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UCI working towards reforming Belgian cyclocross calendar into ‘champions league’

Major stakeholders will meet for the first time at the Valkenburg World championships

Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu van der Poel
Mathieu van der Poel trailed by Wout Aert at the GP Sven Nys also known as Superprestige Diegem on New Year’s day.

Nearly every weekend beginning in fall and continuing throughout the winter there’s a major cyclocross race in Belgium. To the casual viewer, it’s hard to figure out if the top riders are contesting the win at simply a prestigious race or trying to bury a rival in the overall classification of a particular series. Riders are constantly racing one of the numerous Belgian series or individual races that make up the jam-packed calendar. There’s the Telent Superprestige series with eight stops in 2017-2018, the DVV Trofee with 11 stops, the Brico Cross Trophy with six along with numerous other individual races. That’s on top of the World Cup calendar that has numerous stops in Belgium including three this year.

In light of this, the Belgium cyclocross calendar is on the verge of being reformed according to Het Laatste Nieuws. The UCI is working with race organizers to redraw the ‘cross scene in the sport’s heartland. A meeting is planned for the beginning of February at the world championships where all major stakeholders and the UCI will sit down in an effort to create a ‘champions league’ of 20 to 25 races.

“We have to be honest. In the current Belgian calendar fans do not see the forest through the trees anymore. Which match belongs to which ranking?” said UCI deputy sports director and head of off-road Peter Van den Abeele told HLN.

While casual cyclocross fans know Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert have been the major protagonists in the men’s cyclocross this season, sorting out which classification they are battling for week in and week out can be tricky. While van der Poel’s dominance may lead you to assume he must lead every classification, he actually trails Wout Van Aert in the Superprestige series by 1 point. In the DVV Trofee classification which uses time instead of points, van der Poel leads Toon Aerts by over seven minutes with Van Aert in third at 9 minutes back. The on top of those to keep track of you need to remember van der Poel leads Van Aert and Aerts in the overall of the World Cup which has stops in six different countries.

While on the women’s side Sanne Cant has been a force she by no means leads all the series classifications. Katie Compton leads the Superprestige series, Maud Kaptheijns leads the DVV Trofee and Sanne Cant leads the World Cup.

UCI present David Lappartient, the Belgian Cycling Federation, organizers, and Simon Zahner and Katerina Nash of the athletes committee are amoung the representatives set to meet over world championship weekend. “The first meeting aims to analyze the problem. Shortly thereafter, the main lines will be plotted, after which we will join forces and get to work,” Van den Abeele said.

What the final league will look like is uncertain. One option discussed in HLN is a champions league classification that would include the current World Cup events, the Superprestige races and other top cyclocross races on the calendar in Belgium. “It is too early to make statements about this now”, Van den Abeele said. “But that the landscape will change. How drastic? Perhaps it is expedient to implement a thorough reform in one go, instead of spreading it out in a few years. “