VALKENBURG, Netherlands (VN) — USA Cycling officials have confirmed that funding is in place to hold the 2013 world cyclocross championships in early February in Louisville, Kentucky, despite rumors in the European press corps that the event could be moved to Belgium.
UCI president Pat McQuaid hinted as much during a press conference last week in the Netherlands, saying that key members of the cycling governing body were meeting with U.S. officials to discuss the viability of the event, set for February 2-3.
When asked by a Belgian journalist if the 2013 worlds might be moved to Koksijde, Belgium, host of the 2012 worlds, McQuaid said that the issue was being considered.
“Yes, I’ve heard something along those lines. I know there are meetings taking place here this morning with the UCI, the organizers and Louisville,” McQuaid said. “And the meeting is taking place to try to ensure that the event does take place.”
Louisville promoters and representatives were not present at the worlds and told VeloNews that they were unaware of any official meetings related to the event. USA Cycling officials said the issue of moving the worlds was not discussed during the road worlds and confirmed that the Louisville worlds would be held as scheduled. It will be the first time the ’cross worlds have taken place outside of Europe — a milestone event for a country that annually holds more UCI-registered cyclocross races than any other.
USA Cycling president Steve Johnson characterized talks last week in Valkenburg, Netherlands, as part of the organizational process to bring the worlds to fruition. Johnson said there was no chance the U.S. could lose the cyclocross worlds.
“Not true, absolutely not true,” Johnson told VeloNews. “That was not even discussed, believe me.
“We do this all the time… As we get close to the worlds, there are a lot of organizational things to make sure everything is on track and it looks like it is. We are looking forward to a great event.”
But worlds organizers have not had a smooth late summer. With alternative energy firm Exergy Development Group, the title sponsor for the event, experiencing financial challenges, the race’s backing has come into question. Trek Bicycles assumed title sponsorship of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross — the series headed by Louisville organizers Bruce Fina and Joan Hanscom — earlier this month.
Exergy remains as the top sponsor for the worlds, however, and Hanscom told VeloNews Thursday that she had every reason to believe that the contract with Exergy would be completed. The firm as paid more than $1.5 million into American cycling in 2012.
In August, one USA Cycling official close to the situation told VeloNews that the Louisville worlds was a top priority and that while the federation would not cut a check to fill a sponsorship gap, it would work with organizers to find creative solutions to a shortfall, should one occur.
With the recent boom in interest and participation in cyclocross over the past decade in the United States, some expect record crowds for the two-day event. Tickets go on sale October 11.