Cyclocross Worlds is always good for a story or two, and the 2019 World Championships in Bogense, Denmark were no different. Set along the sea on the Danish island of Funen, the course did not necessarily have the epic conditions of some recent World Championships, but the amphitheater-like circuit did produce some great racing.
The U23 Men’s race saw a battle between rivals Tom Pidcock and Eli Iserbyt and the U23 Women’s race had a full 10 women in the lead group together—including Katie Clouse (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX)—at the bell.
The Elite races also provided the drama expected when the likes of Sanne Cant (IKO – Crelan), Marianne Vos (CCC – Liv), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) take the course.
Perhaps bigger than the racing, at least for U.S. cyclocross, was the poorly kept secret that officially became public on the day before racing started.
We continue our 2019 Year in Review series with a look back at the crazy week in Bogense. (Or at least maybe it seemed crazy because we were there to cover it in person. I don’t know!)
Mathieu van der Poel Gets the Worlds Monkey Off his Back
At the close of 2017, we wrote about Mathieu van der Poel’s cyclocross dominance, but he was not able to close off that impressive season with a win at Valkenburg Worlds.
We wrote pretty much the same thing in 2018, but for the previous three years, Van der Poel had come up short to Wout van Aert at Worlds. Bogense felt a bit different, as Van Aert seemed a step off his game after early-season team contract issues, Van Van der Poel entered on a 20-race winning streak.
The Bogense course proved perfect for Van der Poel, as he made a killer move on the seaside course’s most technical off-camber and rode away to capture the win and his second-career Elite World Championship.
Van der Poel then went on to make a splash on the road and do otherworldly Van der Poel things in 2019 before returning to cyclocross to extend his winning streak to 35 races before it was snapped by a third-place finish at Ronse.
All told, Van der Poel went 28-1 in 2019. Not like 28 top 5s or 28 podiums, 28 wins and 1 “loss.”
Sanne Cant Joins Exclusive Company
At the start of 2019, there were 13 women and men who had won 3 cyclocross world championships. At the close of 2019, there are now 14.
Sanne Cant entered the Bogense World Championships as a two-time defending World Champion, but getting her third was clearly not going to come easy. As we wrote at the close of 2018, there was a massive group of talented women winning international races, with Cant one of many with a shot at taking the win in Bogense.
In the month before Worlds, Cant showed some of her magic at the Diegem night race and won her 10th Belgian Elite National Championship, but a group of Dutch riders such as Marianne Vos, Lucinda Brand (Telenet Baloise Lions), Annemarie Worst (777) and Denise Betsema entered as other race favorites looking to end her title run.
At Worlds, Cant found herself in a Dutch sandwich before an attack in the penultimate lap gave her an unexpected gap. For a nerve-wracking final lap, Cant held off the orange-clad riders, thanks in part to a bad pit exchange by Brand, and kept her lead to the finish to capture her third title and join Vos and Hanka Kupfernagel as the other three-time female Worlds winners.
After her win, Cant received a hat tip from a fellow triple title club member:
Welcome in the club @Sannecant 🎉 #hattrick 🌈 Congrats!
— Wout van Aert (@WoutvanAert) February 2, 2019
With the Dutch women dominating in the fall and winter of 2019, Cant’s current season has only been harder. She only has two wins thus far this season and has not won a race at the World Cup / Superprestige / DVV Trofee big three. She will enter Dübendorf Worlds as an underdog as she goes for four-straight a month from now.
Worlds Return to the United States
Prior to the excitement of the Bogense weekend, North American cyclocross got some exciting news when the UCI awarded the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships to Fayetteville, Arkansas. A joint effort of Ride NWA and the Walton Foundation, the 2022 Worlds will be the first time the event has taken place in the U.S. since Louisville in 2013.
The week leading up to the announcement was an interesting one, as the organization accidentally allowed its website to go live.
The momentary mishap fueled speculation and kind of made the official announcement on Friday, February 1 of this year a bit of a foregone conclusion.
We spoke with Ride NWA and race director Brook Watts earlier this year to get the full story behind what the Walton Foundation is doing for cycling in Northwest Arkansas and how the stakeholders made the decision to bid for the World Championships.
Domestic racers got first look at the Millsaps Mountain venue in October at the well-attended FayetteCross weekend. The event and region’s ambition suggests another big weekend of racing could be on tap in 2020 as preparations for the Worlds two years hence come together.
More more retrospectives on 2019, see our year in tech, Women’s cyclocross racing perspective, changes to the UCI cyclocross calendar and the WorldTour coming to gravel.