Last month, the UCI released the dates for the 2020/21 Flanders Classics UCI Cyclocross World Cups. That schedule includes 16 World Cups held every weekend from October through the World Championships and a few more on European holidays.
Riders and team representatives quickly took to traditional and social media to express their feelings about the new schedule being put in place by the new series owner. Telenet Baloise team manager Sven Nys was among the most outspoken. A statement reported by Wielerflits sums up his argument, “Why is there so much uncertainty? Organizers live in the dark. The teams and riders were not heard either.” (translated)
Al zeer veel organisatoren aan de lijn gehad. Al heel negatieve verhalen gehoord. Laten we niet opgeven en samen deze verandering aanvechten. https://t.co/QLRGZPgPDT
— Sven Nys (@sven_nys) October 23, 2019
Avenues for riders to submit their input on the World Cup reforms are formally available via the UCI Athletes’ and Cyclocross Commissions. Katerina Nash sits on both commissions, and she was in Tabor in part because of the UCI annual meeting that takes place after the Koksijde World Cup.
Both the Athletes’ and Cyclocross Commissions meet once a year and serve in an advisory role to the UCI’s executive branch. Nash explained, “We bring in feedback from our field and share with the UCI. We share our vision and discuss what we would like to see. We do not vote on anything.”
In her capacity as a member of the Cyclocross Commission, Nash submitted input from stakeholders. “Since I also sit at the CX commission I encouraged feedback from everyone who is involved in cyclocross,” she told us. “The idea is the same. I represent the athletes’ point of view but I want to understand all of it. I don’t know what the race promotors are concern about because I’ve never organized a race. I got great feedback from racers, race promotors, media. I appreciate it all and thank you for taking time to write.”
I’m preparing for UCI Athletes’ and CX Commision and need your feedback. Involved in CX in any capacity?DM me with ideas. I read online content plus comments and chat with people at the races. Here is your chance to speak up. I’ll share your ideas at late Nov meetings. Thank you
— Katerina Nash (@katkanash) October 27, 2019
Nash said after soliciting input, she was still interested in learning more about the perspectives of her fellow athletes. As reported by Wielerflits, Nash and Simon Zahner organized a riders’ meeting on the Friday before World Cup Tabor.
“The idea for the meeting was to listen to the athletes and get their opinions so we could share it with the UCI,” Nash said. “Some of the topics turned into good discussion and athletes and staff gave really good feedback and explanations. I feel like it was productive and I would do it again even if we weren’t dealing with major reform.”
According to Wielerflits, athletes who attended included Annemarie Worst, Eva Lechner, Lucinda Brand, Katie Compton, Alice Maria Arzuffi, Ellen Van Loy, Daan Soete and the retired Nys. Christelle Reille represented the UCI.
Nash explained the main concerns of the athletes in attendance, “The reform and increase of World Cup rounds were the major topics. Making sure there are C1 races during the World Cup weekends and the importance of protecting the national series were close behind.”
In the article, Nys commented on the status of the reforms. “Mrs. Reille also made it clear that the reform is irreversible and that there is little or no room for negotiation. If there are 16 organizers, the plans will continue anyway. That remains a bit frustrating, there is little clarity, but riders and organizers must listen, pay and perform.” (translated)
One of the more interesting tidbits from the Wielerflits story is the UCI representative suggested “Wild Card” starting spots may be introduced for the expanded World Cup series. Preferred starting spots could be given to injured cyclocrossers who missed a season such as Wout van Aert or road stars such as Peter Sagan who want to try a cyclocross race without starting on the last row.
The dates and host countries for the 2020/21 World Cup races are scheduled to be announced on December 15. Stay tuned as we continue to follow this story.
Featured image: Bart Hazen