Sunday, October 1, 2023

Tom Van Damme, president of the Belgian Cycling Federation, prefaces the Euro Cup: “There are still too many differences between Flanders and Wallonia”

After the 2021 Road World Championship in Leuven, the European Cyclocross Championship in Namur in 2022, and the Oud-Heverlee Gravel Championship in early October, Belgium will continue to organize a great cycling championship. next season, with Limburg for the European titles… What a series for Belgium!

“My policy has always been to try to hold a great cycling championship in our country almost every year. I consider it a great promotion for our sport to have these types of events. We can say that we have organized quite a few championships in recent seasons. And there are many other projects for the future. With the beginning of October at the level and this gravel euro. Next year we will organize the World Championship in this discipline (Editor’s note: between Hal and Leuven). The European Road Championships will also be held in 2024, scheduled in Limburg. In 2026 we will have the World Junior Track Championships in Heusden-Zolder. In 2027 the Cyclocross World Championship will be held in Ostend. This city had to organize the World Cup of this discipline in 2021 under very difficult circumstances with Covid, without an audience. I thought he deserved a second chance to show himself. And, on a more distant horizon, there is also the Brussels 2030 project for a new Road World Championship. We have the same project for track or cyclocross that year. We remain dynamic! We really want to continue down this path.”

Euro 2024 will be held in Limburg, on a route for men’s classics and sprinters

“Lotte Kopecky’s victory at the World Cup generated incredible enthusiasm!”

That would mean three World Championships in 2030!

”Yes, for the bicentennial of Belgium. In fact, we want to commemorate the occasion. If we manage to have the World Championship on the track, probably in Heusden-Zolder, the cyclocross and the road championship in Brussels, it would be enormous for our country: it is as if we had a great World Championship like this year in Glasgow, but without it being concentrated in a single period. I repeat, it is important to have important championships. This also helps attract more people to cycling. Leuven had been fantastic in 2021. We also saw Lotte Kopecky’s win in Glasgow generate crazy enthusiasm. She makes girls, but also boys, want to ride a bike.”

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The general director of the UCI almost formalizes the 2030 World Cup in Brussels: “More than 50% chance of this happening”


“There is a desire to organize three World Cups in Belgium in 2030 and in the bicentenary of Belgium: Brussels for the road, Heusden-Zolder for the track and Namur for cyclocross”

For this 2030 cyclocross World Cup, is the map that of Namur?

”In principle, yes. It depends, of course, on the city of Namur and the Walloon region. We can say that the European Championship organized last November in Namur was a success. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by the audience: they spoke more French than Dutch. This is a very good thing: there is still a fear that this discipline is still too flamenco. Namur, with its Citadel, enjoys a splendid environment, with a historical dimension also in terms of cycling. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful cyclocross circuit in Belgium.”

Returning to the athlete, the season is not over and if Remco Evenepoel did not win the Vuelta a España, 2023 will have been a very good harvest for the Belgians…

”In fact, the current season has been a great success. It is the reward for the work of the Federation that has done a lot for young people. Particularly at the time trial level, with training, with international programs. This is not new, there was also the climber project. We continue on this path. Currently we have many stars with Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Lotte Kopecky and many others, without forgetting those who are arriving, such as Arnaud De Lie or Cian Uijtdebroeks. I am convinced that things will continue in this good direction. Including the ladies. At the moment, this is not the case at track, BMX or mountain bike level. In this last discipline we have Émeline Detilleux and Pierre de Froidmont, in particular, but there is still one more step to take. We still have work to do!”

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Sven Vanthourenhout before the Euro Cycling Championship: “Wout and Arnaud are in great shape and will be on equal terms”

Belgium recently tragically lost a great talent: Tijl De Decker, who died in a traffic accident while training. One more tragedy that reminds us of the danger of this sport…

”It’s really dramatic. At the Federation level, we try to raise as much awareness as possible about the dangers of the road, whether at the level of Cycling Vlaanderen or the Fédération Cyclisme Wallonie Bruxelles. It is also a political issue in terms of road safety. Tijl De Decker lost his life in an accident while riding a bicycle. We are trying to raise awareness among clubs so that they find safe places to train. It’s not always easy. And then, riding a bicycle on a two-kilometer circuit, in an industrial area, that is not the strong point of our sport. Which continues to be contact with nature, the discovery of landscapes, the fact of feeling free on your bicycle. “If we take that away, we lose a strong point of our sport.”

Wallonia must take advantage of the Arnaud De Lie effect, here during its victory in Quebec.

Returning to the European Championship this week, it is quite symbolic for Belgium to see the team led by a Flemish leader and a Walloon leader, with Wout van Aert and Arnaud De Lie…

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“Yes, and that’s a good thing. I really hope that Arnaud De Lie, whose character appeals to young people, will revitalize cycling in Wallonia. The difference between Flanders and Wallonia is still too big in terms of cycling in Belgium. The Walloon Cycling Federation in Brussels must take advantage of this momentum, the Arnaud De Lie effect. Without forgetting Cian Uijtdebroeks, who lives in Wallonia.”

Sven Vanthourenhout on the next Euro Cup: “Wout van Aert wants to achieve the double on the schedule”

The European Championship program

Wednesday 20th in Emmen

  • Women’s junior time trial at 9:00 a.m. (19.8 km)
  • Men’s junior time trial at 10:25 a.m. (19.8 km)
  • Hopeful women’s time trial at 12:00 p.m. (19.8 km)
  • Hopeful men’s time trial at 1:05 p.m. (19.8 km)
  • Women’s elite time trial at 2:30 p.m. (28.6 km)
  • Men’s elite time trial at 4:15 p.m. (28.6 km)

Thursday 21st in Emmen

  • Men’s and women’s junior mixed relay at 12:45 p.m. (19.2 km)
  • Mixed men’s and women’s elite relay at 3:30 p.m. (19.2 km)

Friday 22nd, arrival at the Col du VAM in Drenthe

  • Hopeful men’s road race at 9:30 am (134.9 km, arrives around 12:45 pm)
  • Hopeful women’s road race at 2:30 p.m. (106.4 km, arrival around 5:10 p.m.)

Saturday September 23, arrival at the Col du VAM in Drenthe

– Junior men’s road race at 9:00 a.m. (109.3 km, arrival around 11:45 a.m.)

– Women’s elite road race at 1:45 p.m. (129.6 km, finish around 5:03 p.m.)

Sunday, September 24, arrival at the Col du VAM in Drenthe

  • Junior women’s road race at 9:00 a.m. (68.2 km, arrival around 11:34 a.m.)
  • Elite men’s road race at 12:15 (199.8 km – 115 in a row, then 6 laps – arrival around 16:58).

Euro 2024 on the road will take place in Limburg

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