Rob Peeters leads the all-Belgian pack at 2012 Worlds. © Jonas Bruffaerts

The all-Belgian pack dominating at 2012 Worlds. © Jonas Bruffaerts

Good news for the Belgian squad: the UCI has officially announced a change in regulations that will likely allow a few more boys in blue to line up at the start of each world cup. Heading into the 2014-15 season, riders who are ranked in the top 50 according to international rankings will be allowed to participate in World Cups.

Previously, the UCI imposed regulations which limited each country to send a maximum of eight riders, with one additional slot for the World Cup leader as well as the current World Champion. With the new rules, a country can now theoretically send up to a maximum of 50 riders, if all of them are ranked the best in the world. This new rule will not detract from the participation of other countries. As per prior years, each country can still send up to eight riders, now matter where they fall on the UCI ranking list.

As Christine Vardaros wrote last January, the inclusion of these riders into the World Cups might also have adverse effects.

Berden hopping the barriers on the last day of Jingle Cross Rock 2013. © Mike McColgan

Berden hopping the barriers on the last day of Jingle Cross Rock 2013. © Mike McColgan

This should be welcome news to Belgians like Ben Berden, who last year placed 37th in the overall standings, but due to stiff competition from his fellow countrymen, is often overlooked during the world cups. The Belgian squad as a whole should have a larger presence come winter. If the rankings remain consistent, they would add five extra riders to their already strong arsenal, according to

Americans benefit most from this new rule in the women’s field. Again, using the current rankings as the reference point, the United States would receive two additional competitors, with Emma White and Amanda Miller both only needing to rise up a few places to bring the grand total to 12 racers.

This rule should also alleviate incidents as experienced by the French Caroline Mani or the Dutch Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn, both who had easily ranked within the top eight of their country, but had been passed over because of cycling politics.

Women Score Better Race Length and Time Slots

Wyman at Superprestige Middelkerke on her way to second place. © Paul Burgoine

Wyman at Superprestige Middelkerke on her way to second place. © Paul Burgoine

Thanks to the efforts of many women, in particular, ’crosser Helen Wyman, the UCI was also encouraged to make a few regulations on all UCI Women’s Elite races.  In the coming season, the bare minimum length of a race must be 40 minutes, meaning that if the leader is scheduled to arrive to the finish line at 39 minutes, the lap count should display one lap to go (that is, if the officials made the correct calculations earlier on).  This should have big impacts on the length of races, especially now that the maximum length of a race is pushed up to 50 minutes.

Also, the UCI is mandating that all Women’s Elite races must directly precede the Men’s Elite races. Although this is a general practice in all but a very few UCI races around the world, there are still a few exceptions, such as superprestige events, which have positioned the U23 and Junior races as the stronger billings. Some major races have even held slagers, which are Belgian folk music concerts in beer tents, to further separate the timing of the men’s and women’s races. Such practices will no longer be allowed.

As Helen told us, “I think every change that has been made is a fantastic step on the road to progression in cyclocross. Stef always says there are two ways to bring about change, revolution and evolution. Obviously evolution is a lot slower but equally can have a better foundation in the long run and the commission is trying to do this.”

Stay tuned to for more updates and our interview with Helen Wyman!