Will cyclocross carry the Winter Olympics torch? by Tim in Syndey on Flickr

Will cyclocross carry the Winter Olympics torch? by Tim in Syndey on Flickr

by David Hutton

It is undeniable that the dramatic growth of cyclocross continues in the United States and countries around the world. Yet many riders have expressed the dissatisfaction with the lack of support provided by governing bodies, and it’s often blamed on cyclocross’ non-Olympic status.  Olympic sports are what attract dollars, from both the U.S. Olympic Committee and from private donors. Yet the sport’s growth is helping to fund those very governing bodies.

What can cyclocrossers do to change that? You can:

1.      Lobby your governing body for more support of ‘cross
2.      Encourage more private funding earmarked for ‘cross
3.      Hope and pray that ‘cross becomes an Olympic sport

I hope you’ve already been doing #1 and #2, but if you’ve been counting on #3? Hopefully you haven’t been holding your breath. Every few years, a bit more frequently than the regular reinvention of non-round chainrings, the ‘cross-in-Olympics topic dusts itself off and surfaces itself in the forums. As recently as August, it appeared briefly in Cyclocross Magazine’s forums, in a discussion about ‘cross as a potential Summer Olympics sport. Typically the lack of a true international participation and the fact that snow and ice are often missing are listed as the two stumbling blocks by the arm-chair Olympic approval committees.

But finally, there might just be reason to hold onto those dreams.

Diego Vallero of the Italian Cycling Federation explained to De Telegraaf today that, “We are together with some other unions in talks with the IOC.”

The meetings are being held with the IOC to discuss the possibility of having cyclocross included as an Olympic sport, most likely initially as a demonstration sport, as soon next winter’s 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

There are a few stumbling blocks. Olympic regulations at the moment require that all winter Olympic sports must be competed or played on ice or snow but the IOC is considering a removing such restrictions. If such regulations are removed by the IOC, cyclocross would have a much better chance of moving forward as an Olympic sport.

The second area that seemed to previously discourage the IOC from considering cyclocross is what they viewed as the limited international nature of the sport. With the worldwide expansion of the sport, including areas such as Africa, China, and Japan, such a limitation is fading away.

“Next week the board and I will discuss it.” said UCI director Joop Atsma. “If there is only a small chance of success, it would be all wonderful”

With discussions scheduled to be under way as many riders are preparing for the World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, this year’s world champions could very well have aspirations of being the first to take Olympic golds in cyclocross.

Vallero remains optimistic about the discussions that await him when he said, “There is nothing certain, but we have been told that we have a good chance.”

While a North American World Cup would be a dream come true for many of us, cyclocross’ Olympic debut on North American soil would be truly historic. The world’s best ‘crossers gathering in North Americato race ‘cross in the Olympics while riding disc brakes? Someone pinch me.

Cyclocross Magazine will be working hard to get you the latest information on this exciting possibility as soon as possible – check back regularly for more updates. You heard it here first.