Soon after Gastev sent out a press release explaining that they would be asking for a postponement of the 2015 September World Cup Stage in Montreal, the UCI offered a press release, changing the tone from “postponement” to “cancellation.”
According to the UCI, it is the organization’s plan to work with Cycling Canada to secure the necessary financial support to provide an event in the future, hopefully in 2016.
Only several months away from the start of the cyclocross season, delaying the Montreal World Cup Stage would have been a near insurmountable feat to pull off in terms of logistics and location. Secondly, a delay to 2016 would have meant a World Cup Stage being squeezed in the already jam-packed European schedule. In other words, we shouldn’t be too surprised to find ourselves one less World Cup stage than we originally planned for in light of recent developments.
Now the questions that remain will deal with how this cancellation impacts the rest of the season.
Compared to the 2014-15 season, this year will still see the largest-ever schedule for World Cup events, with the current addition of CrossVegas totaling the stages to seven, up from last year’s six. The increase in events, along with the UCI’s desire to move forward with a World Cup in Canada, does reveal the organization’s desire to see the sport expand to other areas of the world.
One of the biggest impacts the cancellation may have will be on the other North American event, CrossVegas, which is still being held on September 16, 2015, although whether the impact is positive or negative has yet to be seen. The knee-jerk reaction is to assume that by halving the events in North America this season, there will be less incentive for European teams to travel overseas. After all, missing the first stage of seven is far different than skipping the first quarter of World Cup stage events.
However, there may still be several silver-linings to the storm clouds cast by Montreal. For one thing, the travel chaos involved with transporting a full professional team, bikes and mechanics across nearly the full stretch of North America in four days time is a far cry from the logistics of moving about Continental Europe. The experience of easing into North America for World Cup events may leave Europeans with a better travel game plan for future seasons, as well as a better taste of a North American stage experience. Secondly, the cyclocross-crazed fans of the East Coast and Canada who might have been considering only showing up for the second leg of World Cup now have a little more incentive to head to the desert, increasing the numbers of the growing crowd at Las Vegas.
Whether resulting in a good or bad impact, one thing is for sure: CrossVegas will not only carry a larger burden of representing cyclocross in North America, but representing the expansion of cyclocross World Cups beyond the boarders of Europe. As a race that has become a mainstay on the PRO CX Calendar, however, Brook Watts’s event will likely be up to the task.
“Of course everybody’s saddened to see the demise of what looked to be a great addition to the World Cup schedule,” Watts emailed to Cyclocross Magazine of the recent developments. “The economic state of any sponsorship is difficult worldwide, and even more so for a niche sport like cyclocross… [the cancellation] won’t have an effect on World Cup CrossVegas and I’m confident that the globalization of cyclocross will continue as the sport gains a foothold in all four corners of the world. I look forward to a Montreal World Cup race in the coming seasons.”
Unfortunately, this cancellation is not the only image that CrossVegas will have to rise above. In the last three years, cyclocross in North America hasn’t shown Europeans a perfect record, first with the 2013 World Championships in Louisville needing to consolidate into one day instead of two due to the accurate prediction of Eva Bandman Park being over-flooded. The second worldly news came with the 2015 Nationals at Austin, which was postponed due to “adverse weather conditions” and the effect on Zilker Park’s heritage trees. Perhaps the latter wasn’t an international event, but international superstars like Marianne Vos and Sven Nys took note and tweeted their surprise.
Make no mistake, Montreal’s cancellation makes three strikes, but forcing the World Cup stage in Canada to proceed without the proper planning and funding would have resulted in a much worse showcase of North American cyclocross.
Unfortunately for some, the silver lining may be a little more difficult to discern. The Application Classic, a gravel event in Quebec, intentionally planned for its end-of-the-gravel-season race to coincide with the World Cup stage, and to provide cycling enthusiasts with the stunning views that the area has to offer for a true weekend full of disciplines. The event will still go forward as planned, giving gravel enthusiasts one last hurrah before the cyclocross season gets too far underway.
Racers looking to score UCI points in the non-traditional areas of the world may have to be a little more inventive. For those looking to start their season off hot before World Cup CrossVegas, there is the possibility of picking up points at two C1 races this year in China, the most points offered yet by China.
Stay tuned for more news and developments of the World Cup Schedule.