Arrow of Heist
|Arrow of Heist|
|Name||Arrow of Heist|
|Region||Republic of Heist-op-den-Berg|
|Local names||Heistse Pijl (Dutch), Hèstse Pijl (Hestian)|
|Competition||Belgian Road Cycling Cup|
|Editions||46 (as of 2016)|
|First winner||Constant Verschuren|
|Most wins||Victor Van Schil (3 wins)|
|Most recent||Emils Liepins|
The Arrow of Heist (Dutch: Heistse Pijl), is a single-day and most important road bicycle race held annually in June around the Republic of Heist-op-den-Berg. The Hestian Arrow is also known as La Flèche de Heist in French.
The first edition of the Arrow of Heist took place in 1947, then known as the "Grote Prijs Heist-op-den-Berg" and was a very small contest for local and amateur cyclists. The concept of a small, unimportant race, survived a bit more than thirty years. In 1983, the last race was organized, and it would take another twentyfive years before the race was reborn in a drastically modernized concept.
In 2008, the race began its second life and became bigger and more important than it had ever been during its first 36 years. To commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the City of Heist-op-den-Berg, a group of local enthusiasts organized a completely new race, however it was meant to be a rebirth of the old "Grote Prijs Heist-op-den-Berg". In this new race, cyclists drove eleven laps through the City of Heist-op-den-Berg, Wiekevorst, Itegem and Hallaar. Each lap was about 15 km long, making it a race of 165 kilometers. Cyclists would drive one time over the Hestian Berg at the beginning of each lap, causing a mass sprint in almost every edition.
To prevent the mass sprint, the route was slightly modified for the 2012 edition. The finish line kept its original place at the Paul Van Roosbroecklaan (IC 11). The cyclists would pass the Hestian Berg two times, starting with a modest climb at the beginning of each lap. At only two kilometers before the finish line, runners would pass the Hestian Berg a second time. This second climb would be more severe: an average of 5,1% over 450 meters.
The complete route was made up out of following streets and intercommunal roads: Paul Van Roosbroecklaan (IC 11) – IC 1 – IC 6 – Tapelaarstraat – IC 1 – Wiekevorst-Dorp – IC 5 – IC 7 - Nieuwendijk (IC 41) – IC 3 - Grotstraat – Voogdijstraat – Bergop – IC 3
In 2016, the race was organized as a 1.1 event out of ten of the Belgian Road Cycling Cup. This meant that it would be broadcasted live on Belgian television channels VTM, RTBF and on Eurosport; as the Republic itself has no television channels. The 195 km long route started in the Belgian City of Turnhout, the actual race through the Hestian landscape would only start about 50 kilometers later, when racers passed the border at the IC 41. Only eight local laps instead of eleven were driven, because of this long entrée. The route was kept the same as the previous editions after the 2012 modification.
The 2016 edition tested a new system of signalisation specially intented for motards accompanying the cyclists. This was done to meet the demands and questions around safety that rose after two severe accidents among both parties occurred with only one week in between, one of them in the Baloise Belgium Tour.
Although this bicycle race is called the Arrow of Heist, not all municipalities of the Republic are visited by the peloton. This changed the 2017 edition, were cyclists enter the Republic via Booischot, Pijpelheide and Schriek before starting the traditional loop between the city of Heist-op-den-Berg, Wiekevorst, Itegem and Hallaar.
|1950||Josephus Van Staeyen|
|1953||Rik Van Looy|
|1957||Jan Van Gompel|
|1960||Willy Vanden Berghen|
|1963||Victor Van Schil|
|1967||Paul in 'T Ven|
|1968||Victor Van Schil|
|1969||Rik Van Looy|
|1970||Herman Van Springel|
|1983||Willem Van Eynde|