The passion for bike racing that exists in Belgium was on display when Flanders hosted the 2021 world championships. Lotte Kopecky and Wout van Aert, the two national road race champions from last year, received the loudest cheers from their adoring public on the closing weekend of #Flanders2021. Both riders have made the national team selection again in 2022…


– By Rob Arnold (Photos: Zac Williams)


If ever there was a favourite for the title of a contest that can be as random as the road race of the world championships, it’s Wout van Aert. The star of the Jumbo-Visma trade team is one of the headline acts for an impressive Belgian selection for #Wollongong2022 that was announced at the end of August.

Van Aert will celebrate his 28th birthday 10 days before the final event of the 2022 worlds, the elite men’s road race (266.9km, 25 September). He’s in the prime of his career and come race day, he’ll be well supported by a cast of riders who will be committed to improving on the fourth place earned by Jasper Stuyven in the 2021 championships.

Lotte Kopecky was one of the stars of last year’s road worlds in Flanders… even if she finished 16th place. The 26-year-old who was fourth in the road race of the Tokyo Olympics will again represent her national team when the worlds come to Wollongong in 2022.


Below is a summary of the Belgian team selection for Wollongong 2022 (with riders for each category listed in alphabetical order):

Elite Women

  • Valerie Demey (Liv Racing Xstra)
  • Julie De Wilde (Plantur-Pura)
  • Justine Ghekiere (Plantur-Pura)
  • Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx)*
  • Jesse Vandenbulcke (Le Col-Wahoo)
  • Julie van de Velde (Jumbo-Visma)*

No reserve.

Elite Men

  • Stan Dewulf (AG2R Citroën Team)
  • Remco Evenepoel (Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl)*
  • Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux)
  • Yves Lampaert (Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl)*
  • Pieter Serry (Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl)
  • Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
  • Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
  • Nathan van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma)

RESERVES: Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën Team), Dries van Gestel (TotalEnergies), Louis Vervaeke (Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl)

Under-23 Men

  • Jenno Berckmoes
  • Vito Braet
  • Dries de Pooter
  • Alec Segaert*
  • Fabio van de Bossche
  • Lennert van Eetvelt*

Junior Women

  • Febe Jooris*
  • Jade Linthoudt
  • Fleur Moors
  • Xaydée van Sinaey*

Junior Men

  • Duarte Marivoet Scholiers*
  • Maxence Place
  • Sente Sentjens
  • Vlad van Mechelen
  • Jens Verbrugghe*

*Denotes rider also nominated for time trial.

Kopecky earned the best result for a Belgian in the road race of the 2021 championships (16th, in the race won by Elisa Balsamo of Italy ahead of Dutch superstar Marianne Vos) but the Team SD Worx rider will be looking to improve on that result on the Saturday of the championships in Wollongong.

The route for the women’s race is the same as the elite men, with a start in the northern suburb of Helensburgh followed by a transfer south towards Wollongong before the Mount Kiera loop, and then laps of the city circuit.

The men will do 12 laps of the 17.1km loop from the site of the finish on Marine Drive, while the women will do six for a total race distance of 164.3km.

Van Aert (in centre, above) is one of the favourites for the final event on the program for #Wollongong2022.

Van Aert forfeits TT opportunity

Although he was second in the time trial last year (finishing just six seconds behind Italy’s Filippo Ganna), van Aert has made the decision not to do the TT in Wollongong. Instead, he’ll focus his energy on the road race on a course that suits his strengths.

With almost 4,000 metres of climbing, the final event on the program is ideal for van Aert who is arguably the best all-round cyclist of this generation. He can climb and sprint with the best in the world, and he’s one of the most gifted riders for a technical course.

The steep climbs at Mount Pleasant that are a highlight of the city circuit will benefit WvA, and he’ll also relish the twists and turns that are a feature once the ascent of Ramah Avenue has been tackled. The uphill elements will sap some strength but a rider with van Aert’s qualities should be able to maintain any momentum gained going up by attacking the technical section leading riders back to the coast.

Belgium base: Headlands Hotel

Not long after it was confirmed that Wollongong would play host to the 2022 UCI Road Championships, hotels in the region were snavelled up quickly. One of the earliest bookings made was by the Belgian team which is said to be taking up residence at the beautiful Headlands Hotel near Austinmer.

Located around 16km north Wollongong Harbour, the hotel will surely be a feature attraction for cycling fans hoping to catch a glimpse of riders from the celebrated Belgian team which last won an elite road race world championship 10 years ago when Philippe Gilbert triumphed in Valkenburg, Netherlands. (For the women, the last victory by a Belgian was in 1973 with Nicole Vandenbroeck.)

Another star attraction from the Belgian team will be the current leader of the Vuelta a España, Remco Evenepoel. The prodigious 22-year-old star recently claimed his first Grand Tour stage victory, with a phenomenal ride in the individual time trial of stage 10. He finished the 30.9km test at an average speed of 55.676km/h, beating the Olympic TT champion Primoz Roglic by 48 seconds, with the next-best rider Rémi Cavagna (the French team-mate of Evenepoel) at 1:00.

No Belgian has ever won the elite time trial at the world championships but Evenepoel has come close, with a second place behind Australia’s Rohan Dennis in his first appearance at that level (as a 19-year-old) in 2019.

Of course, it was thanks to his stunning raids – in both the junior TT and road race – at the 2018 worlds that Evenepoel first came to prominence. He turned pro the next year and entirely skipped the under-23 category.


* * * * *



Team USA, Belgium and Australia are some of the teams to have nominated their selection well in advance of the worlds in Wollongong.

There are 15 days to go before the racing begins with the elite TTs on the opening Sunday (with both men and women covering the same distance in the two-lap, 34.2km course that is essentially the ‘city circuit’, only without the steepest climbs near Mount Pleasant).

As the championships get closer, RIDE Media will continue to preview the action.

Be sure to look around for more about #Wollongong2022, and follow RIDE on social media for regular updates.



– By Rob Arnold


You can already find plenty of news items and course previews. Search #Wollongong2022 and/or #VisitWollongong for more.