BinckBank Tour organisers have announced revised plans for this year’s race after today’s second stage was cancelled due to stricter coronavirus measures being introduced in The Netherlands.
The second stage of the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour race had been due to see riders complete a 11 kilometre individual time trial in Vlissingen.
The Dutch Government has advised against non-essential travel between Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague due to a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.
Large gatherings have also been banned.
The latest restrictions have also led to the cancellation of the Amstel Gold Race men’s and women’s events, which were scheduled to take place on October 10.
The UCI confirmed the cancellation of the one-day WorldTour races at the request of the race organiser.
BinckBank Tour organisers are seeking to continue the stage race, despite having been forced to make today a rest day.
Golazo, which oversees the organisation of the race, said they had made a full commitment to organise an edition with practically no spectators.
Fans were also urged to watch the stages on the television and not take their places along the course, with the organisation adding that it had deployed plenty of extra resources and people for that exact purpose.
"It goes without saying that we are extremely disappointed with the decision that has been taken, especially in view of the timing,” said Gert Van Goolen from Golazo.
“The experience of cycling races comes predominantly at the start and finish and spectators had been banned from those areas in this BinckBank Tour, as has been requested explicitly in the Netherlands in the meantime.
“We are convinced that we had found a safe and responsible solution for organising a good BinckBank Tour, but sadly this fell on deaf ears."
Riders were due to contest a 173.40km stage tomorrow which would have taken the peloton from Philippine in The Netherlands to Aalter in East-Flanders.
Organisers acknowledged the stage was not possible, along with the fourth stage from the Belgian town of Riemst and to the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park in the Dutch town of Sittard-Geleen.
Updated plans for the stages have now been confirmed by organisers.
Aalter has agreed to host the whole of tomorrow’s stage, having initially been due to serve as the finishing town.
The College of Mayors and Aldermen of Aalter agreed to accept a proposal for riders to complete seven laps of a local circuit instead of three times.
Tomorrow’s stage will be 145km.
"We are working together with Golazo in organising a major cycling race for the seventh time this year, we love road racing here in Aalter,” said Dirk De Smul, an Aalter alderman.
“That is why we as a college were able to immediately throw our weight behind the proposal of starting here tomorrow too and to ride the entire stage on our territory along the scheduled local circuit.
“Together with our events department and the local police services we will do our utmost - even under the current circumstances - to offer the perfect cycle racing experience.
“Our inhabitants can enjoy the experience too, but we will ensure that the safety measures are strictly complied with all along the course and that everybody maintains a safe distance from one another and wears a face mask."
Organisers have also confirmed a revised fourth stage will see Riemst host an 8.1 kilometre individual time trial.
"Just like in Aalter, where we can continue the BinckBank Tour tomorrow with a redesigned ride, we are also very grateful to the municipality of Riemst for making this solution possible.
“It promises to be a great time trial in Limburg.
“With the help of both Aalter and Riemst, we managed to continue the BinckBank Tour in just half a day.
“From tomorrow afternoon, the riders will be able to do it again for three days and they will be presented with just as many different rides."
The final 187.64km stage is expected to be unchanged.
The stage will depart from the Belgian town of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve and then finish with four laps around Geraardsbergen climbing three ascents of the Denderoordstraat, Bosberg and the Muur van Geraardsbergen.