Cycling World Championships: a rich Flemish history

Cycling World Championships: a rich Flemish history

Between Sep 19 and 26, Flanders will welcome the 2021 UCI cycling world championships. The battle for 11 world titles will be fought from 4 different host cities: Knokke-Heist, Bruges, Antwerp and Leuven.

For Çois Cycling Legacy, this race is even more special because our Antwerp based office is located along the route of the road race for U23, Elite women and Elite men.
Well, World Championships in Flanders are special anyway.
Flanders of course has a very rich cycling tradition: just think of the Tour of Flanders and the beautiful spring classics.

Cycling in Flanders (pic Lars Crommelinck

But we also have a remarkable history in the field of cycling world championships and the world champions themselves.
Over the years, the world championships took place on the Flemish paved roads, past cute chapels and typical village cafes several times. Legendary races, exciting finals with big names as winners.

Just think of Moorslede in 1950. The race of more than 280 km took the riders past Ypres and the Kemmelberg. Briek Schotte made it to the final and became world champion for the second time. In the radio interview after the race, Schotte shouted: “Mother, mother, do you hear me? I won and am world champion!”.

In 1957 Rik Van Steenbergen was crowned world champion for the third time in Waregem. He beat Louison Bobet and André Darrigade. Six Belgian riders finished in the top 10.

Rik van Steenbergen

In 1988 the World Cycling Championships in Ronse turned into a tumultuous sprint between Claude Criquielion, Steve Bauer and Maurizio Fondriest.
At 200 meters from the finish, Criquielion bumped into a policeman standing in front of the crush barrier, his front wheel hit the concrete base of the crush barrier, causing him to fall.
In the end, Fondriest won, ahead of Bauer who was disqualified.
The unfortunate Claude Criquielion walked across the finish line and finished 11th.

Fondriest world championships

Belgium is also the country with the most gold medals at the World Cycling Championships: 26 wins. Italy (19) and France (9) complete the top 3. The last Belgian winners of the World Championships are: Eddy Merckx, Freddy Maertens, Claude Criquielion, Rudy Dhaenens, Johan Museeuw, Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert.

We are really curious who will succeed Julian Alaphilippe.

It goes without saying that we fervently hope for a new Belgian winner. For Belgian squad leader Wout van Aert the rainbow jersey would be the crowning achievement of his amazing season.

Although we are also extremely satisfied with a blistering battle from start to finish and a final that brings us to the edge of our seats, biting our nails.

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