The organisers of the BinckBank Tour have responded to safety complaints about the race, after numerous riders registered their concerns in the wake of stage 3.
Among the dissenting voices was Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who pointed out the hypocrisy of holding a minute's silence for Bjorg Lambrecht moments before racing on a "bike lane-wide parcours."
Declercq's teammate Bob Jungels, Marcel Sieberg (Bahrain-Merida) and the Jumbo-Visma duo of Paul Martens and Jos Van Emden also took to Twitter with their complaints, with Van Emden likening the race to a kermesse.
QuickStep team boss Patrick Lefevere responded to Van Emden, saying that the CPA [rider's union] should get to work, teams should refuse to pay fines, and that the UCI shouldn't have approved the final of stage 3.
Race organiser Rob Discart responded to those concerns in an interview with Sporza, comparing the race route to those of the Flanders Classics, and saying that the nature of the route was known well beforehand.
"We shouldn't forget that when we announced the different courses, we told them that this is a 'Flandrien route'," Discart said. "That means you're confronted with narrow roads and technical turns followed by wider roads. This is also the case in the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and E3 Harelbeke.
"Moreover, we were unlucky enough to have to make late changes to the route, which resulted in a few more narrow sections."
Stage 3, which raced around the Belgian town of Aalter, finished with three laps of a circuit and was marked by numerous crashes, including one heading into the final corner. A further incident during the stage saw a spectator walk in front of the peloton with a bike, seemingly on purpose.
Discart said that the route was UCI-approved, adding that the race organisation thought the route to be safe.
"We got the green light [from the UCI] for our race without any problems," he said. "Only the time trial we had to change a bit. The rest turned out to be in tip-top shape.
"We think that our stages, and therefore stage 3 in Aalter, are safe. Mind you, I understand the criticism of some riders.
"After the race, I asked Sam Bennett if everything was OK and he saw no problem. It depends on each individual as to who found it a dangerous stage."