For the 79th edition of the cycling race Gent-Wevelgem (WT), the organizers have something new in store. Sunday March 26 the peloton will rumble on dirt "Plug Streets". That in order to pay tribute to the victims who fell in the region during the First World War.
The riders will make between the two ascents of the Kemmelberg by a detour of 5.7 kilometers, four kilometers over three Plug Streets, named for the British name for the village of Ploegsteert Hainaut, municipality of Comines-Warneton.Afterwards the peloton reattach the course of last year.
"I am proud of this integration, which is a major opportunity for our city. Warneton is very excited about the introduction of our Plug Streets in the course of Gent-Wevelgem," said Mayor Maire-Eve Desbuquoit tonight at a press conference in Ploegsteert . "At the newly renovated roads, the riders will pay a symbolic tribute to all the victims of the First World War and this past various memorials."
After the Plug Streets riders grasp the second slope zone, followed by a passage at the Menin Gate in Ypres and finish after 246.5 kilometers in Wevelgem, where world champion Peter Sagan won last year.
It's been Demoitié Antoine was killed almost a year ago. The Belgian rider, who played for the team of Hilaire Van der Schueren (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) was hit in a descent, after he was smacked to the ground by three competitors. Demoitié was only 25 years old.
Last year the event has stimulated discussion on improving the safety of cycling races. The International Cycling Union (UCI) is constantly working on changes to the rules governing inter alia the principles of movement of vehicles in the column of the race. At the upcoming edition of Gent-Wevelgem, will be discussed in detail the life of Demoitié. Thus, a minute's silence will be observed before the race will start and hangs a special bow at kilometer 192, the starting number regretted that the Belgian wore last year. The same start number this year, moreover, be handed out: the count stops momentarily at number 191 and continues at number 193.
Demoitiés wife Astrid will donate a check for 2,500 euros to charity - the target chosen, helps people who have a lung transplant done with. Kilometer 192 is striking in the plug streets, "which is a tribute in the second game. The special roads which served ridden in World War I to commemorate the soldiers who died in that fight.
Cofidis, Israel Cycling Academy and Veranda's Willems-Crelan have added another Belgian classic to their calendar after being awarded the final three spots in the 2017 edition of Gent-Wevelgem. The trio of Pro Continental teams joins previously announced wild card invitees Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij, Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise, Wanty - Groupe Gobert and WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect to make up the 25-team peloton.
It's the third Belgian race to include the Cofidis team of Nacer Bouhanni, which has also been invited to Dwars door Vlaanderen, and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.