The 2022 UCI world cyclocross championships kicked off on Friday with the non-championship mixed team relay event.
Less than 24 hours before the start of the event, the UCI announced a change to the format to accommodate teams that were struggling with travel delays and COVID-19 issues. Initially, teams were to consist of six riders; the change allowed nations to field squads of four.
Also read: Italy beats USA in ’cross worlds team relay
Before the format change, just four squads were entered in the relay. However, with the last-minute change, more teams were able to enter the event. In fact, each of the seven competing squads fielded a four-rider team. Each team consisted of two men and two women: an elite man, an elite woman, and a U23 or U19 male and female rider. Teams were allowed to choose the order riders would go off.
Seven riders started the race. After each rider took one lap, they tagged the next rider on their team who then took a lap, and so on.
Although no rainbow jersey was awarded, riders had their race faces on — as well as ear-to-ear smiles — and put on a show for the crowd of several hundred, while also getting a chance to take a “hot lap” preview of the updated course.
Mostly sunny skies, some wind, and cool temperatures greeted riders and fans in Fayetteville on Friday.
Team USA readied to roll out from their hotel.
As with any UCI event, doping controls were on hand.
Team USA took a few practice laps on the 3.1km course before the start of the mixed relay event.
The recently retired Stephen Hyde (right) is one of the Team USA coaches. He took a few laps of the course to show some of the riders the best lines to take.
While the course was soft and not terribly muddy, riders still asked team mechanics to keep their bikes clean.
Rainbow stripes were not awarded on Friday for the mixed relay — but they were in abundance at the race venue.
Team USA riders specified their desired tires and pressure for Friday’s event.
Team Italy was slightly less formal than Team USA with tire pressure specs.
Katie Clouse warmed up for the team relay. She was the second rider off for Team USA-A.
The UCI inspected Clouse’s bike for unauthorized motors or other banned technology.
Clara Honsinger’s Cannondale was scanned for a motor by a UCI official.
Katerina Nash’s bike was not excluded from a UCI check.
A UCI official checking Nash for a motor?
Madigan Munro, who started second for Team USA-B, warmed up on rollers.
Riders who started second, third, and fourth lined up on the fence and waited for a teammate to tag them in.
Clara Honsinger, the third rider for Team USA-A, tagged Scott Funston who anchored Team USA-A.
Funston finished just seven seconds behind Davide Bramati of Team Italy.
Team Italy celebrated when their result was declared official. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
The 2022 UCI world cyclocross championships mixed team relay podium of Team USA (left), Team Italy, and Team Belgium.
After the mixed team relay event was wrapped up, riders on teams that did not participate in the race took to the course for a preview. Lucinda Brand (The Netherlands) will try to defend her world title on Saturday.
Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) did not race in the mixed team relay event, but he was at the course for a preview ride. The Ineos Grenadier will try to win his first elite world cyclocross championships on Sunday.