A unique cycling heritage
Belgium has a unique cycling tradition and culture which carries through till today. People have been obsessed with riding bikes for a very long time. Even though the true roots of modern cycling are in France, Flanders picked up the hype very soon and it thrived very quickly in the land of the cobbles. As the races developed, more heroic events unfolded and local boys turned national prodigies overnight. The often harsh conditions (wind, rain, hills, cobbles) during those races led to the birth of the “Flandrien”, an indestructible superman-on-wheels. A guy that gets superpowers once the weather turns foul. A guy that races for glory, not money. A guy that can conquer several setbacks and still take top spot.
Today, Flanders still lives and breathes cycling. First of all through its world renown pro race scene. The Spring Classics draw international media coverage year after year, and other younger race formats get great recognition by the UCI (e.g. Eneco Tour). Secondly, there is a lot of amateur racing! In summer there are races every day, everywhere. There are “Kermesses” for the semi-pro’s, crits, and smaller events throughout the country. Every self respecting Belgian village organizes at least one race a year. Thirdly, we have a dense population of guys that ride just as a hobby, that participate in sportives and grand fondo’s, or just go out with their club every week. Some of them may not look fit, but you want to make sure not to lose their wheel on the pave!
Cycling engages people from all backgrounds, young and old. Cycling brings Belgian families together, as very often a copious meal precedes an afternoon of nailbiting in front of the TV, each cheering for his or her favorite. Emphatic wins and unexpected results will be the talk of the town for a couple of days. Cyclists make headlines in the Belgian press very regularly. We live and breathe cycling, all year long.