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Francesco Chicchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) celebrates his sprint victory at the Handzame Classic.
Belgian semi-classic to go on with alterations
The unusually late winter weather in Northern Europe has led organisers to alter the course for the Handzame Classic, leading to the removal of a section of hills added to the parcours this year.
The same snow led to the cancellation of the Nokere Koerse on Wednesday, but tomorrow's UCI 1.1 race is still due to take place, albeit on a slightly easier course and on roads wide enough to allow for better snow removal.
The bad conditions eliminated a number of sharp climbs in the mid-point of the race near Westouter that were introduced for the 2013 edition.
"Last night we thought we could still go with the new course," said organiser Bert Pattyn, "but a new snowfall prompted us to change our decision."
The race will commence from Bredene as planned, but rather than head into the hills, the riders will go straight through Oostende and Torhout, and then complete nine local laps for a total of 190km.
The harsh late-winter weather has led to the cancellation of a number of European races, including the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, GP di Lugano, Dwars door Drenthe and Nokere Koerse.