This is part two of a three part series on the 2020/21 World Cup. For the first part we discussed the World Cup as it is and the proposed changes Flanders Classics want to make. In this 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.
Feedback and Resistance
One of the most outspoken critics is cyclocross legend Sven Nys. In addition to being one of the greatest cyclists of all time, he is a big fan of making cyclocross a truly international sport. We will have more on his thoughts later in the article. A lot of people besides Nys have spoken out against the changes. Amongst others, was Eli Iserbyt. The World Cup leader says that the riders should have some input. After all, this drastically changes their schedule and focus.
The organizers of the Bern World Cup are on record as saying they were not informed of any of these changes. Christian Rocha said they had one phone call with Flanders Classics, but have received no more information from them or the UCI. Flanders Classics responded that they were surprised, claiming they have been in contact with the Bern organizers.
A young, lesser known Dutch rider, Gosse van der Meer has a very detailed in depth take on this as well. For his perspective on this, and the UCI in general, check out his blog post.
All of our notes, information and research has come from Belgian and Dutch sources. To be perfectly honest, our understanding of that language is minimal, so there may have been some little things lost in translation. However, as far as we can tell, the UCI has remained silent. Van der Meer has a good take on that and some of the financial aspects of this. Obviously, when the UCI awarded Flanders Classics the rights to the World Cup, there was a great deal of money to be had by both parties. Since we do not know much about the finances, we will shelve that topic for now.
What is disturbing, is the lack of response from the UCI. Now, the UCI is not known for their rapid speed and response. At best, we can expect a press release after Flanders Classics has made everything official. Or better yet, a line item in another press release in November. Obviously, Flanders Classics is in charge and deserves to take the brunt of the blame, but the UCI has said nothing. We are not surprised by this, but the fact that the entire discipline of cyclocross is in an uproar deserves some sort of response. At bare minimum, they could at least defer to Flanders Classics. But they’ve literally done nothing.
Now, if we were making hundreds of thousands of dollars (and probably more) off of Flanders Classics and the World Cup, then we would keep our heads down too.
Outside of a limited few, no one really cares about North America and their involvement in the World Cup. To be honest, this makes a lot of sense. After all, no American or Canadian rider has targeted the World Cup in years. Jeremy Powers spent a few years traveling to Europe and tackling the World Cup. Before that, there was Jonathan Page, who was European based.
There has been a real push to increase North American involvement in the sport. The United States now hosts two rounds of the World Cup. In 2015, Louisville hosted the first World Championships outside of Europe and in 2022, the World Championships will return to the US.
Despite that success, there is still resistance to having World Cup races in the US. As we saw this year, a lot of Europeans skipped the first two rounds of the World Cup, especially the women. Keeping with tradition, a men’s team (this year it’s Pauwels Sauzen – Bingoal) always says they will not return. They always cite the travel costs, the toll on the riders and the lack of exposure for their sponsors. Yes, there is TV coverage, but they could get better coverage and exposure at a C2 race in a small Belgian town.
All of this is very understandable and we don’t think anyone was caught by surprise when the new schedule was posted and it included no races in September. They’re cutting North America out, and we get it, but are frustrated by it. Especially when the promoters of Iowa City are on record saying they want to continue to host a round of the World Cup.
The other issue is that this also removes virtually any participation of North American riders from the World Cup. No North American based rider can go to Europe every week for four months. They would need to be based in Europe. While Katie Compton and Katie Keough are currently doing this, there is no North American male based in Europe. On top of that, there are very few, if any, American based sponsors that would support a European based campaign.
Ultimately, we think this is a non issue. After all, the last North American man to race all the World Cups was Jeremy Powers in the 2014/15 season. There were only six World Cups that year and they were all in Europe. Even the top North American men only compete in about half the World Cups now. An increase in the number of races will not increase their participation.
Sven Nys’ and the “Nine in Nine”
One of the loudest voices, and for good reason, has been Sven Nys. He took to Twitter, the radio, and Sporza to voice his concerns. As we mentioned in part one, the new schedule puts a World Cup race every weekend from the beginning of October to the end of January. They also propose a “maximum” of eight races in Belgium along with a minimum of seven or eight countries.
Nys’ has a couple of issues with this. He fears that this will lead to the elimination of the Superprestige and DVV Trofee. As most fans know, there are essentially three major series. While there are multiple regional series in France, Spain, Switzerland, etc, most people know three series; the Superprstige, DVV Trofee and World Cup. Because the World Cup would occupy so many race dates, and most likely take over many races in the other two series, all that would be left is the World Cup. Obviously, Flanders Classics believes this is a good thing.
The other major concern Nys has is the globalization of the World Cup. Yes, Flanders Classics is expanding to one or two countries beyond the current minimum of six, but the condensed schedule essentially eliminates the United States as an option. It also puts a “maximum” of eight races in Belgium, which is half of the series. Instead, Nys proposes nine races in nine countries. Were not sure how serious he was about it, but we ran with it.
The “nine in nine” may eliminate the US as an option. Ideally, the US would host the first round of the World Cup in September, then move back to Europe in October. We have taken a bit of liberty here, but below is a sample of what we think Nys’ series would look like.
Races that are crossed out are races that would be eliminated from the World Cup. We are not saying they should not take place, they’re just not part of our attempt at this. Ideally, they would be absorbed into the Superprestige and/or DVV Trofee series. Races in italics are new races. We also added a column for the current race on that date. All venues were former or current World Cup venues.
|Waterloo (USA)||Saturday, September 19, 2020||Iowa City|
|Bern (Switzerland)||Sunday, October 18, 2020||Bern|
|Tabor (Czech Republic)||Sunday, November, 15, 2020||Tabor|
|Milton Keynes (United Kingdom)||Sunday, November 22, 2020||Koksijde|
|Igorre (Spain)||Sunday, December 6, 2020||Ethias Cross – Essen|
|Namur (Belgium)||Sunday, December 20, 2020||Namur|
|Rome (Italy)||Sunday, January 3, 2021||Cyclocross Gullegem|
|Nommay (France)||Sunday, January 17, 2021||Nommay|
|Hoogerheide (Netherlands)||Sunday, January 24, 2021||Hoogerheide|
While there are a few overlapping races, the desire is to keep the World Cup on a similar cadence as it currently is. The biggest issue would be Koksijde. But, that could easily be fixed so it remains on its date and the Milton Keynes World Cup would take a different date. Under our “Nys proposal,” we would move Koksijde and Heusden-Zolder into the Superprestige. That would make it a ten race series. I’m sure if we asked Nys himself, he would propose a slightly different calendar, but we thought it would be fun to take a stab at it.
This is part two of a three part series on the 2020/21 World Cup. In part three we will dive into our proposed World Cup schedule. You can see part one here.