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Wind, hail or even snow may greet riders at Scheldeprijs

Riders train before Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 in wet snow
Riders train before the 2020 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in wet snow (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

After pleasant weather for the Tour of Flanders and many of the other major Spring Classics, the peloton could be in for a rough ride in Wednesday's Scheldeprijs and the first-ever edition of the women's Scheldeprijs as the weather forecast calls for cold temperatures, high winds and hail or wet snow possible.

AG2R Citroën Lawrence Naesen said that his team are expecting conditions at the race – a plan-flat classic for sprinters – to be terrible.

"Three days after the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, the conditions at the Scheldeprijs are going to be terrible," Naesen said in the team's press release. "Today, it snowed all over Belgium and the weather is really not good for the race.

Overnight forecasts predict 2-4 cm of snowfall with the potential for an accumulation of 1 cm, although by Wednesday morning the temperatures should rise to a few degrees above freezing at the finish in Schoten near Antwerp. Chances of snow are lower at the start in Terneuzen, but winds are expected to be near 30 kph from the northwest.

That would give riders a cross-headwind at the start but turning into a brisk tailwind and then a mix of crosswinds on the finishing circuits.

Snow is common in the early-season races in Northern Europe, although only a few races in recent years have been cancelled under the UCI's Extreme Weather Protocol.

In 2013, a slew of races were affected by bad weather with Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and the GP di Lugano cancelled in February and Nokere Koerse suffering the same fate in March. Milan-San Remo was almost called off but riders instead got back into the team buses to warm back up before re-starting after the Turchino.

In 2016, snow hit both Tirreno-Adriatico and Paris-Nice and led to the cancellation of a stage while Liège-Bastogne-Liège had to be re-routed to avoid the worst.

The Scheldeprijs has so far avoided cancellation due to weather, running every year since 1907 with the exception of the years during the World Wars.

With the postponement of Paris-Roubaix due to COVID-19 restrictions in Northern France, Scheldeprijs could end up being the real Hell of the North of spring 2021.

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