It’s already been a rollercoaster lead-up to the 2021 UCI Cyclocross World Championships with more ups and downs than the iconic bridge that graces the Ostend course.

COVID-19 Undefeated in Influence

The COVID-19 continues its unrelenting attack on life and sport, and our favorite discipline has not been immune.

First, the Junior Men and Women’s races were canceled just weeks before the event.

Then, Ostend (Oostende) suffered an outbreak of the contagious and vaccine-resistant South African variant of the COVID-19 virus, jeopardizing this weekend’s event.

“The World Cup is currently under discussion,” said Mayor of Ostend Bart Tommelein to De Zevende Dag (translated). We will look at how the number of infections evolves.”

The organizers maintain the event will be “300 percent corona proof” with mandatory negative PCR tests for everyone in attendance.

Now the event is set to continue, with even stricter measures and fewer attendees. Attendees will be confined to functional bubbles, and group meals are banned.

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Aru Out, Stybar in

Three-time Cyclocross World Champ Zdenek Stybar will line up this weekend for another run at the rainbow stripes. The race will be the former champ’s first cyclocross race of the season.

According to NOS, Stybar asked his road team for permission after watching some races on TV. “Then it started to itch and I asked Patrick Lefevere If I could participate. His answer? Always!”

2010 Cyclocross World Championships, Tabor, Czech Republic. © Joe Sales / Cyclocross Magazine

Stybar near the end of his incredible ride at the 2010 Worlds, with a face full of dirt to prove it. © Joe Sales

Meanwhile, former Vuelta grand tour winner Fabio Aru, made a return to cyclocross this season, and had aspirations of racing Worlds in Ostend.

Aru raced cyclocross in his younger years. He raced the Italian Nationals as a U23 back in 2011, and after entering races this year, announced he would ride the Worlds.

Racing cyclocross again made him feel “like a child doing his first races,” according to Cycling News.

However, he has since rescinded the plan, and agreed the slots should be reserved for younger riders.

Stay tuned for full coverage from the 2021 Ostend Cyclocross World Championships.