Belgium celebrates its cycling festival


Belgium celebrates its cycling festival

Filippo Ganna drives to victory / Image: REUTERS

Bruges / Vienna. The World Cycling Championships could not have chosen a better place for the anniversary: 100 years after the first world champion's freestyle (only one race for amateurs was held in Copenhagen in 1921), coveted rainbow jerseys will be awarded again this week in Flanders. Nowhere else does road racing enjoy such a high priority as in Belgium, it is said that the heart of cycling beats in the home of the legendary Eddy Merckx. It is not without reason that the World Cup is advertised with the slogan “Cycling is coming Home”.

The wheel was not invented in Belgium, but racing is lived there on a grand scale. Liège – Bastogne – Liège had its premiere as early as 1892; it is the oldest race still held today. The Tour of Flanders (since 1913) is also firmly anchored in the UCI calendar as a classic. With 67 world championship titles, Belgium has the most of all nations, but in the men's individual time trial (since 1994) it has never reached gold. On Sunday, Wout van Aert was 5.37 seconds short and, like last year, had to admit defeat to Filippo Ganna. The Italian won the 43.3 km long fight against the clock in 47: 47.83 minutes, bronze with Remco Evenepoel also went to Belgium.

The Belgian duo are also among the favorites for the final road race next Sunday. The only worries are the harmony in the team, because young star Evenepoel has hinted that he doesn't necessarily want to subordinate his ambitions to Captain Wout van Aert.

In any case, the many fans along the route during the time trial announced the largest open-air event in times of the pandemic: the organizers are expecting up to 400,000 people for the road race.

Olympic champion Kiesenhofer in action

The women's individual time trial with Anna Kiesenhofer will follow on Monday (2.35 p.m., live, Eurosport). For the winner of the Olympic road race, as in the European Championship (7th), a top ten place would be a success. European champion Marlen Reusser (SUI) is the favorite.

A fatal accident overshadowed the World Cup. The Danish ex-professional and TV expert Chris Anker Sørensen was hit by a car while on a bike ride.

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