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The UCI world cyclocross championships will go ahead on January 30 – 31, 2021 as planned.
However, don’t expect to see fans lining the course, or crowding the pits in Ostend, Belgium.
Ostend mayor Bart Tommelein offered optimism ahead of the event to be run “behind closed doors.”
“No one could have predicted a year ago that we would organize the cyclocross World Cup without an audience, but that is the only right decision today,” the mayor said.
Sporza reports Monday that the UCI, the World Cup series, and the Belgian and Flemish governments with the approval of the City of Ostend will move forward with the championship event.
Flemish sports minister Ben Weys said, “All parties have made efforts to make the World Cup possible in these difficult times.”
The 2020 season has seen all but five of fourteen events canceled due to the impact of the pandemic.
“It is impossible to describe how it felt to work towards this decision,” said organizer Rik Debeaussaert. “We have always believed in it and examined all the different scenarios.”
“We are therefore very proud that all the hard work in recent weeks, months and years has finally led to a decision. Now we just look ahead and count down the days to the spectacle,” Debeaussaert added.
On the men’s side, a battle is shaping up between Toon Aerts (Telenet–Baloise Lions) who could be the spoiler in the years-long rivalry between Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) who is the defending world champion. Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) is another one to keep an eye on as he’s currently ranked second in UCI points.
On the women’s side, current world and European champion Dutchwoman Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Alpecin-Fenix) will undoubtedly have to face compatriots Lucina Brand (Telenet–Baloise Lions) and Annemarie Worst (777) for the rainbow stripes.
Just last week, American Gage Hecht (Trek Factory Racing) indicated he’s trying to remain circumspect about racing opportunities but is placing health and safety concerns ahead of racing priorities.
“I will not fly to Europe if [the pandemic] increases the chance that I or someone else will get the coronavirus,” Hecht said.