The Baloise Belgium Tour will continue as planned on Sunday with stage 4, despite doubts that lingered after a serious crash, caused by two motorbikes, saw stage 3 abandoned. Discussions took place between riders, teams and race organisers, and it was decided that the final stage would be raced.
Eleven riders were taken to hospital after two race motorbikes collided 65 kilometres into stage 3 and veered into the bunch. Lotto Soudal's Stig Broeckx suffering bleeding to the brain and is currently in a coma at Aachen hospital.
In an update issued last night, Lotto Soudal, the national lottery-supported Belgium team for whom a home race is an important event, announced they would not be continuing.
"After deliberation we informed the organisation that we won’t ride the last stage of the Belgium Tour," said team manager Marc Sergeant in a statement.
"At the moment it is pointless to make any accusations, but it should have been obvious much longer that structural measures concerning the safety of the riders are necessary.”
With riders shaken up and dismayed at yet another motorbike incident, especially so soon after the death of Antoine Demoitié, racing slipped far down the priority list for many. It is understood that many riders were in favour of not continuing with the race.
One such rider was Enrico Gasparotto, who rides for the same team - Wanty Groupe Gobert - as Demoitié did.
"I'll talk with the other guys but for me, if I had to decide, I'd go home straight away," said the Italian.
"What happened was really bad and cannot happen anymore. This is the Tour of Belgium and we are a Belgian team, but my team knows what it's like to lose a teammate."
The race organisers promised talks with riders and teams in the aftermath of the crash, and it would appear those talks were fruitful and the final stage of the race, 174km from Tremelo to Tongeren, is going ahead on Sunday.
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