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Extending the benefits of leveraging cycling events: Evidence from the Tour of Flanders.

Research question: This paper examines event leveraging for public health benefits with the outcome of increasing physical activity participation. While event leveraging provides the foundation for this research, social ecological theory is additionally applied to further examine how leveraging efforts can increase physical activity participation through an understanding of systems and targets.Research methods: An in-depth case study of the Tour of Flanders (Dutch: Ronde van Vlaanderen), Belgium’s most popular annual cycling event, is conducted by using qualitative data from interviews and documents.Results and findings: Results reveal that community and sport event-related leverageable resources have been leveraged simultaneously through the strategic use of Flanders’ cycling heritage to increase bicycle tourism and active participation in cycling in the region. The Village of the Tour and the Centennial Tour are discussed as two leveraging processes that occur at distinct social ecological systems, using different targets to promote cycling.Implications: The paper argues for greater cooperation between different levels of government operating in the advent of leveraging cycling events to extend the benefits of leveraging.