Spring in Belgium: Nokere Koerse gets a change, Handzame Classic added to the calendar
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spring in Belgium: Nokere Koerse gets a change, Handzame Classic added to the calendar

by Jered Gruber at 3:06 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
There will be a little shake up in the middle of March in Belgium next season

The Belgian semi-Classic, the Nokere Koerse, will get a little shake up heading into the 2011 season. The start of the race will move from the Flemish Ardennes centerpiece, Oudenaarde, to Ronse, 12 kilometers due south and right in the middle of the area's hellingen.

Race director Rony De Sloovere recently spoke to Het Laatste Nieuws on the slight change.

"Moving the starting location from Oudenaarde to Ronse will allow us a new route that we have up our sleeve. From Ronse, there will be a large loop that will include the Kluisbergen, Avelgem, the Tiegemberg, Waregem, and Wortegem. When we reach Nokere, there will be another eight local laps, totaling 195 kilometers.

The Nokere Koerse will take place on Wednesday, March 16, 2011. This season, it was won by neo-pro sensation, Jens Keukeleire, in a select group sprint on the Nokereberg.

Introducing the Handzame Classic
Along with the slight change to the Nokere Koerse, the Belgian Spring calendar will gain a new 1.1 ranked race, two days after the Nokere Koerse and the day before the year's opening Monument, Milano-Sanremo, that is, Friday, March 18th.

The tiny town of Handzame, situated in the heart of Flanders will play host to the new race, and also give it its name, the Handzame Classic.

Speaking with Belgian news agency, Belga, race organizer, Bert Pattyn, commented on the new race.

"We have finally been granted permission by the UCI, so now we are busy preparing the first edition of the Handzame Classic. We have a very rich cycling tradition here in Handzame. Jaan Kirsipuu, Robbie McEwen, Danilo Napolitano, and Jimmy Casper have all won races here on our streets."

"Our goal is to establish a semi-classic, and to this end, the date of the race, Friday, March 18th, is quite idea. It is two days after the Nokere Koerse and the day before Milano-Sanremo. Those who do not go to Italy can do our race as preparation for the Ronde van Vlaanderen, so we expect participation from several ProTour teams."

Of course, the big question is what the route will look like for the new race, but Pattyn is tight lipped on the layout of next year's race.

"I cannot say much about the route at this time. It is clear though that we must go into the hills and take in some hellingen. At the same time, we aim to select good and wide roads, so the risk of crashes will be very limited."


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