Read the official press release below:
After a successful World Cycling Championships last year, Flanders will host the UCI Gravel World Championships, the World Championships for gravel bikes, in Flemish Brabant in the autumn of 2024.
This year the UCI is organizing a world championship for the clay discipline for the very first time. It is the organ point of the UCI Gravel World Series, a collection of clay court matches around the world, initiated by Golazo. In 2024, Golazo, Flanders and the province of Flemish Brabant will bring that official UCI World Championship to cycling madness Flanders, to the Brabant Woods. This green lung of the province of Flemish Brabant, formed by the Hallerbos, the Zoniënwoud and the Meerdaalwoud, is a candidate to be recognized as a national park from 2024.
“Gravelen has quickly evolved from ‘hype’ to a full-fledged part of the cycling offer”, says Christophe Impens of Golazo. “With Golazo, we were quick to set up beautiful grave events in our own country. About a year and a half ago we approached the UCI with a proposal for an international Gravel Series, following the UCI Granfondo World Series that we have been organizing for years. That first edition will be completed in a few weeks in the very first Gravel World Cup in Veneto, Italy. The fact that we can now bring the World Cup to Flanders and thus link top sport to our Flemish nature, is a very nice opportunity.
“It was a great honor for us to organize the 100th edition of the World Cycling Championships last year”, says Flemish Minister of Sport Ben Weyts. “With the Clay Court World Championship in 2024, we can now once again show our best side worldwide. We are not only putting Flanders in the spotlight on an organizational level, but we are also putting our green assets in the spotlight during this World Cup. We seize top sporting events like this one with both hands to promote cycling and cycling even more in cycling mad Flanders.”
Gravel is very close to nature as a sport. The gravel rider stays away from the paved road as much as possible, but looks for good accessible (and official) paths in the woods and fields to let off steam. The Brabant Woods are extremely suitable terrain for this, conversely, the importance of a Gravel World Cup is ideal for emphasizing respect for and conservation of nature.
“With its slopes and cobblestone sections, but especially with its 6 million cycling enthusiasts, Flanders is the homeland of the Flandrien. After all, the passion for cycling beats in the heart of every Flemish person. With Tourism Flanders, I want to share that passion with cycling enthusiasts from all over the world. In 2021 we had two top opportunities to do this with the World Cycling Championships and the Cyclo-cross World Championships. But Flanders is more than just cycling. Our beautiful nature is also an unknown pearl. The Gravel World Championship is the perfect opportunity to combine both Flemish trump cards. With EventFlanders I fully support the organization of this top event”, says Flemish Minister of Tourism Zuhal Demir.
Moreover, such a World Cup – as we clearly saw in 2021 – will have a much broader and broader effect: on the promotion of recreational cycling and on encouraging the use of bicycles. In this case, it also fully matches ‘Young Racing Violence’the initiative of the province of Flemish Brabant to continue to focus on all facets of sporty cycling and cycle tourism over the next three years.
“Flemish Brabant will fully focus on sporty cycling in the coming years with the Jong Koersgeweld project,” says Gunther Coppens, Commissioner for Tourism. “Flemish Brabant is therefore the place in Flanders where every type of cyclist can find something to their liking. You can enjoy the heroic World Cup slopes on the road, wonderful cycling routes in the footsteps of cycling heroes and breathtaking gravel routes through the most beautiful landscapes. The fact that the Gravel World Cup will take place in the green lung of our province also means a unique opportunity to visualize the natural beauty of our region.”
For the UCI Gravel World Championships, you must qualify through mass events across five continents and over a full year. The unique thing about this cycling discipline is that the amateur gravel racer is at the start together with the absolute world top from several cycling disciplines. This year, for example, Peter Sagan and Zdenek Stybar will be driving the Gravel World Championships.
In the coming weeks, Flanders, Flemish Brabant and Golazo will sit around the table to discuss the route and possible start and finish places.