The sports director, Walter Planckaert, wrote in newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that he was bringing in the ban in order to maintain “the elegance of cycling”.

Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise compete on the Continental Circuits and often receive invitations to compete in the top level ProTour events. But any such appearances in future will be sans-beard.

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Planckaert wrote:

I’m taking this measure for the elegance of cycling. We are a cycling team, with riders, not motocross riders or rugby players. The snot and the leftover food in the beard of a rider in the middle of the race is dirty.

The 69-year-old director, who won the Tour of Flanders during his riding career, says that he will still allow riders to show some stubble.

But any such ban would presumably rule out a move for famously bearded German cyclist Simon Geschke.

Simon Geschke - Team Giant-Alpecin

Image credit: Imago

A big step down for Peter Sagan is also now completely out of the question: the Slovakian won his one and only Monument (the 2016 Tour of Flanders) while sporting a spectacular facial display.

And the three-time World Champion also showed off a bushy beard when winning Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne earlier this year.

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