Belgium has been selected to host the inaugural UEC Gravel European Championships, which will take place on October 1, 2023. The Continental Championships will be held in the Flemish town of Oud-Heverlee, which two weeks later, on October 15, will also host the start and finish of the first-ever Belgian Gravel National Championships.
In a joint agreement among the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC), the municipality of Oud-Heverlee and Golazo, technical organisers for the event, gravel titles at the European Championships will be contested for men and women in elite and masters categories. The complete details for the race programme and courses are expected to be disclosed later this month.
The new Continental Championships for gravel is slotted into the Sunday prior to the 2023 Gravel World Championships, which will return to Italy from October 7-8. In 2024, the Flanders region will host the UCI Gravel World Championships, the event starting in Halle and winding to a finish just north of Oud-Heverlee in Leuven.
“Gravel is a discipline which has significantly grown over the last few years both in terms of the number of practitioners and media coverage. It attracts all age groups and all types of cyclists, from professionals to keen enthusiasts,” Enrico Della Casa, president of the UEC, said in a formal statement.
“The UEC has always been very attentive and open to new forms, and this is why we wanted this speciality to have its own European Championships, and for this grand premiere, there could be no better place than Oud-Heverlee, in spite of the different bids from various countries.”
The UEC said it is in the process of confirming plans for the next three years of the Gravel European Championships, solidifying the calendar through 2026.
Gravel gained a grip on a worldwide platform with the establishment of the UCI Gravel World Championships last year. That event, also organised by Golazo, was held in Veneto, Italy, in early October, with France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prévot winning the elite women’s rainbow jersey and Belgium’s Gianni Vermeersch taking the men’s elite title.
A number of regional and national championships are now held for the discipline of gravel. Among the new entries on the 2023 calendar are the Nordic & Baltic Gravel Championship, comprising eight countries in the Nordic Cycling Federation, and national events for Finland and Canada. USA Cycling has hinted at joining the gravel foray in 2023, but is yet to confirm a date and location.
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