A while ago there was a survey in a Flemish newspaper about who was the best Belgian rider after Eddy Merckx and I believe it was a battle between Roger De Vlaeminck and Claude Criquielion with the latter coming out on top. Unfortunately I can't find anything more about this information.

Claude Criquielion in 1984 as the brand new professional world champion

Criquielion, who unfortunately died far too early at the age of only 58 due to a long-term illness, was a fantastic all-round rider with victories in, among others, the Tour of Flanders, the Flèche Wallonne, the Clasica San Sebastian, the 1984 World Championship in Barcelona, a 3rd place in the 1980 Vuelta and a 5th place in the 1986 Tour de France.

The tragic 1988 World Championship in Ronse

However, Criquielion will always be remembered for the tragic incident at the 1988 World Championship in Ronse. Who doesn't remember the images of Claudy walking across the finish line on foot with a broken bicycle.

Criquielion would probably have become world champion again, had he not been beaten in the final sprint by the Canadian cyclist Steve Bauer who pushed him into the crush barriers. Criquielion fell and his 2nd world title was gone.

The third fellow escapee, the Italian Maurizio Fondriest, was able to get past Bauer who had stopped and thus grabbed the world title. Bauer was shouted at by Belgian supporters, Criquielion appealed to the jury, but Fondriest was later honored on stage as the new world champion.

Criquielion, like all Belgian supporters, felt robbed and decided to start a lawsuit against Steve Bauer. This lawsuit, which lasted no less than 8 years, resulted in a hangover for Criquielion. He lost and had to pay the legal costs himself, which amounted to around €12,500.

The 1988 World Championships in Ronse remain a black page for both Criquielion, which has never been able to forget the incident, and for Belgian cycling with a world title taken away. Eddy Planckaert once said that Criquielion thanked him after his victory in Paris Roubaix in 1990 because he had beaten Bauer in the sprint.

Belga Sport made a broadcast about this that you can watch on YouTube or below.

Career Claude Criquielion

Below you will find an overview of Claude Criquielion's career

Claude Criquielion, born on January 11, 1957 in Lessen, Belgium, was active as a professional cyclist from 1979 to 1991. As a classics specialist, he has numerous prestigious victories to his name, including:

  • Ronde van Vlaanderen.: 1987 
  • Clásica San Sebastián: 1983
  • Waalse Pijl: 1985 en 1989
  • Grote Prijs Eddy Merckx: 1984
  • Brabantse Pijl: 1982
  • WK Barcelona: 1984
  • Belgian Championship: 1990
  • Belgian sportsman of the year: 1984
Criquielion as a brand new professional in 1979 with Team Kas – Campagnolo

Criquielion in 1991 with his last team Lotto – Superclub

Since 2015, in the bend on the Wall of Huy, finishing point of the Flèche Wallonne that Criquielion won in 1985 and 1989, there has been a monument that commemorates his achievements and the impact he had on cycling.

Monument in honor of Claude Criquielion at the bend of the Wall of Huy

The Claude Criquielion Grand Prize has also existed since 1991, the first winner was Claude himself.

Another fact: his son, Mathieu, followed in his footsteps and later became a professional cyclist himself at Landbouwkrediet-Colnago.

Claude Criquielion died on February 18, 2015 in Aalst, Belgium as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage.