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Belgian trains will stop for Tour of Flanders

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 26, 2013, 23:00 GMT,
Updated:
March 26, 2013, 23:02 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Race:
Tour of Flanders
Tom Boonen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Alessandro Ballan were held up in their pursuit by a train in Paris-Roubaix in 2006

Tom Boonen, Juan Antonio Flecha and Alessandro Ballan were held up in their pursuit by a train in Paris-Roubaix in 2006

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Riders will not have to worry about disqualification at crossings

The riders in the Tour of Flanders will no longer have to worry about the results being skewed by trains holding up the race at any of the many level crossings that pepper the route: the Belgian train operator Infrabel said today that it would hold the trains for the race, rather than the other way around.

"In tiny Flanders it is nearly impossible to organise a race without crossing the tracks," Infrabel spokesman Thomas Baeken told Het Laatste Nieuws. "The Tour of Flanders has eight level crossings. You shouldn't have to worry about a train upsetting the race in the final 50 kilometers."

The decision will avoid a situation last encountered in 2006 at Paris-Roubaix, when Peter Van Petegem, Vladimir Gusev and Leif Hoste were all disqualified after they ignored the flashing lights warning of an arriving train, and crossed the tracks to chase after eventual race winner Fabian Cancellara with 10km left to race. Other riders including Tom Boonen who slipped through the closed crossing arms after the train had passed were not disqualified, igniting controversy.

Baeken said that holding up the trains for the race would cause minimal delays of only a few minutes, and any damage to their reputation, "would be much greater if one of our trains sabotaged the Tour of Flanders."

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Ronde van Vlaanderen