On Sunday, several thousand cyclists are expected to take part in the fifth edition of the BXL TOUR amateur bicycle race that will take place throughout Brussels city centre.
Originally conceived in 2017 as a way to promote Brussels as the location for the first stage of the Tour de France - a campaign that proved successful with the world's most iconic stage race starting in Brussels in 2019 - the race proved so popular that organisers have held it every year since, although the route has altered between iterations.
This year, the 40km course will take in famous landmarks such as Cinquantenaire Park, Bois de la Cambre, and the Atomium with riders participating in three categories: Master, for those who like to go full gas; Cyclo, for a more leisurely tour; those with reduced mobility.
"In recent months, many Brussels residents have (re)discovered the ease and pleasure of using a bicycle as a means of transport. In this sense, the BXL TOUR gives us another opportunity to encourage active mobility to reclaim the city," emphasises Benoit Hellings, First Alderman, Alderman for Climate and Sports.
The event provides a unique chance to take in some of the city's iconic sights from a different perspective and with none of the hasards of motorised vehicles sharing the roads. The variety of categories, themselves subdivided by gender, should mean that everyone can ride at a pace comfortable for them and organisers highlight their ambition for the race to be as accessible as possible to all levels of rider.
"The BXL TOUR has become a fixture in the diary of many thousands of cyclists, and this edition will be no exception! We will of course ensure that it remains a friendly event accessible to all while respecting the safety measures," adds Delphine Houba, Alderwoman for Culture, Tourism and Major Events.
Drivers are advised to avoid the city centre between 7 AM and 1 PM on Sunday as the route will be closed traffic and deviations put in place. For drivers that use the Waze navigation application, the deviations will be uploaded onto the app. An interactive map is available here to help drivers plan for the interruptions.
Brussels City council and race organisers have also been running supporting events in the build-up to the race, all aiming to promote inclusion in cycling - a sport that can often seem a little intimidating to the uninitiated. These have included induction courses for new riders wishing to take to the roads, with professional athletes offering their support to the campaign.
Organisers are hoping that the rain will hold off for the event itself, having had dry and bright conditions at last year's race. Anyone still wishing to enter or find more information can do so on the event website.
Not only a practical and green mode of transport, cycling is one of Belgium's most popular competitive sports and the cycling World Championships will be taking place in Flanders at the end of September, providing a nearby opportunity for fans to watch professionals battle it out for cycling's most prestigious prize.