Rik Van Steenbergen

Family tree of Rik Van Steenbergen

Cycling, Medals - World champion, European champion, national champion

BelgianBorn Henricus Constantia Maria Van Steenbergen

Belgian racing cyclist

Born on September 09, 1924 in Arendonk, Antwerpen , Belgium

Died on May 15, 2003 in Antwerpen , Belgium

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Rik Van Steenbergen (9 September 1924 – 15 May 2003) was a Belgian racing cyclist, considered to be one of the best among the great number of successful Belgian cyclists.

...   Rik Van Steenbergen (9 September 1924 – 15 May 2003) was a Belgian racing cyclist, considered to be one of the best among the great number of successful Belgian cyclists.

Early life
Van Steenbergen was born in Arendonk into a poor family. He worked as an errand boy and a cigar-roller. He began racing at 16 and became one of Belgium's best juniors from 1940 to 1942.

He started cycling as a professional during World War II in 1942, after being an amateur since he was 14. The next year, he won his first important races, and became Belgian road cycling champion. In 1944, he won the Tour of Flanders Classic, which he won again two years later.
During his career, which lasted until 1966, Van Steenbergen won several more classics: Paris–Roubaix, Paris–Brussels and Milan–San Remo. He also won the World Road Cycling Championships three times (1949 Copenhagen, 1956 Copenhagen and 1957 Waregem), equalling the (still standing) record of Alfredo Binda. His last world title, a year after his second, was won in front of a home crowd. In addition, he placed third in the first post-war championships in 1946. He held the Ruban Jaune for seven years for winning the 1948 Paris-Roubaix in a record average speed for a professional race, covering the 246 km at an average of 43.612 km per hour.
Van Steenbergen also excelled on the track, and won 40 Six-day events, and improved two world records. His track capabilities made him an excellent road sprinter. However, he usually had difficulty climbing, which prevented him from winning major stage races. He nevertheless placed 2nd in the 1951 Giro d'Italia. Some suggest he could have competed for victory in stage races had he concentrated on them, instead of racing almost every race he could enter. It is estimated Van Steenbergen won slightly fewer than 1000 races, though accounts differ widely.

Career achievements

3 World Road Cycling Championships (1949, 1956, 1957)
8 major classics wins (Tour of Flanders x 2, Paris–Roubaix x 2, La Flèche Wallonne x 2, Paris–Brussels, Milan–San Remo)
7 Belgian Road Championships
4 Stage wins in the Tour de France
15 Stage wins in the Giro d'Italia (including second overall 1951)
6 Stage wins in the Vuelta a España
6 European Track Championships
40 Six Day wins
9 Belgian Track Championships

Major results

Most UCI World Road Championships: 3 in 1967, 1971 & 1974 (shared record)
Most Critérium des As wins: 5 in 1948, 1952, 1955, 1957 & 1958
Most Six Days of Brussels wins: 8 in 1948, 1949, 1951, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962
Most Six Days of Madrid wins: 3 in 1963, 1964, 1965

After his cycling career he entered a dark period. He was named in connection with many unsavory practices. He had a gambling addiction and was suspected of drug trafficking, conspiracy and incitement to debauchery.During this period, in 1968, he also starred in the Belgian adult movie Pandore as the character Dimitri. The movie tells the story of an industrialist who neglects his young wife. The couple are looking for solace in extramarital relationships. They make a trip to Greece to save their relationship, but over there the woman pays more attention to Dimitri, a local fisherman. In the context of that era the movie was a sensational, provocative, scandal movie.Van Steenbergen also ended up in jail for a while. He came close to prison for smuggling a suspect package over the Dutch border. But his marriage with the British Doreen Hewitt saved him from ruin and he got his life back on track.

Death and commemoration

Rik Van Steenbergen died in Antwerp after a prolonged sickness, at the age of 78. The funeral was in the Sint Pauluskerk of Westmalle, attended by about 2000 people, including Eddy Merckx, Rik Van Looy, Roger De Vlaeminck, Walter Godefroot, Johan De Muynck, Lucien Van Impe, Freddy Maertens and Briek Schotte. The UCI president Hein Verbruggen and Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt also attended.
The following year, a statue was erected in his honour on the Wampenberg in Arendonk.

Awards and honours
Ruban Jaune: 1948
Most succesfull World Cycling Champion (3x gold, 1x bronze), record shared with Alfredo Binda and Óscar Freire
Swiss AIOCC Trophy: 1967
GP Rik Van Steenbergen: from 1991
Introduced in the UCI Hall of Fame: 2002
Statue in Arendonk: 2004
UCI Top 100 of All Time: 4,900 points

Walter Rottiers: Rik Van Steenbergen. Das Ass der Asse. Bielefeld, Covadonga-Verlag, 2005. 144 p. ISBN 3936973156 (German)
Rik van Steenbergen: Geschiedenis der Kruistochten. Rebo Productions. 1987 203 p. (Flemish)
Fred De Bruyne: Rik van Steenbergen. Mechelen, Uitgave G. Kolff, 1963. (Flemish)

See also
Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen


External links
Official Tour de France results for Rik Van Steenbergen

Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0


Geographical origins

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