Sport Vlaanderen team institutes beard ban

Belgian team Sport Vlaanderen bans riders from wearing beards to preserve "the elegance of cycling" says director Walter Planckaert.

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BRUSSELS (AFP) — Cyclists riding for Belgian outfit Sport Vlaanderen will no longer be able to have beards “for aesthetic reasons,” the team’s sport director told local media on Tuesday, according to Belga news agency.

“I’m taking this measure for the elegance of cycling,” Walter Planckaert explained in Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad.

“We’re a cycling team, with riders. Not motocross riders or rugby players. Snot and food leftovers in the beard of a rider in action, it’s nasty.”

Cyclists for the second-tier Professional Continental team will still be allowed to sport stubble, but any rider opposed to the full beard ban should find another team, Planckaert added. The 69-year-old ex-professional won Tour of Flanders in 1976.

Fortunately, it seems few of the Sport Vlaanderen riders will have to change their grooming habits. Based on a team photo taken in early 2017, the riders are all clean-shaven.

Perhaps Planckaert is a closet fan of the New York Yankees. That baseball team famously prohibits players from wearing beards or hair below their uniform collars for that matter.

The last hirsute winner of a major spring classic was Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), who won Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders in 2016. Sagan also won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2017, sporting a beard and long hair to match.

Peter Sagan
Peter Sagan won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2017 with a very bushy beard. Photo: Tim De Waele |

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