11 Famous Belgian Cyclists: A Comprehensive Guide

Famous belgian cyclists

Belgium has strong ties to the cycling world, being home to some of the most prestigious races in the sport. Let’s learn about famous Belgian cyclists. 

Belgium has a rich history in the sport of cycling, with many talented cyclists who have made their mark both nationally and internationally. These athletes have excelled in different cycling disciplines, ranging from road racing to track cycling and mountain biking. Their achievements have not only made them household names in Belgium but also gained them recognition among cycling enthusiasts worldwide.

Belgium also hosts some of the most prominent races. Among these well-known road races are two of the five monuments of cycling: the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The exceptional athletes and competitions have solidified Belgium’s status as a powerhouse in the world of cycling. You might also be interested in reading about these famous Colombian cyclists

Early Belgian Cycling Pioneers

1. Sylvain Grysolle

Sylvain Grysolle (1911-1998) won several key races during his career, establishing him as an early Belgian cycling pioneer. Grysolle was particularly dominant in the 1940s when he won the Tour of Flanders in 1941 and the Paris-Brussels race in 1942. 

2. Rik Van Steenbergen

Rik Van Steenbergen (1924-2003) was another early Belgian cycling pioneer renowned for his versatility and numerous achievements across various disciplines. Known as the all-rounder, Van Steenbergen excelled in both road races and on the track. His success in both arenas resulted in him winning several road racing titles and multiple world track championships.

Some of Van Steenbergen’s notable accomplishments include:

  • Belgium National Road Race Championships: Victory in 1943
  • Tour of Flanders Classic: Victory in 1944
  • Paris-Roubaix: Victory in 1948
  • World Road Race Championships: Victories in 1949, 1956, and 1957

3. Eddy Merckx

Famous belgian cyclists
He held the title of World Amateur Cycling Champion in 1964 and World Professional Cycling Champion in 1967

Eddy Merckx, born in 1945 in Meensel-Kiezegem, is arguably one of the greatest professional cyclists of all time. During his professional career spanning from 1965 to 1978, Merckx achieved unprecedented success in competitive cycling.

Merckx’s victories include:

  • 5 Tour de France wins
  • 5 Giro d’Italia wins
  • 1 Vuelta a España win

He also held the title of World Amateur Cycling Champion in 1964 and World Professional Cycling Champion in 1967. In total, he recorded 445 victories in 1,585 races.

Eddy Merckx’s extraordinary success transformed the landscape of Belgian cycling. His relentless drive for victory and ability to dominate in various types of races earned him immense respect and admiration both within Belgium and internationally.

Modern Belgian Cyclists

4. Tom Boonen

Tom Boonen is a former professional cyclist from Belgium who specialized in classic races. He had a successful career from 2002 to 2017, becoming one of the most decorated riders in the history of the sport. Boonen excelled in one-day races, particularly on cobbled surfaces, which earned him the nickname “Tornado Tom.”

Throughout his career, Boonen won several prestigious races, including the Tour of Flanders three times (2005, 2006, 2012) and Paris-Roubaix four times (2005, 2008, 2009, 2012). Additionally, he claimed the World Road Race Championship title in 2005. Check out our guide on famous Dutch cyclists

5. Jolien D’Hoore

Jolien D’Hoore is a retired Belgian cyclist who made her mark on the sport. Her career spanned from 2007 until 2021. In that time, she won 29 national track championships as well as four national road championships.

She was also a fierce competitor in the UEC European Under-23 Championships, having come first in the Omnium and team pursuit in 2010 and winning the points race in 2012.

6. Philippe Gilbert

Philippe Gilbert
Lotte Kopecky is one of the most prominent female cyclists in Belgium today

Philippe Gilbert is another talented Belgian cyclist who has achieved considerable success in classic races. His career began in 2003, but he retired in 2022. Gilbert is known for his versatile riding style, which allowed him to excel in various race profiles.

Gilbert has an impressive list of victories, with some highlights being:

  • Winning all three Ardennes classics (Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège) in 2011
  • Winning the World Road Race Championship title in 2012
  • Capturing the Tour of Flanders title in 2017
  • Claiming the Paris-Roubaix victory in 2019

7. Lotte Kopecky

Lotte Kopecky
She is the second woman ever to win two consecutive Tour of Flanders stints

Lotte Kopecky is one of the most prominent female cyclists in Belgium today. She’s currently part of the UCI Women’s WorldTeam SD Worx and has dozens of wins under her belt, including gold UCI Track Cycling World Championship medals.

She is the second woman ever to win two consecutive Tour of Flanders stints. In 2023 alone, she came first in the time trial and road race in the National Championships, on top of winning the Nokere Koerse, the Arnhem-Veenendaal Classic, and the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. 

Belgian Cyclists In Grand Tours

8. Lucien Van Impe

Lucien Van Impe is a legendary Belgian cyclist who made a significant mark in the world of professional cycling. Born in Mere in 1946, he has excelled in various cycling competitions, most notably as a climber. Van Impe’s most impressive accomplishment is winning the 1976 Tour de France, where he showed exceptional skill in navigating mountainous terrain.

During his illustrious career, Van Impe won the polka-dot jersey for the best climber in the Tour de France six times. His prowess in the mountains earned him the title of “the best climber of his generation.”

9. Johan De Muynck

Johan De Muynck is another celebrated Belgian cyclist who blazed his trail in the late 1970s. Born in Sleidinge, East Flanders, De Muynck etched his name in the annals of Belgian cycling history. 

Up until 2022, he was the last Belgian to win a Grand Tour. He accomplished this feat in the 1978 Giro d’Italia, where he triumphed over a strong field of competitors, including prominent Italian riders like Gibi Baronchelli, Francesco Moser, Wladimiro Panizza, and Giuseppe Saronni.

Rising Belgian Talent

10. Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert is a Belgian cyclist who has quickly risen to the top ranks thanks to his phenomenal talent and dedication. Born in Herentals in 1994, van Aert started his career in cyclo-cross, where he was able to claim multiple titles, including the World Cyclo-cross Championships three times (2016, 2017, and 2018). His versatility allowed him to transition to road racing, where he continued to excel.

In recent years, Wout van Aert has achieved remarkable results in major classics and stage races. Some notable accomplishments include:

  • 2020 Milan-San Remo: Winner
  • 2020 Strade Bianche: Winner

11. Remco Evenepoel

Another rising star in the world of Belgian cycling is Remco Evenepoel. Born in Aalst in 2000, Evenepoel made his entrance to the sport of professional cycling with a bang. Despite having a relatively short junior career and no experience in the U23 category, he quickly established himself among the elite riders after joining the Quick-Step team in 2019.

Evenepoel’s feats include:

  • Victory in Clásica San Sebastián at the age of 19
  • Securing the European Time Trial Championship title in 2019
  • Winning the overall classification and two stages of the Tour of Poland in 2020

This article was researched with the help of OpenAI and fact-checked and edited by our human editor.