100 Years of UCI Road World Championships
It all started with the first UCI Road World Championships in the year 1921. The Danish capital Copenhagen set the stage for that very first battle for the World title, which was only for amateurs at the time. In the years that followed, the greatest Champions donned the rainbow jersey and now the time has come to crown winners in a genuine jubilee edition.
After all, the UCI and cycling will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their Road World Championships in 2021 and the battle for the white jersey with rainbow bands across the chest will be fought on hallowed cycling ground: Flanders, where champions are born.
In the previous 100 years, Belgium has hosted the Road World Championships 9 times, 6 of those were in Flanders, and has lauded 26 World Champions. From 18 to 26 September 2021, the cycling mad region of Flanders will once again become the epicentre of racing, and the peloton is coming home for the 2021 UCI Road World Championships Flanders, Belgium.
The 100th anniversary of the Road World Championships will be celebrated from 18 to 26 September 2021 and will start with the time trials from Knokke-Heist to Bruges. From Friday September 24th the road races will be on the programme. There the international peloton will find the real “Flandrien” feeling, with a few short steep hills and our internationally known cobblestones. The elite men, women and the U23 start in the centre of Antwerp and arrive at the Geldenaaksevest in Leuven. The junior men and women will complete their competition on the local loops in and around Leuven. With Antwerp and Leuven as host cities of the championships next year, there are again – after Bruges the days before – two real historic Flemish art cities in the spotlight.
On Antwerp’s Grote Markt, in the shadow of the cathedral, the men elite, the women elite and the men U23 are starting their race. The first few kilometres lead them past numerous iconic buildings in the city on the Scheldt: the MAS, the harbour building, the Central Station,… Via the Bolivartunnel, under the Palace of Justice, they leave the city and quickly head south.
Local circuit and Flandrien circuit
After passing through yet another city of art, Mechelen, the peloton enters the province of Vlaams-Brabant in the Official Village Keerbergen. Leuven will be close by and the local circuit of 15.5 km will be visited for the first time. That loop crosses the city centre (along a.o. Bondgenotenlaan, Stadhuis, Kruidtuin) and takes some nasty climbs with it, including Keizersberg, the Wijnpers and the Sint-Antoniusberg.
Then the peloton goes on the so-called “Flandrien”-loop and goes to Huldenberg, Overijse and Official Village Tervuren. The Men elite will do the bigger loop in the Druivenstreek twice and it will definitely hurt.. The climbs on the menu: the Smeysberg, the Moskesstraat, the S-bend of Overijse – Taeymansstraat, the Bekestraat, the Veeweidestraat and again the Smeysberg. According to connoisseurs, the steep cobbled Moskesstraat will defintely play a key role during the 2021 UCI Road World Championships.
In Leuven, the local loop awaits a number of times with the final finish on the Geldenaaksevest, near the Sportoase, which is also slightly uphill.
Federal coach Rik Verbrugghe of Belgian Cycling has already thoroughly explored the final of the road race: “This is a typically Flemish course with cobblestones and explosive climbs and a challenging local circuit in the centre of Leuven. This enables me to set up a broad Belgian selection. This course should suit men like Van Aert, Van Avermaet, Naesen and Stuyven perfectly. But it also offers opportunities for our women’s team; I’m thinking of Lotte Kopecky in particular or Jolien D’Hoore. The Championships of 2021 will be the main goal for many Belgian riders and riders”.