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Cyclocross

Omicron pushing cyclocross events ‘behind closed doors’

The Superprestige race on December 29 that was set to see a faceoff of cyclocross' 'three kings' is canceled.

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The COVID omicron surge across Europe continues to disrupt racing.

Cyclocross is directly in the crosshairs, and a string of high-profile races across the Benelux region could be on the chopping block.

The Superprestige cyclocross event on December 29 at Diegem, Belgium, which was expected to see a clash between Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock, and Wout van Aert, is canceled, officials confirmed Thursday.

Officials said the course, which passed through the city center along homes and bars, would prove too difficult to enforce the latest round of safety measures.

An Antwerp cyclocross World Cup stop was also canceled earlier this month due to the spiking numbers of coronavirus infections across Europe.

Belgian and Dutch officials are banning public attendance at sports events, meaning that several upcoming cyclocross races will be contested “behind closed doors.”

Officials expect the latest round of restrictions to continue through the end of January.

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“We saw this coming,” event organizer Christophe Impens of Golazo told Wielerfliets. “These are anything but fun times. Will the races continue? I assume so, but we must first consult with the mayors. And we have to look at the budgets. But it is a fact that, when there is a race, all parties involved will have to compromise: the organizers, the riders, and the federation.”

The omicron surge could also cast its pall on the cyclocross world championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, scheduled for January 29-30.

As of now, there are no new safety regulations or restrictions in place in Arkansas that could impact the event.

Many of the top European favorites, however, could face new hurdles when traveling to the United States if the surge continues unabated during the next several weeks.