Cyclocross

Koksijde cyclocross World Cup called off due to COVID-19

The famed cyclocross venue Koksijde has canceled its 2020 World Cup round due to COVID-19.

The 2020-2021 UCI cyclocross World Cup calendar continues to shrink.

On Thursday city officials in Koksijde, Belgium announced the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the World Cup round to be held in the beachside community. Koksijde is one of the most famous cyclocross courses in the sport, due to its long sections of sand. It was slated to host the third round of the 2020 World Cup on November 22.

The town’s mayor, Marc Vanden Bussche, said the challenges of organizing the event amid the COVID-19 pandemic — when matched with the financial hurdles of the event — led the city to cancel the event outright.

“We cannot get out of the costs without an audience and we do not want to take any risks with the money of the community,” Vanden Bussche said, according to Sporza.be.

“We are still living in corona[virus] times,” Vanden Bussche continued. “It would be a race without an audience and cyclocross without an audience is like a café without beer. That is not feasible.”

Koksijde is the latest venue to cancel. Earlier this month city officials in Diegem, Belgium, announced the cancelation of the World Cup round to be held there on December 27.

This fall marks the first time the World Cup series will be owned and operated by Flanders Classics, the group that holds the Tour of Flanders and other major road races. Flanders Classics acquired the rights to organize, broadcast, and market the series.

Its original lineup included 14 events for 2020-2021, but that number shrank to 11 in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, nine events remain.

Belgium has actually loosened its restrictions on COVID-19 in recent days, despite the country seeing a rapid uptick in positive cases.

The easing of restrictions, however, did not impact the financial investment required to host a World Cup round. Vanden Bussche said that the financial model for the series in 2020 made it impossible for Koksijde to move forward with the event.

“Moreover, since this year stricter rules for a World Cup have been in place. That is all much more expensive,” he said. “We cannot get out of the costs. That would cost us 250,000 euros. We have only earmarked 100,000 euros in our budget for this event. And we want to don’t take any chances with community money.”