Belgian Classics to take anti-terrorism precautions

Cross streets to be blocked, backpacks checked

Race organisers in Belgium are reacting to world events and uneasiness by taking steps to prevent any possible terrorist attacks on the upcoming spring Classics. Intersecting streets will be blocked, backpacks checked, and additional security forces will be on hand.

The particular nightmare scenario is a vehicle driving into the race or crowds, as happened in Nice in July and at the Berlin Christmas Market in December. Intersections in busy areas will be blocked by trailers and concrete blocks, Het Laatse Nieuws reported.

The emphasis will be at the start and finish points of races, and also on popular climbs.

“This has been prepared in co-operation with the governors and police,” said Wim Van Herreweghe of Flanders Classics, the organiser of the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, among others.

“We need to follow the guidelines that apply to terror level three. In addition to the dozens of policemen who will patrol, we will have 100 stewards to check luggage in public areas.

“New this year is that we must ensure that there are no trucks able to drive onto the course. It is obviously impossible to guarantee this for the entire route, but we will concentrate on places where many people gather, like the Koppenberg, the Kwaremont and the city of Oudenaarde."

Organizers of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and E3 Harelbeke will take similar measures.

Cycling’s first brush with possible terrorism came in May 2015, when Rund um den Finanzplatz Eschborn-Frankfurt was cancelled by police, following the arrest of a married couple they believed were planning an attack on the race.

The bombings at Brussels Airport in March 2016 cast doubt as to whether last year's spring races should be held, with emotions running high on both sides. All the races were run with no incidents.

The Nice terror attack took place on Bastille Day last year, during the Tour de France. That subsequently led to the European Championships being moved from Nice to Plumelec-Morbihan, France.

 

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