With Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne the day after, the opening weekend of the Flemish cycling season was another success story. Not only for the elite riders (men & women), but also for cycling loving Flanders who saw two excellent races, were present on the side of the road and in front of their tv screen. Sunday there was the Proximus Cyclo challenge for cycling fans the whole event was broadcasted live on radio Studio Brussel!
With close to 739 000 viewers on Saturday, the viewership has been steadily rising since the dip in 2015. The race on Sunday, Kuurne-Brussl-Kuurne, even had over 800 000 viewers and it’s recovering nicely from the spike of almost 900 000 viewers in 2015. Both organisers can be satisfied with these numbers. Since, 2015 the aggregated viewership hasn’t been under 1,5 million viewers and an average market share of ~ 65% on Flemish tv. Especially if you know that the Europa League game of Tottenham Spurs vs KAA Gent had a viewership of 782,2 thousand and the Champions League game of the day before had 301 632. In other words, cycling still compares favorably with football.
However, there’s one issue Belgian cycling needs to find an answer for. The youth doesn’t want to cycle anymore as a sport. While the youth development in football and hockey are ever expanding, the development in cycling has been downsizing. For 15 and 16 year olds there has been a fall of 20% in participants since 2007. For 17 and 18 year olds, this is -25% since 2009... For the under 23 year olds, the drop is an immense 35% since 2011!
Adequate research seems necessary to form a plan on how to get the Belgian youth interested in cycling and get them cycling again in order to rejuvenate one of our traditional sports.