THE PROVINCE OF LIÈGE, THE LAND OF CYCLING!
The Province of Liège is extremely active in sports and major events, particularly in terms of cycling. Our province has always been a “land of cycling”.
The Ardennes Classics and the three major Tours
The “Doyenne des Classiques”, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, is a key one-day cycling event. Held for the first time on 29 May 1892 under the title “Liège-Bastogne and back”, the race celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2017.
Since 1936, the “Flèche Wallone” has also been a key date in the international classics calendar. The arrival at the “Mur de Huy” gives the Province of Liège an important place on the calendar of sporting and popular events.
In addition to the regular hosting of the Tour de France, including the “Grand Start” in 2004 and 2012, the Province of Liège has had the great honour of hosting the start of the Giro in 2006 and part of a stage in La Vuelta in 2009.
The Province of Liège's organization of major events of this kind has helped create economic benefits and to consolidate the province's international image. Various studies carried out on the subject have helped measure the positive impact of these benefits.
Legendary slopes for pros and amateurs
These cycling classics would of course not hold the same attraction without the legendary locations that have marked the finest moments of our history. The Mur de Huy, the slopes of the Redoute, Stockeu, the Haute Levée, the Roche-aux-Faucons, Saint-Nicolas, or the col du Maquisard and col du Rosier are now well-known locations for professional and amateur cyclists.
Bike touring and family outings
These legendary slopes are of course used by touring amateurs, but cycle tourism and family outings also have an important place in the province of Liège. A “node point” signposting network is currently being set up as part of the development of a network of cycle routes to support cycling's growing popularity. Additionally, various editions of the Beau Vélo de Ravel RTBF have attracted thousands of participants, who come to cycle in the Province of Liège (Jehay 2015, Liège 2016, Dison 2017).
Alongside major events and cycle tourism, the Province of Liège is also committed to offering training to young people. Various initiatives have been set up to this end.
The Académie Provinciale des Sports (infos) offers some 4,000 young people aged 4-16 a fun way to discover and play various sports. Of the sports offered, “classic” cycling is of course available, as well as downhill mountain-biking.
A “cycling-studies” section (infos) is also offered to secondary education students by the Institut Provincial d'Enseignement Secondaire de Seraing. This includes offering students access to the provincial learning cycling track (infos), a unique piece of infrastructure created and managed by the Province of Liège.
Velodromes and bike manufacturing: Pioneer Liège
The Liège region was one of the first regions in Belgium to create velodromes. The Boverie velodrome was opened on 12 July 1891, behind the current site of the Boverie Museum. It was demolished in 1904 to make room for the Universal Exhibition of 1905. It was here that the pioneers of the Liège Cyclist's Union also imported football, founding the Liège Football Club in 1892. This football section created by the L.C.U. took place just a few weeks after the first “Liège-Bastogne and back” event, in partnership with the venerable Pesant Club Liègeois, which is still associated with the race, and the Safety Club Liègeois and Velocemen Club de Wandre, which no longer operate today.
This football club also played in the immense 1921 Rocourt velodrome until it was demolished in 1994. Various arrivals of the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, as well as four World Track Championships (1950 – 1957 – 1963 – 1975), were held here.
Finally, although now a distant memory for many, the Liège region was also home to many bicycle factories, when this mode of transport became hugely popular at the end of the 19th century. These included the factories of Sarolea, Legia and the Fabrique Nationale, which produced series bikes, and the Liège tire producer Englebert, which later branched out to the production of cycling accessories.