After an absence of five years, the Muur van Geraardsbergen will again feature in the Tour of Flanders, with race organisers confirming the cobbled climb as one of several changes to the parcours to take effect from 2017.
The iconic and photogenic climb, which has provided so many memorable moments in Flanders history, will not return to its former place in the parcours but will instead feature with 100km remaining, with the last 75km to remain unchanged from the 2016 route. The start city has been changed from Bruges to Antwerp, which will play host to the race for the next five years, while Oudenaarde remains the finish location.
"Everyone on the Flanders Classics team worked hard over the past few years for a return of the Muur to the route," said race director Wim Van Herreweghe. "This updated route is a complete package; it brings the very best of more than a century of the Tour of Flanders together in a single monumental race.
"In choosing Antwerp, we brought a new twist to the Ronde. The Muur, which is beloved by racers and audience alike, has come back from the past, and the finale so tremendously applauded in past years will remain securely intact."
Organisers said the full route for the 2017 edition will be finalised at the end of the summer but they provided an outline of what to expect next April. The Muur will be the eighth climb, located with 100km remaining, with the first ascension of the Oude Kwaremont, the Leberg, the Berendries, and Tenbosse and preceding it.
The finale of the race will see the peloton tackle the Oude Kwaremont for the second time, followed by the Paterberg, Koppenberg, Steenbeekdries, Taaienberg, and Kruisberg. Then comes the final double act of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg, before the flat run into Minderbroederstraat in Oudenaarde.
It was also confirmed that the Muur will feature in the Women's Tour of Flanders, which will take place on the same day ahead of the men's race.
Bruges has been the start town since 1998 - after spells at Sint-Niklaas and Ghent - but the organisers felt it was time for 'a breath of fresh air'.
"The memorable 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders in 2016 was the perfect close to this chapter," said Van Herreweghe. "We look fondly back on 18 fantastic years and definitely wouldn’t rule out that there’s still a future sequel to this story in the works.
"Antwerp is a city with national and international flair, which has really profiled itself as a cycling city, and a sports city by extension," he added.
"Antwerp combines hip ambiance with gorgeous historical surroundings, something the Tour of Flanders has no trouble identifying with. That's why the start at the Grote Markt lends itself perfectly to putting this unique mix in the spotlight."