Many of us miss bike racing. Sure, there are big races like the Tour de France and Giro Rosa right now, and our cyclocross stars are shining bright on the biggest stage, but we long for the days when we can toe the line and then watch our favorite cyclocross pros race the same course a few hours later.
Can we hold out hope that we’ll all be back doing just that this season?
The biggest cyclocross race of the year is the one race not yet canceled.
But should USA Cycling’s plan for Iowa City Nationals be scrapped with three months to go?
USA Cycling’s optimism for Cyclocross Nationals was not well-received from the start. Many cyclocrossers, including a good portion of our readers, were uncomfortable with the notion that Cyclocross Nationals might be taking place. COVID-19 has raised concerns about the safety of the public and especially the safety of the riders but fortunately, we were able to get many misconceptions dispelled by USA Cycling in our exclusive interview.
However, with the COVID-19 situation in Iowa, even though it’s still a few months away, Cyclocross Nationals looks endangered. Recent reports have shown a surge in Iowa’s COVID-19 numbers.
For starters, the University of Iowa made the critical mistake of making COVID-19 testings optional. Smaller schools may have gotten away with this but the University of Iowa, a school carrying a population of over 33,000, suffered immensely from this misjudgment. The university has a reported 1,395 student cases and 19 employee cases.
Eva Sileo, a student from The University of Iowa, said the following in a report by CNN:
“It scares me a lot that they’ve brought 30,000 people back to campus from all over the world and they really have no concept of what level of exposure they were putting into this community from the get-go.” -Sileo
Why is this relevant? The University of Iowa is located in Iowa City, the city Cyclocross Nationals is intended to take place. We now have an additional 1400+ cases to account for. COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever in the state of Iowa.
Still not convinced? The rate of infection is steadily increasing. On Saturday, September 5, 2020, saw 1024 new cases with 23 additional deaths. This propelled the total count from 67,982 cases up to 69,009 in one day. As of September 17, the number of cases just among University of Iowa students is a whopping 1,836. If University of Iowa was a country, that’d be the worst number of cases per capita in the world.
But here’s the nail in the coffin: Iowa’s COVID-19 outbreaks have been some of the worst in the world. Ames and Iowa City were recently in the top three worst metro COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, according to compilations from the New York Times. Although a lot can change in a few months, as Iowa City has fallen out of the top 20 this week, it seems unlikely that bringing so many people from around the country to a hotspot is a safe bet. Sure, experts say widespread mask use can effectively curb the viral spread in a few months, but Iowa refuses to have a mask mandate or close bars.
At this point, chances of Cyclocross Nationals happening seem, at least to me, grim at most. Canada’s Cyclocross Nationals have already been shut down so don’t be surprised if we follow suit. The event would need to take excessive precautions, even more than Ethias Cross, and it overall doesn’t seem feasible.
We can hope for a Cyclocross Nationals this year, but I’m not counting on it.
Stay tuned for USA Cycling’s next update on Nationals.