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Geraardsbergen priced out of hosting 2021 World Championships

Location of iconic Muur unable to afford hosting competition as financial pressures of Championships continue to tell

Tom Boonen riding up the Muur van Geraardsbergen at the 2017 Tour of Flanders
Joe Robinson
14 Jun 2018

Geraardsbergen has pulled out of hosting the UCI World Championships in 2021 over the governing body's €3 million asking price to host the event.

The UCI will announce which city will win the right to host the Worlds in 2021 at this year's Championships in September, set to be held in Innsbruck, Austria. Despite Geraardsbergen's about-turn, the event is still expected to be based in Flanders.

In an interview on local television channel TV Oost, Geraardsbergen's spokeswoman Veronique Fontaine admitted, 'The UCI is asking for an amount of €3million, which we cannot afford as a small city,'

'It is a shame. We had presented a beautiful course and were already in an advanced stage in organising the event.'

The city confirmed that they had planned for a 17km loop around the surrounding areas to finish the road race, though it wasn't clear whether the course would take in the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen, used in the Tour of Flanders.

Fontaine suggested that Flanders would remain the favoured candidate for 2021 as rival bids from Barcelona and Copenhagen had been withdrawn. Presumably, the expectation of footing the substantial bill for the bid will fall at the feet of one of Flanders' larger cities.

To put the demand of €3million into perspective, Geraardsbergen is reported to pay just €50,000 annually for the passage of the Tour of Flanders and will see the Tour de France pass through its streets next year for free.

Geraardsbergen's inability to match the financial demands of the UCI could be considered a worrying trend for World Championship host cities.

Venice is due to hold the 2020 championships but has expressed multiple concerns around the costs involved, and is relying on the national government to subsidise its bid. Last year's host Bergen (Norway) was reported by local press to have overspent by 70 million Norwegian Kroner (approx. £6.5million) operating at a substantial deficit.