Road races from Antwerp to Leuven presented
Saturday 19 September 2020
After the time trials between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, the routes of the road races have now been presented by the organisation of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships. These will go from Antwerp to Leuven, where after hilly loops through the city and in the direction of Overijse they will have their conclusion on the Geldenaaksevest in Leuven.
The 100th anniversary of the Road World Championships will be celebrated from 18 to 26 September 2021 and will start with the time trials from Knokke-Heist to Bruges. From Friday September 24th the road races will be on the programme. There the international peloton will find the real "Flandrien" feeling, with a few short steep hills and our internationally known cobblestones. The elite men, women and the U23 start in the centre of Antwerp and arrive at the Geldenaaksevest in Leuven. The junior men and women will complete their competition on the local loops in and around Leuven. With Antwerp and Leuven as host cities of the championships next year, there are again - after Bruges the days before - two real historic Flemish art cities in the spotlight.
On Antwerp's Grote Markt, in the shadow of the cathedral, the men elite, the women elite and the men U23 are starting their race. The first few kilometres lead them past numerous iconic buildings in the city on the Scheldt: the MAS, the harbour building, the Central Station,... Via the Bolivartunnel, under the Palace of Justice, they leave the city and quickly head south.
Local circuit and Flandrien circuit
After passing through yet another city of art, Mechelen, the peloton enters the province of Vlaams-Brabant in the Official Village Keerbergen. Leuven will be close by and the local circuit of 15.5 km will be visited for the first time. That loop crosses the city centre (along a.o. Bondgenotenlaan, Stadhuis, Kruidtuin) and takes some nasty climbs with it, including Keizersberg, the Wijnpers and the Sint-Antoniusberg.
Then the peloton goes on the so-called "Flandrien"-loop and goes to Huldenberg, Overijse and Official Village Tervuren. The Men elite will do the bigger loop in the Druivenstreek twice and it will definitely hurt.. The climbs on the menu: the Smeysberg, the Moskesstraat, the S-bend of Overijse - Taeymansstraat, the Bekestraat, the Veeweidestraat and again the Smeysberg. According to connoisseurs, the steep cobbled Moskesstraat will defintely play a key role during the 2021 UCI Road World Championships.
In Leuven, the local loop awaits a number of times with the final finish on the Geldenaaksevest, near the Sportoase, which is also slightly uphill.
Federal coach Rik Verbrugghe of Belgian Cycling has already thoroughly explored the final of the road race: "This is a typically Flemish course with cobblestones and explosive climbs and a challenging local circuit in the centre of Leuven. This enables me to set up a broad Belgian selection. This course should suit men like Van Aert, Van Avermaet, Naesen and Stuyven perfectly. But it also offers opportunities for our women's team; I'm thinking of Lotte Kopecky in particular or Jolien D'Hoore. The Championships of 2021 will be the main goal for many Belgian riders and riders".
David Lappartient, president of the UCI: "The 2021 UCI Road World Championships announce themselves as an historic moment. We are celebrating the 100th birthday of the biggest cycling event of the year and we are doing so in Flanders and Belgium, one of the places where the cradle of our sport stands. The courses that have been presented confirm that this edition of the Road World Championships promises to be exceptional".
Bart De Wever, mayor of Antwerp: "Who says cycling, says Flanders. As a purebred cycling city, we obviously have some experience with the race. Just think of the Tour of Flanders, which has been under massive public interest here for several years now. Or the Tour de France, which we welcomed on 6 July 2015 and where we were the beautiful starting decor for the third stage. Of course, in Antwerp, which in 2020 may call itself 100 years Olympic city, we look forward to being the starting point of the UCI Road World championships next year, which also celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2021. Another top race with a lot of history! The battle for the rainbow jersey starts in Antwerp and as a city we will do everything we can to welcome riders and spectators with open arms to make it an unforgettable cycling festival".
"Leuven's ambition is to become the European sports city of 2021. Receiving the UCI Road World Championships will give the city a huge boost and take Leuven to an even higher level", says mayor Mohamed Ridouani. "Flanders is cycling and cycling is Leuven. Our city has all the ingredients to create a fantastic apotheosis. We have climbs, cobblestones and the best fans in the world. We are very proud to receive the 2021 UCI Road World Championships and to honor the champions of the sport.”
The question is: who will become world champion? It seems already written in the stars that classic riders will be the men and women to watch. So also the riders can start counting down to September 2021!
Pictures: © Photonews