Milton Keynes run up

The “New” World Cup: Part 3 – Our Plan

This is part three of a 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 the second part, we discussed some of the rider and promoter feedback as well as created a World Cup based on the suggestions from Sven Nys. Finally, in this part, we will dive into our proposed World Cup schedule. 

As we mentioned, we love the current format. It’s relatively simple, features races on two continents and allows room for other series to exist. With that said, we agree with Sven Nys that having more countries host World Cup races would further expand the sport. We also agree with Flanders Classics that more World Cup races would make things more exciting. Our only hesitation is to see what the points format would be. Furthermore, we acknowledge that Belgium is still the heartland of cross, but we think it’s a bad idea to focus half the World Cup there.

Our version of the 2020/21 World Cup.

Below is our solution. We are not removing any races from the schedule, we are simply adding more where we deem necessary. Unlike the version published by Flanders Classics, we are going to put actual races in, not just placeholders. Our new races are in italics.

RaceDateCurrent Race
Iowa City (USA)Saturday, September 19, 2020Iowa City
Waterloo (USA)Sunday, September 27, 2020Waterloo
Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)Saturday, October 10, 2020Polderscross Kruibeke
Bern (Switzerland)Sunday, October 18, 2020Bern
Koppenberg Cross (Belgium)Sunday, November 1, 2020Koppenberg Cross – DVV Trofee
European Championships (Netherlands)November 7 and 8, 2020n/a
Tabor (Czech Republic)Sunday, November, 15, 2020Tabor
Koksijde (Belgium)Sunday, November 22, 2020Koksijde
Igorre (Spain)Sunday, November 29, 2020Diegem – Superprestige
Milton Keynes (United Kingdom)Sunday, December 6, 2020Ethias Cross – Essen (C1)
Namur (Belgium)Sunday, December 20, 2020Namur
Heusden-Zolder (Belgium) Saturday, December 26, 2020
Heudsden-Zolder
Rome (Italy) Sunday, January 3, 2021Cyclocross Gullegem
January 9 and 10, 2021National Championshipsn/a
Nommay (France)Sunday, January 17, 2021Nommay
Hoogerheide (Netherlands) Sunday, January 24, 2021Hoogerheide
World Championships in OstendJanuary 30 and 31, 2021
Wortegem-Petegem Merksplas (Belgium)Sunday, February 7, 2021Superprestige Merksplas
Kalmthout (Belgium)Sunday, February 14, 2021Vestingcross Hulst (C1)

Our World Cup overview.

The World Cup will visit nine countries. Only two countries will host more than one World Cup. The United States will host the first two rounds of the World Cup and Belgium will host a total of seven rounds. Switzerland, Czech Republic, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and the Netherlands will all host one round of the World Cup.

As previously mentioned, we did not remove any races from this year’s World Cup. The seven races we added have hosted World Cups before, with the exception of Koppenberg Cross and Spa-Francorchamps. In order to accommodate more races, we are taking dates from several races. Unfortunately, three of those races are C1 races. Under current UCI rules, they would have to be C2 races. Our theory is that these other races would move dates, or disappear, except for Diegem (more on that later). Under our plan, Koppenberg Cross would be absorbed into the World Cup. The Superprestige would lose one race see one race absorbed, Merksplas. There is also little, to no, impact on other series including the EKZ CrossTour.

Finally, we should note two major differences between the proposed World Cup schedule and ours. Flanders Classics wants the World Cup to run from October – January, with a race occuring every Sunday. This is a critical factor in limiting the other races and series. We take the opposite approach. We are keeping the schedule as is (starting in September), adding a few races, and extending it through mid-February. This extends the World Cup beyond Worlds, but we think it is the best possible solution when dealing with 18 races.

Our World Cup races

The first half

The first new race comes on October 10 in Belgium. Spa-Francorchamps, famous for its steep finish stretch and very steep run up, was a Superprestige race for three years (2014 – 2016). This race slots in before Bern, so it gives riders one less week between the US and European World Cup races.

After Bern, we add another not so new race to the calendar, Koppenberg Cross. This race is currently part of the DVV Trofee and has been run since 1988 (it missed three years, 1993 – 1995). We think it is worthy of a World Cup and its unique date will allow it to not take a date away from another race.

Our first, and possibly only major conflict, comes the Sunday after Koksijde. The World Cup would move south to Spain. This conflicts with the Diegem round of the Superprestige series. There will be ruffled feathers here, but we would expect Diegem to move dates (ideally to the Friday night). Our data only goes back so far, but Igorre hosted a World Cup round from 1993 – 2011 and since then it has been a C2 race. With its history, and the fact that it is still run today, it makes perfect sense to add this back to the calendar.

The riders would travel back from Spain before heading to the United Kingdom the following weekend. We would like to bring back the Milton Keynes race in the UK. A World Cup round was hosted here in 2014 and was wildly successful. Milton Keynes is not far from Belgium, so the riders could race there on Saturday. It does conflict with a C1 race in Belgium. 

The second half

After the traditional Kerstperiode races, the World Cup would move southeast into Italy. Most recently the World Cup visited Fiuggi in 2017. However, the course was not well received. We think they should revive the Rome course. In addition to being closer to Belgium, Rome successfully hosted World Cup races twice in 2013 and 2014.

As we mentioned, we have the final two rounds of the World Cup taking place after the World Championships. We are torn on the first race, and to a certain extent, the details don’t matter. We are recommending a World Cup race on February 7th. Currently that date is occupied by the Superprestige Merksplas race. We thought about bringing back the race in Wortegem-Petegem, which hosted a World Cup race in 2001 and 2004. However, this would be the 35th running of the race in Merksplas. So, why not have it there and remove it from the Superprestige.

Finally, the World Cup wraps up on Valentine’s Day in Kalmthout, Belgium. Kalmthout hosted a race from 1999 – 2013. It was a World Cup for the first eight years and a C1 for the next three. It conflicts with Vestingcross Hulst in the Netherlands. The race was a C2 for the past three years and is a C1 this year. We see it either dropping back down to a C2 or changing its date.

Conclusion

What started out as a simple response to Flanders Classics and an idea about how we would structure the new World Cup turned into a three-part series. We know our solution doesn’t solve all the problems. The cost and infrastructure needed to host a World Cup is far greater than that of a C2 or even a smaller C1. Our solution tries to account for that, but it’s not perfect. We also thought about travel costs and the toll it takes on the riders. Without knowing if the points structure changes, we can only assume some riders may skip a round or two. Same goes for races before the Spain and Italy World Cups.

We have no power and no skin in the game, but this was a fun experiment. We did try to account for the natural breaks in the season riders have come to rely on. Especially the late December one where riders often train and prep for Nationals and Worlds. Again, we are not perfect, but imagine if this came out a few weeks ago versus what Flanders Classics published. 

Comments, questions, drunken arguments? Feel free to join the conversation below!

This is part three of a series on the 2020/21 World Cup. You can see part one here and part two here. We hope you enjoyed our insight into the 2020/21 World Cup.

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