Limburg, the backdrop of the Road European Championships - and of your cycling adventure too

Foto 26-09-2021 15 20 06 © Flanders 2021
Limburg is a dream for anyone on two wheels. Both the seasoned Flandrien and the recreational cyclist will find a wonderful setting there for his or her adventure. The Road European Championships in September will showcase the natural beauty of Limburg.
‘Fietsen door het Water’ in Bokrijk © David Samyn

2024 Road European Championships

The cycling world will be turning the spotlight right up on Limburg in September, when the Road European Championships take place in the province. And that’s no coincidence, as Limburg is a very logical choice for such an event. This ever-hospitable province is a marvellous place for cycling, both for the sports cyclist and the recreational cyclist. The landscapes there are verdant, sometimes flat and sometimes undulating, but always enchanting. You pedal along standalone cycle paths and low-traffic roads. Moreover, you experience cycling adventures there that you won’t find anywhere else. Limburg elevates cyclists to higher realms, not to mention takes them straight through water. Literally.

Toerisme Vlaanderen - Bosland - Fietsen door de bomen - Bjorn Snelders - 3

Exceptional cycling experiences

Have we perhaps made that sound a little too cryptic? We’ll make it concrete with an initial example: Cycling through Water. On this adventure, an arrow-straight cycle path leads you right through a lake. You cycle straight from one bank to the other. In the middle of the path, the water along either side is at eye level. And that’s how you pedal straight through water. Cycling through the Trees, in National Park Bosland, is a second jewel in Limburg’s cycling crown. This path elevates you safely both literally and figuratively. Via a double circle, the road leads upwards to a height of no less than 10 metres. As a result, the cycle path literally takes you through the treetops. It’s a unique experience!

All good things come in threes, as the proverb has it. And things are certainly no different here. Cycling through the Heathland is a third highlight. This adventure takes you for kilometres through the breathtaking Hoge Kempen National Park. The wooden bicycle bridge you cycle over along the way gives you a stunning panoramic view. And there’s more. A fourth high point will be added soon. Cycling between Terrils will be an ode to Limburg’s mining past. During the 20th century, this activity had a huge impact on the region’s landscape. This cycling experience will introduce you to that. From a floating bridge, you will get an exceptional 360° experience. The sparkling water and the now-greenery-covered terrils - mountains consisting of stone rubble - provide a remarkable spectacle.

Vlaanderen-Fietscampagne-Groenegordel-HR-008

Cycling node network

As we’ve already seen, Limburg has a great deal to offer adventurers on two wheels. And the icing on the cake is that all this beauty is neatly interconnected thanks to the cycling nodes. This is an intricate network of numbered signs that indicate the most beautiful cycling routes. Via those points, you easily map out a fantastic route. Cycle nodes, meanwhile, have become the benchmark for cycling fans in Belgium and the Netherlands. By the way, this ingenious system is a Limburg invention. It sprang from the mind of a former mining engineer.

streetart Eddy Merckx (c) Vlaams-Brabant 1

Sports history

So there’s plenty of things for the recreational cyclist to do, but the love of cycling goes even further here. In Flanders, the bicycle is the vehicle of choice for top-level sport. Cycling is deeply embedded in our DNA. Limburg itself is more than qualified to say a few words on the subject. For example, the very first Belgian cycling championship, in 1894, was run on Limburg roads. Three quarters of a century later, this province became the setting for an even bigger event: the Road World Championships in the town of Zolder (1969). Public favourites Rik Van Looy and Eddy Merckx were among the big favourites, but in a mutual battle they denied each other the chance to win. In the end, it was Dutchman Harm Ottenbros who crossed the finish line first, to the great dismay of the Belgian fans.

Exactly the same location - the Heusden-Zolder motorsport race track - was once again the setting for another edition of the Road World Championships in 2002. The flamboyant Italian Mario Cipollini captured the rainbow jersey in a majestic sprint. And we haven’t yet even mentioned the cyclo-cross and BMX world championships that have taken place here in the past. Last but not least, this same race track will be the starting venue for the European Championships in September. 

Sport Vlaanderen Velodroom Limburg (8)

The future of cycling

So we come full circle. Although the vibrant story of cycling doesn’t end here. Limburg is also working hard on the future of cycle sport. Today in Heusden-Zolder, you will also find a brand-new velodrome. It’s available for use by anyone with a passion for track cycling. In 2025 and 2028, this track will be the venue for the European Track Cycling Championships. In other words, it’s a place where we can look forward to seeing many more top performances.

So it’s as clear as can be. Do you want to achieve peak performance? Or would you like to pedal through a vast landscape on your e-bike? You can do it all in the Belgian province of Limburg. You will feel right at home there, both on and off the bike. Enjoy every moment, it’s worth it.