The “New” World Cup: Part 1 – Flanders Classics

This is part one of a three part series on the 2020/21 World Cup. For the first part we discuss the World Cup as it is and the proposed changes Flanders Classics want to make. In part two we will discuss some of the rider and promoter feedback as well as create a World Cup based on the suggestions from Sven Nys. Finally, in part three, we will dive into our proposed World Cup schedule. 

All hell broke loose last week with the announcement from Flanders Classics about the new World Cup schedule for the 2020/21 season. In our 6 things to know about this year’s World Cup we discussed the future of the World Cup and how it fell into the hands of Flanders Classics. For those who do not know, Flanders Classics promotes six classics/semi-classic races each spring including the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem, and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. They promised changes to the World Cup, but what came out this past week as promoters, riders and former riders in an uproar. The response was not positive and somewhat chaotic.

The 2019/20 World Cup

Currently the UCI calls for an unspecified amount of races in at least six different countries:

5.3.002 The UCI cyclo-cross world cup is contested over a number of events in at least 6 different countries. These events shall be selected annually by the UCI Management Committee as per the procedure set out in the bidding procedure manual and the UCI cyclo-cross world cup organisation guide. 

(article modified on 1.09.99; 1.09.04).

This season matches that of the past five or so years with a nine race schedule in six different countries. In fact, in the past 20 years, the World Cup has fluctuated between six and eight races, before expanding to nine in 2016/17. For this season, the World Cup starts with two rounds in the US, then heads to Switzerland, followed by a round in the Czech Republic. After that, there are three rounds in Belgium, followed by a rounds in France. The season concludes, as it had for many years, with a race in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

To be blunt, we think the current structure works. Two races in the US to kick things off, then back to Europe, winding its way up to three amazing races in Belgium and then it winds down before worlds. We will mention one perceived issue as it will come into play later. There are three major gaps in the schedule.There is nearly one month between the second and third rounds. Part of this is due to the travel back from the US, but the bigger reason is that a lot of the European series kicks off in early October. There’s also another nearly month long gap between Koksijde and Namur. Finally there’s another month long gap from Hudsen-Zolder to Nommay Pays de Montbeliard.

Flanders Classics “new” World Cup

We have discussed a little about the changes that the Flanders Classics team has proposed. The biggest change is the expansion of the World Cup. They propose that the World Cup will expand from nine races to 14, 15 or 16 next season. There is room for more countries in their proposal, which is nice. If there are 14 or 15 races, they need a minimum of seven different countries. If the series expands to 16 races, they want a minimum of eight countries. They also want a maximum of eight races in Belgium. So, if you read through the tea leaves, they want eight races in Belgium and then six or seven other races in other countries. Therefore each country outside of Belgium only gets one race.

Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van den Spiegel spoke to Sporza in response to Nys’ criticisms of the proposed schedule (more on that in part two). He further explained their plan and their thoughts behind it. They want to expand the World Cup to 16 races with eight being in Belgium. More importantly, they want to see virtually every Sunday from the beginning of October to the end of January have a World Cup race. 

Flanders Classics has their hand in a lot of other cyclocross races, including the Superprestige series. At the end of the article, Van den Spiegel explains that the next step is to reform the Superprestige series.

Below is the proposed World Cup dates for the 2020/21 season. The last column shows what races already exist on the proposed dates. Venues for the 2020/21 season have not been released yet. That is expected to come on November 1st.

RaceDateCurrent Race
World Cup 1Sunday, October 11, 2020Casting (Netherlands) – Superprestige
World Cup 2Sunday, October 18, 2020Bern (Switzerland) – World Cup
World Cup 3Sunday, October 25, 2020Gavere – Superprestige
World Cup 4Sunday, November 1, 2020Koppenberg cross – DVV trophy
European Championships (Netherlands)November 7 and 8, 2020
World Cup 5Wednesday, November 11, 2020Niel – Rectavit Series
World Cup 6Sunday, November 15, 2020Hamme – DVV trophy
World Cup 7Sunday, November 22, 2020Koksijde – World Cup
World Cup 8Sunday, November 29, 2020Mol
World Cup 9Sunday, December 6, 2020Zonhoven – Superprestige
World Cup 10Sunday, December 13, 2020Overijse
World Cup 11Sunday, December 20, 2020Namur – World Cup
World Cup 12Saturday, December 26, 2020Heusden-Zolder – World Cup
World Cup 13Sunday, December 27, 2020Diegem – Superprestige
World Cup 14Sunday, January 3, 2021Brussels – DVV trophy
January 9 and 10, 2021National Championships
World Cup 15Sunday, January 17, 2021Nommay (Fra) – World Cup
World Cup 16Sunday, January 24, 2021Hoogerheide (Ned) – World Cup
World Championships in OstendJanuary 30 and 31, 2021

As you can see it is a massive expansion of the World Cup. It also is a major change in that every week there is a World Cup race. The removal of the races in September most likely means that the World Cup will not start in the United States. Flanders Classics goal is to make the World Cup the premiere cyclocross series. Think of it as the Formula One of cross. It remains to be seen what races will be in the series and where those races are. As we mentioned, that announcement is expected on November 1st.

This is part one of a three part series on the 2020/21 World Cup. In part two we will discuss some of the rider and promoter feedback as well as create a World Cup based on the suggestions from Sven Nys.

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