The 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was cancelled after the police and organizers couldn’t guarantee the safety of riders and followers due to the snow-covered Flemish roads.
The race traditionally follows Omloop Het Nieuwsblad -the opener of the Belgian cycling season but just as in 1986 and 1993, the weather put a stop to the weekend of racing.
The cancellation of the event is both an emotional and financial blow for the organizers.
“Next year we’ll be back for the 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. This is not the end of our race,” Jos Callens, spokesman of the organization said on the start podium after the decision to cancel the race was confirmed.
The decision to cancel Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne didn’t come as a major surprise. In the days before the race the organizers had expected and planned for bad weather, making a plan B without the hill part of the race route. On Sunday morning more snow than expected fell in Flanders, leaving no other option than to cancel the race.
“The impact of this decision is mainly emotional. It’s not a disaster as there are no casualties – maybe because we cancelled the race – but emotionally it’s hard. Changing the course was no option because then you have to move people around to other spots to secure the course and that could have resulted in chaos,” Callens said.
Before the outcome of the meeting where the cancellation was decided Callens stated that the loss of this year's race would not have severe financial repercussions.
“Of course there are some money we will not be able to claim back. Much depends on the agreements with the sponsors. Part of the deal is made before the race with visibility through pre-race advertisement. We have a good relation with our sponsors too,” Callens said.
“There’s also VIP-hospitality and that’s not cancelled. There are 500-600 people at the start. Then 600 more people will have a VIP lunch. Then there’s also a dinner and a reception for 750 people. Everything is ready and we’re not going to throw that all away. All these activities will go on. The people there said they don’t need a race. Of course some people will not show up as they prefer to stay in their couch at home."
While some money would be recovered through the VIP events, a lot of money will never be recovered since the organizers apparently opted not to take out insurance for a possible race cancellation this year.
“There are financial repercussions but it’s too early to say something about that,” Callens said after the decision was made. During a television interview he was asked about the insurance.
“You can take an insurance for a cancellation. Did we take it this year? I can’t answer that question right now,” Callens said.
It’s the third time since 1945 that Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne will not be ridden. In 1986 and 1993 the race was cancelled as well. Last year then world champion Mark Cavendish won the Belgian race.