cycling city, and a sports city by extension”, said Race Director Wim van Herreweghe. “Antwerp combines hip ambiance with gorgeous historical surroundings, something the Tour of Flanders has no trouble identifying with.”
The full route for the 2017 Tour of Flanders is yet to be revealed, but organisers have provided some initial detail. In 2017, the Muur will be the eighth climb of the day, some 100km from the finish. The last time it featured in De Ronde, the Muur was the penultimate climb, 16km from the finish.
The final 75km of the 2016 route will remain in place next year, including two passages of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg before the finish in Oudenaarde.
The return of the Muur van Geraardsbergen (“The Wall of Geraardsbergen”) will be welcomed by many cycling fans, who lamented its removal in 2012 in favour of the Oude Kwaremont/Paterberg finish. The steep, kilometre-long ascent is likely to have less impact on the race than in years past, however, given its distance from the finish.
Race organisers have confirmed that the women’s Tour of Flanders, held at the same time as the men’s race, will also feature the Muur van Geraardsbergen.
The 2017 Tour of Flanders will be the 101st edition of the men’s race and 14th edition of the women’s race. Peter Sagan and Lizzie Armitstead are the reigning champions.