2021 World Road Championships in Flanders!
The UCI, the International Cycling Union, has assigned the 2021 World Road Championships to Flanders. Exactly 100 years after the very first World Championships the event is ‘coming home’ to Flanders, the cradle of cycling.
From 18 until 26 September 2021 all events of road cycling (men’s and women’s elite race, the time trials, the U23 and the Junior's race) will take place in Flanders. Altogether, there are 11 rainbow jerseys at stake during the battle on the Flemish roads. It will be Belgium’s tenth time as resident for the World Championships.
The time trials, from Sunday until Tuesday, will depart in Knokke-Heist and have their finish in the historic city centre of Bruges. The road races, from Thursday until Sunday, will start in Antwerp and arrive in Leuven. In and around Leuven the contenders will ride a local lap, which they have to cover several times during the finale, that consists of some tough climbs. The Flemish Worlds week will be kicked-off on Saturday with a mass event for cycling enthusiasts and cycling families.
MUYTERS: "FLEMISH FANS FILLING STREETS"
"In Flanders we are born and raised with cycling. The love for the sport is taught from the moment someone learns how to ride a bike", says a smiling Minister of Sport, Philippe Muyters. "I really expect lots of decibels and thousands of Flemish fans on the streets to cheer their heroes to big performances during the 100th anniversary of the World Championships. This enthusiasm will definitely cause a new generation of young riders to step on a race bike. And, who knows, they might become the champions of tomorrow.”
WEYTS: "ONE HUGE COMMERCIAL FOR FLANDERS"
“We want to bring events with international allure to Flanders”, says Minister of Tourism, Ben Weyts. “The 100th anniversary of the World Championships fits us perfectly. It will be one big advertisement for Flanders as the birth place of cycling. That way we put Flanders into a touristic spotlight. In addition to that we estimate the total income for our economy at 30 million euro.”
VZW WK 2021: “COMBINED EXPERIENCE WITH BIG RACES”
“Of course we’re proud to welcome the World Championships here in the cradle of cycling”, explain Wim Tack and Christophe Impens from the local organising committee (LOC) vzw WK 2021. The LOC is a cooperation between Flanders Classics and Golazo, organisers of Flanders’ and Belgium’s most important races, including the Tour of Flanders, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the Baloise Belgium Tour, the BinckBank Tour, several cyclo-cross races and more than 40 events for active cyclists.
“Our combined experience with such big races will help us while we prepare to welcome hundreds of thousands of cycling fans and the world top of cycling in the best of conditions. With the time trials at the coast and the road races from Antwerp to Leuven the World Championships will be a near event for every Flemish citizen. We will offer some extras for the foreign supporters heading to Flanders so they can enjoy more than just the cycling.”
The UCI and the vzw WK 2021 will invite all men’s and women’s elite former world champions. “We are really looking forward to celebrate the WC’s one hundredth birthday together with all rainbow jersey winners. Every single one of them wrote history for cycling and meant something for the sport”, Tack and Impens say.
STUYVEN EAGER TO RIDE IN HIS CITY
The organising committee designed a track combining Flemish cycling history with attractive flandrien elements consisting of short but nasty climbs, typical for Flanders. They will bring excitement to the very last second of the race. In addition, the track will put our cultural heritage in the spotlight with a number of important cities as start or finish location.
The road races will have their finish in Leuven, hometown of Jasper Stuyven, Junior World Champion of 2009. “It is extremely awesome that the World Championships are coming to Flanders in 2021”, says the 26-year-old flandrien of Trek-Segafredo. “The track runs straight through my city and will finish on the Erasme Ruelensvest, only 100 metres away from my frontdoor. That’ll make it extra special”, explains Stuyven, winner of the GP Jef Scherens - Rondom Leuven, only two weeks ago. “There, the atmosphere was already amazing. Can you imagine how it will be during the World Championships!? I know it’s three more years until the race, but I’m already looking forward to it. I’m very excited!”
For making an event of this size possible, the Flemish Government is working together with the participating cities. Organising the event will have an estimated price tag of 18,9 million euro and also includes the licence for the UCI and interesting pre-events to promote professional and recreational cycling even further. The Flemish Government is responsible for the biggest part of that sum, but the four participating cities (Knokke-Heist, Bruges, Antwerp and Leuven) will also contribute.
Organising this kind of events was the exact reason why ‘EventFlanders’ was founded in 2016. Back then Flemish Ministers Geert Bourgeois, Ben Weyts, Philippe Muyters and Sven Gatz collaborated to line up a Flemish top event policy. ‘EventFlanders’ operates as a part of Toerisme Vlaanderen, but still is a cooperation between Toerisme Vlaanderen, the Foreign Affairs Department, the Culture Youth and Media Department and Sport Vlaanderen.
The 2021 World Road Championships is the second major event that has been assigned to Flanders. In 2020 the World Choir Games will take place in Flanders and was assigned back in June 2018.