This Sundays Tour of Flanders has seen a number of high profile withdrawals due to the carnage in the finale at Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem. Notable absenttees include Ian Stannard (Sky) and German sprint king, Andre Greipel. The Gorilla underwent surgery yesterday to repair the ligaments between his collarbone and shoulder. The German rider was preparing for the expected sprint finish in Gent-Wevelgem, when he was brought down at the same time as fellow sprinter Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).
Organisers of this years Tour of Flanders have unveiled several changes to this year’s route that include a significantly-modified final 50 kilometres.
Most significantly, the Koppenberg will sit 44 kilometres from the finish in Oudenaarde, as opposed to 64 as it did in 2013. Furthermore, instead of tackling the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs three times in the second half of the race as they have done since 2012, riders will now only tackle the fearsome duo twice. As per the past two years, the last ascents will come in the final 17 kilometres of the Belgian monument.
As opposed to being the second climb tackled in this year’s race, the Taaienberg will be the 14th (of 17) in the 2014 edition, and will sit 37 kilometres from the finish. The climb of the Hoogberg/Hotond is the most notable absentee from the 2014 route, having sat between the final two laps of the Kwaremont and Paterberg circuit since 2012.
Despite the modifications, the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen – first used in 1950 – will not be included for the third year running.
Several high profile riders have expressed their concern over the routes and tactics of some of the riders in this years classics. Often making for risky and dangerous riding conditions. After last weekend, Peter Sagan has firmed as a favourite for Flanders. Following a weekend where he won E3 Harelbeke and placed third in Ghent-Wevelgem, Peter Sagan says he can take the Tour of Flanders.