Off-Season Schedules Restricted for Non-Professionals
Offseason preparations for your run of the mill professional cyclocross racer are already hard enough, but the powers that be in Belgium have decided to make their lives just that much harder. If a new ruling made by the Royal Belgium Cycling League (the Koninklijke Belgische Wielrijdersbond or KBWB) stands, the likes of World Champion Niels Albert and his teammates from BKCP-Powerplus, UCI #2 ranked rider Zdenek Stybar and his Fidea teammates, as well as three time World Champion Erwin Vervecken, along with his Revor team would have to look elsewhere for races during down season.
The KBWB, cycling’s governing body in Belgium, and despite the country’s profound love for cyclocross, recently passed a ruling that would prevent cyclists without professional contracts from entering road races that are classified as 2.12 and above. The KBWB approved the ruling in an effort to assist the teams that it is excluding, hoping to reduce the operating costs of the smaller teams who could not compete with the larger budgeted elite teams. Races that will be restricted include July’s Tour of Liege, of which Niels Albert won a stage last year, and August’s Tour de Namur in Luxembourg. From now on, these races will only feature contracted professionals.
The ruling spells doom for the late season preparation of teams including BKCP-Powerplus, Fidea, Revor as well as Sunweb-Projob. The questions now stands as to where the likes of Albert, Radomir Simunek, Diether Vanthrouenhout, Philipp Walsleben, Stybar, Bart Wellens, Kevin Pauwels, Petr Dlask, Sven Vanthourenhout, Klaas Vantornout, Erwin Vervecken and Belgian Elite-Without-Contract champion Jan Soetens will race in the lead up to cyclocross season. At the moment, the ruling is on the table for the next meeting of the KBWB, and could be undone before any of the races are affected.