Dirk Demol summed up the mood neatly as team personnel gathered in Waregem on Tuesday afternoon for the Dwars door Vlaanderen pre-race briefing, hours after terrorist attacks at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro station in Brussels that left at least 30 people dead and more than 220 injured.
“What happened to the people in Brussels is a million times worse than cancelling a race,” the Trek-Segafredo directeur sportif told Cyclingnews.
The meeting of directeurs sportifs on the eve of the race is normally a routine affair, as teams confirm their final starting line-ups and draw lots for their place in the race convoy the following day, but it had a rather more sombre air on Tuesday afternoon.
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday morning’s terrorist atrocities in Brussels, the whole of Belgium was placed on its maximum threat level of 4, and it was initially assumed that Dwars door Vlaanderen would be cancelled as a result.
By Tuesday lunchtime, however, it was announced the race was still set to go ahead, pending further consultation with police in the late afternoon. Race director Guy Delesie was in a conference call with local authorities as the last of the directeurs sportifs arrived in the town hall in Waregem, and all were understanding that the situation was beyond the control of Flanders Classics.
“I think it is not my decision, this is for the government. If they say that we are safe then the race can go on and if there is too much risk then I agree with this decision,” Etixx-QuickStep directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters said. “I think what happened today is more important than the riders.”
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