Cyclo-cross as alternative suggested for Stybar and Cavendish
The cancellation of the 66th edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was the only right decision, according to Wilfried Peeters. The director sportif from the Omega Pharma-Quickstep team said his riders had one day less of racing while emphasizing that racing in this weather would harm the riders more than boost their form.
"It's a logical decision if you look at the weather circumstances. Only the main roads are cleared. The police could not guarantee the safety. The complete cancellation of the event was the only solution. Leaving out the hill zone was another option, but the organizers ruled that out after talking with the police. There's still too much snow," Peeters said.
Peeters felt the situation was not the same, like three years ago when Bobbie Traksel won the donkey race in stormy weather conditions. "Then there were snow showers during the last hours of the race. Now there's already snow before the event. The security of the people is much more important than the race itself," Peeters said.
On the eve of the race, the team had already opted not to have Tom Boonen at the start. Due to a troubled winter, the Belgian star needs as many races as possible to be ready for the Spring Classics season, but riding through the cold didn't fit into that plan. Boonen himself stated right after the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday afternoon that he would probably ride in Kuurne but shortly after that, the team stated that would not be the case.
Peeters explained how the decision was made. "If it would've been 7-8 degrees [Celsius], then we would've let him ride. Now the risks are too high to skip a step by making him race in Kuurne. Tom asked me if we wanted him to race, but I didn't want to force a rider of his status. Is it any good to have a rider pull out at the feed zone?"
"Yesterday evening [Saturday] we agreed that he would not race, also out of respect for Cavendish," Peeters said. "If you ride through these conditions for two hours, that would be already too much. The season isn't over after this race. Riding through this ice water has more cons than pros."
The team will bring its riders back home. For some riders, there's a long trip ahead, including Mark Cavendish. "Cav said he lost one more day. He'll drive to Italy now. He came by train."
"We did ask the organizers of this afternoon's cyclo-cross event in Oostmalle if we could have Zdenek Stybar and Mark Cavendish at the start," Peeters joked.