Last year’s pair of Nokere Koerse races saw Ludovic Robeet of Bingoal win the men’s race and Amy Pieters of SD Worx won the women’s race.
This year Nokere Koerse is keen to stress its focus on safety. An extensive risk analysis was made of the course. With every metre of the 189-kilometre course for possible risks. There is no pothole, pole or centre ledge that has not been mapped out by the organisers.
In each case, it is indicated what has to be done to limit the risk: upgrade the road surface, padding of obstacles, extra signalling. A manual was also made for the team leaders. The men’s race has a 135-page document, with photos and points of attention for the riders. The riders can thus be warned of danger both beforehand and during the race.’
To secure the course Nokere Koerse works with Boplan: the company from Wevelgem provides cushions and protective totems that are placed at or near dangerous points to protect the riders. The yellow barriers are becoming more and more familiar as a visible presence at several races. But the organisation also provides additional signalling and security around lighting poles, particularly in the last kilometre. Importantly, on the Nokereberg itself, heading to the finish line, only barriers without protruding legs will be used.
“We want to be a trendsetter. Falls in the race are inevitable. But this year we focus more than ever on safety, not only to avoid falls but also to limit the consequences.“Robrecht Bothuyne, Nokere Koerse Chairman
‘It starts preventively: when drawing up the course we don’t look for the most extreme circumstances. We also consult with the police and the road authorities, both from the cities and towns and the Flemish region, in order to achieve a safe course. Moreover, we are limiting the peloton. Both the men and the women will ride with only 20 teams. A more compact peloton is a safer peloton. And moreover, this often guarantees a spectacular race.’Rony De Sloovere and Gil Steyvers, Nokere Koerse Race Directors
Also new is the collaboration with the Norwegian company ‘SafeCycling’. This company provides Nokere Koerse with adapted signposting and markings, equipped with LED screens. Obstacles and dangerous crossroads are much better indicated in advance for the approaching peloton. Here too, Danilith Nokere Koerse wants to be a forerunner.
During the race, the situation on and around the course will be continuously monitored by a security team including police, fire department, race organisation, etc. This way, action can be taken where and when necessary. After the race, there is a debriefing and any points for improvement for the next edition are already listed.
The police services are an important partner. traffic safety and maintaining public order are the race’s main priorities.
“After a long period of strict COVID measures, I hope everyone uses their common sense so that Nokere Koerse is a party for everyone. The police will ensure that the traffic measures are respected, but also focus on prevention because prevention is better than the cure. For this cycling race, 51 police officers will be on-site” says the chief of police Joost Duhamel.
“In order to ensure that this cycling day in our municipality goes smoothly and safely, we are taking a number of traffic measures for local and transit traffic. In a number of streets, for example, parking and traffic will be prohibited and in several streets, you can only drive in one direction,” notes Mayor Joop Verzele.
At the crucial points, police officers and marshalls will guide the traffic. These measures will also have an impact on bus transport. The centre of Kruishoutem will be made traffic-free. A circulation plan has been drawn up for this purpose. Traffic that does not need to be in the centre must follow this detour. There are shuttle buses from Waregem and Kruishoutem to the arrival zone in Nokere. There are also bicycle parking facilities. Understandably, the bike race is keen for fans to attend via bike.