The iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen could be dropped from the Tour of Flanders again due to the town’s financial struggles. Local authorities are struggling to justify the price tag attached to the climb’s inclusion in the one-day Monument and could let it go in order to save on the €50,000 bill.
Mayor of Geraardsbergen Guido de Padt told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that the city’s financial struggle has seen an increase in taxes and the closing of Flanders’s oldest outdoor swimming pool and that the ‘Ronde’ may have to be compromised to prevent further measures.
‘As part of the discussion of our multi-year plan, we take a closer look at everything, including the Tour of Flanders. That now costs us €50,000, but we are far from the finish line and after the race passes through the fans leave quickly,’ said De Padt.
‘When the Muur was still in the final of the race it was completely different. So the question is: do we still have to pay so much?’
The Muur had been the penultimate climb in the race between 1973 and 2011 when the race finished in Meerbeke, often being the scene of race-winning moves.
However, a change of finish line to Oudernaarde saw it drop from the route in 2012 until it returned in 2017, albeit 100km from the finish line.
De Padt then continued by pointing out the race’s importance in the town and putting it on a world platform.
‘We cannot save on keeping the race, the Muur is, of course, an important element in our city marketing,’ said De Padt. ‘So it would be a shame if it disappeared from the Tour of Flanders for financial reasons.’