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Belgian and Luxembourgish Cycling Geography
« on: July 11, 2021, 19:16 »
So I also did attempt a Belgian geography, riders past and present. It was quite a challenge since many are coming from the same areas in Flanders - especially West Flanders between Roeselaere and the French border. That's really the Flemish cycling heartland. Even in Wallonia, you have a pool between Charleroi and Namur where many riders of the twenties are coming from.

Oliver Naesen was born in Ostend. I've always thought he was from the Waasland just like his friend Greg Van Avermaet but since his brother Lawrence also was born in Ostend, I guess he spend part of his childhood there.

Merckx was born in Meensel-Kiezegem, that's further away from Brussels than on the map but he moved in childhood to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre/Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. I took that place.

Charles Deruyter, Aloïs Catteau, Joseph Van Daele and Hector Tiberghien were all born in Northern France. Catteau in Tourcoing and the other ones in Wattrelos. That's because many Flemish families in the early 2th century when to work in the coal mines of Northern France but they are from the same area, just across the border, I guess. Gustave Danneels was born further into the Nord Pas-de-Calais but he passed away around Bruges, so he's a West Fleming.

Ferdinand Bracke was born in the Waasland but moved with his family to Wanfercée-Baulet near Charleroi in childhood. He's equally considered a Fleming as a Walloon but anyway there's no room left near Charleroi, so I might as well leave him there in the Waasland.

Joseph Bruyère was born in Maastricht, Netherlands but was raised just across the border in Petit-Lanaye, town of Visé. That is in the Liège province.

The Kerff brothers were from Voeren/Les Fourons. In their days it was a Walloon town in the Liège province but it is now "Flemish" (Limburg province).

Since I had Luxembourg on the same map, I thought I could do Luxembourg as well. There I had a problem with François Faber as he was actually a Frenchman with Luxembourgish citizenship. His father was a Luxembuerger from Wilz, expatriated in France. So I placed Faber at his father's birthplace.

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  • « Last Edit: July 16, 2021, 01:18 by Echoes »
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    I guess Sam Bennett, Bradley Wiggins and Mathieu van der Poel could be part of Belgian geography too.
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  • Echoes

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    I've edited the OP several times because I realised that I missed a few big names, like for instance Bob Jungels. I can't realised that I missed him. It's nice to add him because he is one of the few that were not born in Luxembourg city. Just like Marcel Ernzer in Esch-sur-Alzette and Jempy Schmitz (once runner-up at the Worlds), all alone in Northern Luxembourg.

    Then I also add André Blaise who is one of the early Walloon rider - pre WWI - with an honourable palmares, to show that there is some quality racing in Wallonia. Of course quantitatively speaking, Flanders outnumbers Wallonia but the few Walloon cyclists have a palmares that many Flemings can envy. Also I added René Vandenberghe in West Flanders, a contemporary of André Blaise's.

    I guess Sam Bennett, Bradley Wiggins and Mathieu van der Poel could be part of Belgian geography too.

    You gave me an idea. In cyclocross I've always wondered how that comes that most of the Belgian greats of the early 21st century came from the Antwerp province. As it happens, the van der Poel brothers - Mathieu and David - also were born and raised in that province. So I've decided to make a cyclocross map. Which would also include women - Sanne Cant is from Ekeren close to Antwerp just like her brothers Kevin and Jelle - and still a bit of Luxembourg because in the old days, there were many great Luxembourgish cyclocrossers.

    On this map we may realise that there still have been quality racing in West Flanders in the past two decades with the Vanthourenhout family - Sven, Dieter and Michael -, with Klaas Vantornout, Jan Denuwelaere, Kenneth Van Compernolle, Eli Iserbyt, Nicolas Cleppe and Gianni Vermeersch. Plus a few youngsters of today : Yentl Bekaert and Anton Ferdinande. And in the women's field : Joyce Vanderbeken, Anja Nobus and the late Jolien Verschueren. Otherwise, these are 20th century racers : Robert Vermeire, Maurice Seynaeve, Yvan Messelis or Johan Ghyllebert.

    East Flanders had some of the best riders of the second half of the 20th century : the De Vlaeminck brothers, the Van Damme brothers (Albert and Daniel), the De Clercq brothers (René and Roger + Mario the son of René), Firmin Van Kerrebroeck, etc. But in the 21st century, you only have Tim Merlier, Wesley Van der Linden, Angelo De Clercq (Mario's son) and Jan Soetens. Now we have a great up-and-coming talent Emiel Verstrynge, hopefully. The women have saved the province : Kim Van de Steene (the farmer  ;) ), Veerle Ingels and Alicia Frank.

    Qualitatively "Flemish Brabant" had of course the best riders of the noughties with Sven Nys (and his son Thibau) and Niels Albert both from Tremelo-Baal but outside of them there are not many more : the Sweeck family with Laurens, Hendrik and Diether and Vincent Baestaens (also from Tremelo but I think he was also born in the Antwerp province). Now we have a good U23 rider Lander Loockx. Then the controversial woman rider Femke Vandendriessche from Asse, North of Brussels (Jürgen Roelandts' birthplace), disqualified for allegedly using a bike motor. In the 20th century you already have the best rider of the eighties Roland Liboton but otherwise not many either.

    Limburg has been nowhere as far as men's cycling is concerned. Only Tom Vannoppen ! Now we have too young prospects : Ryan Cortjens and Timo Kielich. Also two woman riders : Laura Verdonschot and Hilde Quintens.

    But the Antwerp province has had in the 21st century : Wout van Aert, Erwin Vervecken, Bart Wellens, Kevin Pauwels, Tom Meeusen, Peter Van Santvliet, Quinten Hermans, Daan Soete, Toon and Thijs Aerts, Jens and Joeri Adams, Bart and Jim Aernouts, Rob Peeters, etc. including the two best women riders Sanne Cant and Ellen Van Loy along with Loes Sels. Plus the two Dutchies : Mathieu and David van der Poel

    It already started in the mid-eighties with the De Bie family (Rudy, Danny and Eddy) and the late Wim Lambrechts. Then in the nineties, you had Paul Herijgers, Marc Janssens, Arne Daelmans, already Peter Van Santvliet and Erwin Vervecken, David and Peter Willemsens.

    Wallonia is a desert. Pre WWII you had Omer Thys, the best Walloon palmares I could find (as far as I know no relation to Philippe Thys, the Brusseler who happened to be the first Belgian national cyclocross champion but I don't consider him a cyclocross rider). I put the late Patrick Gaudy as a tribute. Alex Close was once 8th at the 1953 Worlds but he was primarily a road rider. Now we have Clément Horny who is coming from mountainbike.

    In Luxembourg, I kept the flying climber Charly Gaul who twice was 5th at the Cyclocross Worlds, would you believe it? Many of the best Luxembourgish roadies were also crossers at national level just like Nicolas Frantz but not really at international level. In recent days I kept Jempy Drucker, though his best results at international level were in the U23 category. Then I placed Christine Majerus instead of Jean Majerus. I've always wondered whether the two were related? If so, probably 4 generations between them. Charles Krier is a cyclocrossers from the thirties with an interesting palmares. He was born in Attert, Belgium but was definitely Luxembourgish. From that decade, Josy Mersch was the best, along with his younger brother Arsène who also was a decent roadie.
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  • « Last Edit: July 17, 2021, 14:15 by Echoes »


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