Vegan Belgian mountain biker Frans Claes won the 2023 Ekopak Belgian Mountain Bike Challenge (BeMC), in La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium, one of Europe’s toughest four-day stages mountain bike races covering 260 kilometres and 8000 metres of altitude gain. Claes took a podium in each of the stages which allowed him to earn the overall title.

Claes has been the Belgian champion in 2015, 2016 and 2022, and twice the overall winner of the UCI World Series Marathon in 2017 and 2019. He has also won eight stage races between 2008 and 2019 and is a member of the Square Group Mountain Bike team. In 2020, Frans raced in the Belgian nationals again, taking third, and weeks later he competed again in the World Championships and achieved his ambition of a top-ten finish, taking eighth.

He said the following about his recent victory: “I think I have now reached an ideal point where my experience and my physical strength are at their peak. My experience in particular was the deciding factor this year.”

He has been vegan since 2009, and he said to Great Vegan Athletes, “I eat 100% plant-based, no exceptions. I always order before I go somewhere where I don’t know it or check out what I can find where I am travelling to. My main reason was for the climate and the effects meat production has on the climate, nature and its ecosystems. Second, for the animals that have to suffer and to die for the human need for animal products. Third, because we save a lot of energy and can feed more people in this world if we want to.”

“In the morning, I like to eat all different kinds of cereals with plant-based milk. I mix this with a banana, apple, nuts and/or maple syrup. As lunch and dinner I try to vary with cooked and raw vegetables and eat as much as possible seasonable and organic vegetables, fruits and nuts. Next to this, I try to eat whole grains and to avoid fast food.”

Jordi Casamitjana
“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.