100 days to the World Championships: the countdown has begun
Thursday 10 June 2021
This weekend the sports summer officially starts. In exactly 100 days, the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders will be the final and the apotheosis for the Flemish sports fan. As of this afternoon, the organisation and the four host cities - Knokke-Heist, Bruges, Antwerp and Leuven - have started counting down to Saturday 18 September, the start of the World Championships week.
In the four host cities, this 'countdown' literally started this morning and this afternoon. A screen or a clock in the centre of each city will permanently remind all inhabitants and visitors of the number of days left until the start of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships. Those screens were unveiled in each host city in the presence of the mayor and alderman for sport.
"Tomorrow a busy summer of sport with one major event after another will start. We will close the summer in 100 days with the 2021 UCI Road World Championships in our own region. We are thrilled to be able to count down to 18 September in each of the four host cities and permanently remind residents and visitors of the World Cup. That way, everyone can get ready for a big cycling party in Flanders, because now that we will almost certainly be able to welcome spectators along the route and in the fan zones, everyone will want to be there," say Wim Tack and Christophe Impens, co-chairmen of npo Flanders 2021, which is organising the World Championships.
Leuven is the finish city of the road races. Mayor Mohamed Ridouani: "In the next hundred days Leuven will get ready for the World Championships, with lots of activities. Our city will proudly display the rainbow colours. After the heavy corona year, the World Championships will give an enormous boost and lift Leuven to an even higher level." To get the people of Leuven to join the countdown to the Road World Championships, the city of Leuven had an interactive and sustainable countdown clock developed by college UCLL that has been installed on the Grote Markt.
"The nice thing about the clock is that people have to make the installation work themselves, because of course it doesn't work automatically," explains alderman for sport Johan Geleyns. "We need volunteers to keep the pedals running. Anyone can come and take a seat on the two bicycles that power the countdown clock."
In Antwerp (starting point of most of the races on the road), a striking giant screen in the heart of the Ferris wheel at Steenplein will count down to 18 September. Mayor Bart De Wever: "As the sports capital of Flanders, we are of obviously looking forward to welcoming the international cycling peloton to Antwerp for the World Championships between 24 and 26 September. Antwerp is reviving, so we can once again count down to a rich events calendar. The countdown to the World Cup in the last 100 days can therefore not only be taken literally, but also figuratively.
Alderman for Sport Peter Wouters: "In Antwerp we have a heart for racing and for cycling in general. Moreover, in the meantime we have built up a fine tradition in hosting world-class cycling events. The trust that we can turn the worlds into an unforgettable cycling festival is growing."
Also in the host cities of the time-trials, giant screens in the city count down to the start of the World Championships. In Knokke-Heist (starting point of all time trials), the city is couting down on the big screen that hangs on the corner of the Lippenslaan and the Dumortierlaan. Mayor Piet De Groote: "The start of the time trials on the beach of Knokke-Heist is unique and the beautiful images will go viral. Sporty and recreational cycling fits in with the good life in Knokke-Heist and you can combine it perfectly with the other assets such as art, gastronomy and shopping! The legacy of this global cycling event will also manifest itself in a more bicycle-friendly municipal policy.
Alderman for Sport Jan Morbee adds: "Knokke-Heist has no fewer than 10 cycling clubs and 3 associations that organise cycling competitions, together accounting for some 2,000 members. This sporty municipality is therefore an ideal starting point for this great cycling festival."
In Bruges (where all time trials finish at 't Zand), a mobile countdown screen will be available at various places in the city. Mayor Dirk De Fauw: "As of today, we count down to the start of the Road World Championships that will take place in our country in exactly one hundred days. The World Cup is one of the biggest sports events ever to be organised in our city. Together with our residents and visitors to our city, we will make it an unforgettable celebration."
Alderman for Sport Franky Demon: "Together with Damme and Knokke-Heist, Bruges will form the magnificent backdrop where international cycling talent can battle to win a gold medal. Hopefully we will be able to honour the first Belgian world champion in 't Zand.
"The race is almost home," says Flemish Minister of Sport Ben Weyts. "The countdown to the 100th anniversary of the Road World Championships can now really begin."
"I am delighted that the world championships are finally getting closer. I can't think of a better time to pick up the slack and put Flanders even more on the map as the cycling country par excellence and the perfect cycling destination for both the recreational and the more experienced cyclist. On top of that, an international top event like the Road World Championships is the perfect moment for our tourism sector to leave the corona virus behind once and for all," says Flemish Minister of Tourism Zuhal Demir.
Now that there is a good chance that during the 2021 UCI Road World Championships spectators will again be able to enjoy the race along the track and in the various fan zones, the fans could already warm themselves up this morning. At numerous places along the track, mini-mascots were hidden, 100 in total, good for 100 beautiful prizes. Whoever found one not only got a nice gadget with the mascot, but a prize was attached to each lion, all gifts from the various partners of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships.
In all the towns, in the various World Cup villages, in the province of Flemish Brabant and in the whole of Flanders, numerous actions and events will be taking place in the coming weeks in the run-up to the World Cup week, for the inhabitants, the race fans, the cyclists and for everyone looking forward to a top event with worldwide appeal. This World Championships in Flanders will also leave its mark on the field of sustainability, innovation and cycling policy, which will also be clearly highlighted.