The end of season Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen race looks set to disappear after the organisers admitted they are too old to continue to put on the one-day race. The organising committee secretary Eddy Carpentier has called for anyone interested in saving the race to step forward but warned that they will have raise of 150,000 Euro to cover the costs.
"If there are people who want to take it over from us, they are welcome," Sporza reported Carpentier as saying. "The organising committee will be disbanded. The seven members of our association are all getting older and some begin to suffer with their health. There are still people who want to continue but they want to do it alone and that’s is why we have decided it to put things on hold.”
News of the demise of the Belgian race comes less than 24 hours after the cancellation of this year’s La Méditerranéenne due to funding and organisational problems. The loss of La Méditerranéenne further widens the hole in the racing schedule in February that opened up after the Tour of Qatar was cancelled. Other races in Europe are also struggling to survive due to higher police costs and a lack of funding from local authorities, who have lost funding from central government.
The Nationale Sluitingsprijs Putte-Kapellen is traditionally held north of Antwerp, on the border between Belgium and the Netherlands and brings down the curtain on the Belgian racing season. The race was first held in 1929 and winners include Eddy Merckx, Herman Van Springel and Adri van der Poel. Britain’s Adam Blythe won in 2010 and Nacer Bouhanni won in 2015.
Roy Jans was the final winner in 2016 with the event attracting a crowd of thousands who, like at most Belgian races, watched from the roadside while enjoying drinks and frites. The race was scheduled for October 17 this year, two days before he start of the new Tour of Guangxi WorldTour race in China.
"I have given 35 years of service. From a simple kermesse Putte-Kapellen it became a 1.1 category race, with a lot of big names at the start and on the roll of honour. If I’m guilty of anything, it’s of not standing still. We’re a small town, so we had to work hard without much help to cover our budget. Because we didn’t charge (to see the race), we did it with sponsorship. But if you want to organize the race you need around 150,000 Euro, that's a lot of money.”
Carpentier seems determined to step down but is hoping someone will step up to take over his role and some how save the race.
“Putte-Kapellen is a historic race, I would like to see it survive in some way. We’d be happy for interested buyers and organizers to come to us,” he said. "I hope that someone takes over the organization. It is not because we quit that I want the race to disappear."