Eighty years ago, Frans Knaepkens won the ‘forgotten Scheldeprijs’ exceptionally in the last months of the war in Kapellen (Zandhoven).

Eighty years ago, Frans Knaepkens won the ‘forgotten Scheldeprijs’ exceptionally in the last months of the war in Kapellen (Zandhoven).
Eighty years ago, Frans Knaepkens won the ‘forgotten Scheldeprijs’ exceptionally in the last months of the war in Kapellen (Zandhoven).
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Frans Knaepkens. — © Koersmuseum Roeselare/Charles Aerts collection

Viersel, Broechem, Kapellen

The Scheldeprijs caravan, the oldest Flemish spring classic, will travel from Terneuzen to Schoten on Wednesday, April 3. Exactly eighty years ago, the ‘forgotten Scheldt Prize’ was won in Kapellen in the last months of occupation before the liberation by Broechem resident Frans Knaepkens, born in Viersel.

Local historian Kevin Ver Boven from Massenhoven recalls the forgotten Scheldt Prize that René Vermeiren reported in his book ‘Cycling Passion on the Scheldt’. “Because Frans Knaepkens was born in Viersel and later moved to Broechem. The forgotten Scheldeprijs 1944 was held during the summer, shortly before the liberation. It was exactly eighty years ago.”

The slim Frans Knaepkens was from the golden generation of Rik Van Steenbergen and as a youngster he could even beat those later champions with his fast sprint. It disappeared from circulation before it really came to fruition. According to old articles, he stopped on the track too early to ride in France. The war also partly broke his career. Yet he once won Paris-Valenciennes with a five-minute lead. Those old articles state that Knaepkens was a stomach ailer. “I wish I hadn’t eaten and drank so much fruit during the race,” he lamented in an article. Karel Kaers from Vosselaar, the youngest ever cycling world champion, was an admirer of Frans Knaepkens.

Frans Knaepkens had a tall, slender appearance. The war partly broke his career as a rider.

Frans Knaepkens had a tall, slender appearance. The war partly broke his career as a rider. — © Koersmuseum Roeselare/Charles Aerts collection

What exactly happened eighty years ago? In Schoten people did not want to organize in those dire war conditions in 1944, but the collaborationist newspaper Sport Echo found people in Kapellen who were willing to do so. The Scheldeprijs in question was organized by the association ‘Noordervrienden’ from Kapellen.

Frans Knaepkens finished solo with a big lead. He died on February 17, 2001 and is buried in Broechem.

(kma)

The article is in Dutch

Belgium

Tags: years Frans Knaepkens won forgotten Scheldeprijs exceptionally months war Kapellen Zandhoven

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