The first World Championships in Flanders!
Wednesday 01 September 2021
The UCI Road World Championships were held in Flanders for the first time in the 1950s. Moorslede had the honour of organising this popular celebration in 1950. And rightfully so, because by then Belgium had succeeded in winning the most World Championship titles. Fifteen years earlier, Jean Aerts had already been handed the rainbow jersey in front of a home crowd and the 150,000 spectators who had travelled to Moorslede for the occasion hoped to see this feat repeated.
Eight riders headed into the last round of that World Championship together. One of them was Briek Schotte, who had been crowned world champion in Valkenburg two years earlier and who was intent on pulling off this feat again. Schotte broke away from the pack during the only climb of the local round. The others were unable to come up with a response to his cunning acceleration. Kübler, Schulte, Bobet, Middelkamp... they all tried to catch up with “Iron” Briek but to no avail. He was already powering to the finish and the title. Schotte crossed the finish line solo, becoming world champion for the second time in his career. Two years earlier, the rainbow jersey had already been draped around the shoulders of the cyclist from Kanegem. At the time, all eyes were on the two Italian competitors, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, but Schotte was able to outsmart them on the difficult circuit of Valkenburg.
Two years later, in Moorslede, Belgian supporters were beside themselves with joy when he crossed the finish line. A Flemish rider had just won the very first World Championship in Flanders. During a radio interview after the race, Schotte famously said: “Mother, mother, can you hear me? I won and I’m the world champion!”