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Belgium to renew bid for UCI World road Championships

Plenty of Flandrian flags

Plenty of Flandrian flags (Image credit: Sirotti)

Representatives of the Belgian town of Hooglede-Gits have restated their intention to host the International Cycling Union (UCI) World road Championships, and will aim to secure rights to the event in 2013 or 2014.

Hooglede-Gits and the Italian city of Genova missed out on the right to host the 2012 World Championships, which were awarded to the Dutch region of Limberg at the UCI's annual conference in September. Organisers of the renewed Hooglede-Gits bid today told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that they would adapt their pitch to encompass a broader area of Belgium.

"We invested too much to let this fall by the wayside," said organiser Rik Debeaussaert. "But unlike our first bid, we are not going just focus on the towns of Oostende and Hooglede, but as the entire Province of West Flanders; much like the approach taken by Limburg for 2012."

The broader, provincial approach will better suit the expansion of the World Championships from a five-day to a nine-day format that will be rolled out from 2012 onwards. The UCI's announcement of Limburg as host city for the 2012 World Championships was accompanied by plans to re-introduce a team time trial and incorporate the junior road Worlds into the same event.

Debeaussart said the organising committee had learnt from the failure of their earlier submission and would be better prepared for their new presentation. He is also confident of securing high level support for the new bid.

"We're hoping some lobbying work by [Belgian] Prime Minister Yves Leterme, European Union President Herman Van Rompuy and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge," he said. "We already have the support of the Belgian cycling federation. All help we can get will be welcome, because Italy and Spain are also candidates."

Genova have also stated their intention to re-bid for the 2013 Worlds, while fellow Italian city Florence announced plans to pitch for the same event late last year. Ponferrada, in northwestern Spain, have received the endorsement of their national federation for their 2013 bid.

Belgium last hosted the UCI World road Championships in 2002, when Italy's Mario Cipollini claimed the World title in Zolder, located in the Belgian sector of Limberg.

Hooglede-Gits, which will host the Belgian national Championships in 2011, has already begun to re-draw plans for the road race course to meet the demands expected of the World Championships. Debeaussart said that a number of sites in South-west Belgium have been proposed as possible finish towns.

"The local circuit [in Hooglede] was not difficult enough," he said "We'll now opt for a local circuit in the hills. The Monteberg could be a good option, but we've ruled out the Kemmelberg because of the cobblestones. A finish in Ypres or Poperinge is entirely possible."

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