The UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Bogense, Denmark take place over the weekend of Feb. 2 and 3. While it’s the biggest event on the cyclocross calendar, it’s dwarfed in size by the spotlight that will shine on the NFL’s big show at Super Bowl LIII which gets underway at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3. So which event will put on a better show for sports fans? In our eyes, this one isn’t even a contest. Even with Maroon 5 lined up as the half time show, hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial interests pumped into advertising and two big American football teams going head-to-head, humble cyclocross takes this match-up. Here are five reasons why we think cyclocross worlds will be more entertaining than Super Bowl LIII:
1) Women compete, they’re not the half time show
The NFL is a male professional sports league. At cyclocross worlds, there are women, junior and under-23 phenoms, and elite men who race for the ultimate prize of wearing the rainbow stripes in 2019. The women’s races often produce the most exciting racing and recently have garnered just as much and in some cases more attention than the elite men’s event. While the elite men cap off the championships on Sunday, if you just tune into that race you will miss some other amazing performances by athletes across categories.
2) It’s all action
With no stoppages in play except between races, the action is non-stop in cyclocross. Miss a moment and you risk not seeing the race winning move or an incredible manoeuvre from one of the worlds top riders to navigate a tricky obstacle. The Super Bowl drags on for nearly four hours because of all the advertising, the half time show and the stoppages in play. The clock and the real action only run for one hour. The elite women’s race at the world championships will run for 45 minutes of non-stop action. The elite men race for 60 minutes. No commercial breaks and no air time filled with meaningless analysis while players strut around planning the next 30 seconds of action.
3) Fewer concussions
Both American football and cyclocross are physically demanding sports that see incredible athletes battle it out for a big prize. Cyclists and football players both compete in skin-tight lycra and wear helmets, but the physical risks of racing cyclocross are less severe. Football players put their brains and their bodies well being on the line to entertain fans. Cyclocross racers may discount their personal comfort while they suffer through the mud but racing is usually not a potentially life-changing risk.
4) More global in participation
The Super Bowl is contested between two American teams with rosters of nearly all American players. In cyclocross, riders from across the world gather to contest the rainbow stripes in elite, under-23 and junior men’s categories. While the sport is dominated by Belgium and Dutch riders, seven nations claimed medals at the 2018 championships in Valkenburg. The colourful array of national kits make it fun to follow which countries have riders challenging the powerhouses for medals.
5) Anyone could win
Let’s be real. Everybody is bored of seeing Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. They’ve appeared in four of the last five Super Bowls and have won two in that span. In each category at cyclocross worlds, there are definitely favourites but a crash, untimely mechanical, bad day or other unexpected mid-race adversity could all make the outcome in any given category flip at any moment. The elite women’s race is particularly wide open, any of 10 riders could win, another 15 could be on the podium. The event attracts racers from across the disciplines of cycling with road, mountain and ‘cross purists all duking it out.