Belgian federation envisions whole nation hosting 2016 Worlds

Chairman sees financial and sporting benefits

Belgium is looking to host the 2016 World championships and the chairman of the Belgian cycling federation envisions a championships spread all across the entire country.

Traditionally the championships have been held in one city or one region, but Tom Van Damme has a new idea.

"I think the world championships with both Flanders and Wallonia involved would have more value,” he told ”I think the alternative is a much wider spread, so that both sporting and financial support will increase. "

"The time trials are held, for example, in Flanders and for the ride for the rainbow jersey on the road you start in Flanders and end deep in Walloon. I have had informal talks with Prime Minister Yves Leterme, among others.”

“For example, we can begin the road race in Leuven and Hasselt and finish in Namur and Liège. The Citadel of Namur would be a great backdrop, for example. “

A wider geographic area would also give more fiscal possibilities. “Financially it is virtually impossible for a city to self-finance the championships,” he pointed out. “I think the time is ripe for such a project, given the popularity of cycling with Boonen and Gilbert across the language barriers."

The proposed nationwide bid also serves as a counter to the divisions that have grown between the political parties of Belgium's Flemish and Walloon regions in the past year. The country has been left without a federal government since elections held last June, breaking a world record previously held by Iraq.

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