The love for the bike and for cycling is woven with Flanders DNA. This small patch of land is the undisputed heartland of this sport. The Ancient Greeks have Achilles, Pericles and Hercules. Flanders has Briek Schotte, Eddy Merckx and Tom Boonen: our heroes, our Flandriens. But cycle-loving Flanders does not live in the past. The holy flame is still burning, something we prove each spring. Each year, a week-long popular festival breaks out in Flanders: the spring classics. From De Omloop, via the E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem we end up on the holiest of all Sundays with: The Ronde van Vlaanderen.
This September, the Flemish cycling year will enjoy an additional highlight. And a spectacular highlight at that: the 2021 UCI Road World Championships . This is the seventh time that Flanders has acted as host for this cycling high mass. And this edition will be extra special. It is the 100th anniversary of the UCI Road World Championships. Flandriens and Flandriennes from everywhere in the world will, at the end of September, enter the arena that extends throughout Flanders to fight for the rainbow jersey.
The road race starts in the metropolis of Antwerp, on the Grote Markt. The starting retort will echo in the shadow of the Gothic city hall - just as it does for the Ronde van Vlaanderen. That first shot will set the peloton off on an initially flat trajectory towards Leuven, final destination of this UCI World Championships 2021.
On the way, the cyclists will be severely tested, by the very thing that distinguishes Flanders as the cycling Mecca: cobble-stoned gradients. The peloton will be faced with these monsters in two different loops in the course: the Flandrien circuit and the local circuit in Leuven. One of the most important obstacles on this trying course is the devilish Moskesstraat. This leg killer is 500 metres long, has an average ascent percentage of around 9% and a stretch of no less than 17%.
If you’re not on a bike, there are more comfortable ways of enjoying a visit to Leuven. This city is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe (founded in 1425), an enormous treasure trove of art and heritage and the world-famous beer, Stella Artois. Something for everyone, you could say.
The time trial during this UCI World Championships 2021 will take the peloton along different roads altogether. This race against the clock starts from another Flemish ace: the North Sea Coast. All the cyclists will start in the elegant Knokke-Heist. The first straight line runs parallel to the beach and then turns towards the bustling city centre. Via a windy course along canals and wa terways, the cyclists finally reach the finish: in beautiful Bruges.
This medieval city breaths heritage: from the cathedral to the Belfry, from artistic masterpieces to the meandering canals in the heart of the city. Little wonder that UNESCO has designated the entire city centre an historic heritage site. For both cyclists and visitors, the finish will be one to remember for a long time.
Whether on the bike or next to it: Flanders has so much to offer. Art and culture, centuries old heritage and foaming glasses of beer... Would you like to test your legs around the UCI World Championships 2021? Discover Flanders as a true Flandrien. More information about cycling tours, Strava Challenges and special cycle routes can be found here
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