Remco Evenepoel and his fiancee Oumi in an open car during their transfer to Brussels. Behind them is the organised bike ride.

Young cycling hero Remco Evenepoel in the spotlights in events from Dilbeek to Brussels

Several events were held today to honour Belgium's new cycling star, Remco Evenepoel, the 22-year-old who became World Champion in road cycling last week. Just before that, he managed to win the Vuelta, the first time a Belgian rider managed to win one of the three big stage races in cycling (Tour, Giro or Vuelta) in 44 years. Evenepoel received the honorary citizenship of Dilbeek around noon, but that was just a starter of what was to follow. 

Remco Evenepoel is from Schepdaal (Flemish Brabant), a town situated in the municipality of Dilbeek, west of Brussels. His day in the spotlights started in Dilbeek, where he was received by the local mayor and where he signed a book to accept the honorary citizenship of Dilbeek- the seventh in Dilbeek's history. (see also: photos at the bottom of the page)

Watch the video of the celebrations in Dilbeek (text continues below the video):

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Though the pen did not work properly, he managed to sign the book on stage before a crowd of about 500 mostly local fans; many of them wearing a special cap with his first name "Remco" printed on it. "It is a bit cold today, but when you put on the rainbow shirt of World Champion, you get a warm and special feeling. Thank you for coming", he told his fans. 

Evenepoel is not the first sportsman to become an honorary citizen in Dilbeek: he follows in the footsteps of Belgian football legend Paul Van Himst and football ace Sven Kums, a former winner of the Golden Shoe trophy who now plays for KAA Gent. The Flemish Sports Minister Ben Weyts said "you are an example for many. Your perseverance and strong will that brought you to where you are now, are incredible." 

You are an example for many

Sports Minister Ben Weyts

Evenepoel next headed to central Brussels to appear on the balcony of the city hall at the Grand Place, to greet the crowd. He made the transfer in an open car, with a whole bunch of supporters and fans following him in a specially organised bike tour from Dilbeek to the capital.

Watch how Evenepoel entertained the crowd on the Brussels historic market square this afternoon:

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His wonderful season started with a win in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, his first win in a big classic race. Though he didn't start as the big favourite in the Tour of Spain, he managed to win the Vuelta, extending his splendid form in Australia to win the rainbow jersey. Remco Evenepoel (R.EV) turns 23 next January and is part of the Belgian Quickstep-Alpha Vinyl team of team manager Patrick Lefevere. Some call him the new Eddy Merckx, after the best rider in cycling history, but he still needs to win his first Tour de France - he may have a go at it next year, or either the year after. 

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