Three Days of West Flanders receives some exciting changes for 2011
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three Days of West Flanders receives some exciting changes for 2011

by Jered Gruber at 11:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
The race, also known as the Johan Museeuw Classics, will include a prologue and a new stage start in Brugge

The Three Days of West Flanders, or rather the Johan Museeuw Classic as it will also be known, has undergone a serious makeover for its 2011 edition.

The race will return to an old formula with a prologue around the beach and casino in Middelkerke. Organizer, Wim Mattheus said to De Morgen: "An old tradition is reinstated. In 2002, 2003, and 2004, we started our stage race with a prologue. In collaboration with the municipality of Middelkerke, we've scheduled a prologue centered around the casino for Friday, March 4th."

The opening day prologue should do much to separate the field in the normally hotly contested race with minuscule time gaps. After that, the race introduces another new feature, something that only went through in the past few days: a stage start in one of Belgium's and certainly West Flanders's finest cities: Brugge.

Kortrijk had originally been the planned departure city for the first stage, but there was no denying Brugge when the city expressed interest in hosting the day's start. Stage 1 will run from Brugge to Bellegem, just on the outskirts of Kortrijk.

Sunday's final stage will launch from the coastal city of Nieuwpoort. It will travel through the race's namesake, Johan Museeuw's hometown of Gistel, before heading into the hills, where the Kemmelberg will play a prominent role in the day's racing along with a cobblestone jaunt along the Steenstraat.

The different running of the stage will still see a traditional finish though - Ichtegem, in the heart of West Flanders. The new layout of the race will ensure that the three days of racing will fall entirely within West Flanders.

In 2010, young Belgian super talent, Jens Keukeleire, took overall victory in the three day race along with a stage triumph on the first day. Keukeleire enjoyed a fantastic season with wins at Le Samyn, the overall and a stage at the Three Days of West Flanders, and the Nokere Koerse.

Keukeleire was present in Brugge for the announcement of the new stage start, but was ready to move along out of Belgium as quickly as possible, according to Sporza.

"I am leaving with my Cofidis teammates soon in search of good weather. Benidorm will be much better than here."

The young sprinting talent will be a rider to watch in 2011, and he'll get some new opportunities in the coming year as well - namely at home.

"I will start at the Tour of Mallorca, and I will also start for the first time in Belgium's opening weekend [the weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne]."



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