During the latter half of the 2010s, the UCI schedule had a certain level of predictability when it was released during the week of the World Championships.
We would get excited about the U.S. World Cups in September, North America would be host to several C1s and the classics such as Koppenbergcross, Namur and Zolder had their spots locked down.
In 2019, the UCI calendar was anything but predictable on both the domestic and international fronts.
Domestic C1 Shake-Up
Last year, the UCI announced it would be enforcing a rule that required races to have 10 international riders from 5 different countries to qualify for C1 status the following year.
The U.S. had 7 UCI C1s in 2018, but with no grace period to recruit international riders, the U.S. schedule was down to 4 C1s when the 2019/20 calendar was released—Rochester Cyclocross, Jingle Cross, RenoCross and Kings CX.
When RenoCross was canceled, that number dropped to three.
That number appears to be down to 2 C1s for 2020, with Kings CX not meeting the international rider requirement mandated by the UCI.
In the absence of a national series—save the US Cup-CX—in 2017, the C1s have served as a de facto North American cyclocross series. This season, the fractured calendar was split further with Rochester Cyclocross and Kings CX as the only non-World-Cup-weekend C1s to draw the top talent to the same location.
With the domestic calendar expected to change even more in 2020 (see the World Cup news below), there will be more to discuss about the future of Elite-level cyclocross in North America heading into the 2020 domestic season.
Flanders Classics Moves In
The big news on the international front was the purchase of the UCI World Cup series by the Flanders Classics organization. Best known for putting on spring road races such as the Tour of Flanders and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the purchase showed the Belgian company’s desire to expand its catalog of races.
When the purchase was announced, Flanders Classics suggested it would be expanding the number of World Cups from 9 to either 14 or 16.
Earlier this cyclocross season, the outline of the organization’s plan was released. The plan included 16 World Cups that will take place nearly every weekend from October through the weekend before the World Championships.
The announced plan was met with significant pushback from athletes and team officials such as Sven Nys, and riders scrambled to make sense of how the changes would affect their racing and races not included in the 16-race series.
Flanders Classics has increased the financial obligation required of race organizers, which has led some events such as World Cup Bern to not apply to be a World Cup in 2020/21. At the same time, the organization has also been reported to pursue races in locations that are little more than a bizarre pipe dream.
Host countries and race dates were reportedly supposed to be announced on December 15, but that deadline has come and gone. The organization publicly stated it received applications from 31 races, but the final schedule is still TBD.
The UCI calendar for the following year is usually released the week of the World Championships, which take place February 1 and 2, 2020 in Dübendorf, Switzerland.
Stay tuned, it remains to be seen, we will follow this story and all that.
For more from the 2019 that was, see our look at the WorldTour going gravel.