Flanders to host centenary edition of World Cycling Championship

Summary

The UCI world championship for road racing will be staged in Flanders in 2021, the first time in 20 years

‘Take to the streets en masse’

The World Cycling Championship is coming to Flanders in 2021, marking 100 years since the competition began. “On this occasion, the UCI Worlds for road cycling will return to one of the major cycling countries,” said the Union Cycliste Internationale, which oversees the championship. The competition has not taken place in Flanders since 2002, when it was hosted in Zolder and Hasselt.

The 2021 championship will take place from 18 to 26 September, beginning with a mass event for amateur racers and families. The professional road races will begin in Antwerp and end in Leuven, while time trials will begin in Knokke-Heist and end in the historic centre of Bruges. There will be races for men and women, and in various age categories.

“Flemings live and breathe cycle racing,” said a delighted Philippe Muyters, the minister responsible for sports in the government of Flanders. “I expect Flanders will take to the streets en masse to cheer on its cycling heroes on this 100th anniversary of the World Championship.”

The organisers plan to invite as many winners of the championship’s elite road races as possible to attend the celebration. Muyters hopes that the excitement generated will inspire the next generation. “Doubtless this enthusiasm will attract many young people to get on a racing bike and, who knows, become one of the champions of tomorrow.”

The decision is also a coup for the region’s economy, according to tourism minister Ben Weyts. “We want to attract top events, with international standing, to Flanders and the centenary of the World Cycling Championship is perfect for us,” he said. “It will be one big commercial for Flanders as the birthplace of cycle racing.”

The budget for hosting the event is €19 million. Most of this comes from the state, with the difference made up by the four participating cities. According to Weyts, the championship will bring some €30 million into the local economy.

Photo: Dirk Waem/BELGA