Flanders could be the host of the 2021 UCI Road World Championships, with the region's sports minister saying it is ready to stand as a candidate.
The UCI is due to announce it's selection for 2021 host in September this year, with prospective candidates able to apply up until June. The 2021 edition of the Worlds will mark a centenary of rainbow bands, with the first amateur Worlds road race taking place in 1921.
A professional race was introduced in 1927 and ran in conjunction before the amateur version was scrapped after the 1995 race.
Flemish sports minister Philippe Muyters has reportedly got a 3.5m euro budget for hosting the races, which will include individual time trials and team time trials as well as road races, and could host in consultation with event companies Golazo and Flanders Classics, according to Sporza (opens in new tab).
"Flanders is on course [to host the Worlds], but it's been since 2002 in Zolder that we organised the World Championships here, and now we have the chance to get it to Flanders in the jubilee year 2021," said Muytens.
"The economic impact of such a World Championships is considerable and is cautiously estimated at 30m euros," he added, "although we may be even more ambitious as a real cycling region."
Hosts have struggled in recent years to balance the books. 2014 host Ponferrada, Spain was reportedly left with multi-million euro losses after failing to turn a profit on the event, while last year's host Bergen, Norway face similar financial woes despite the event being hailed as a success.
Start and finish locations for potential Flanders routes have yet to be finalised, but Minister-President of Flanders Geert Bourgeois is in full support that the Worlds would be a valuable opportunity for the Belgian region.
"Organising the World Championships would be a great opportunity," Bourgeois said.
"Not only for the fans who get the chance to see the absolute world's best at work for several days in a row, but also for the image of Flanders in the world.
"The World Championships is one of those sporting events that really reach screens anywhere in the world's smallest corners."
This year's Worlds will be contested in Innsbruck in Austria's Tyrol region, while the 2019 edition will head to Britain for the first time since Goodwood 1982 and take place in Yorkshire.
The 2020 host is still yet to be confirmed, with a decision to be announced soon by the UCI.
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