The cyclocross season is well underway and this weekend we see the return of Wout van Aert. The following weekends Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel also comeback to the discipline, but it is argued that as only van der Poel will race the World Championships, there won't truly be a climax like last season.
"Eternally a shame, of course. The World Championships should be the climax of the year, but it has already been decapitated. Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert will not participate, it will be Mathieu van der Poel against the ordinary mortals," Thijs Zonneveld wrote in a column for AD. "Would they all have raced if the World Championship was already in January, or a few weeks ago? I understand that it is strange to adapt the calendar to three riders. But the cross benefits from their participation, from a battle between Wout and Mathieu. Is it really that bad to bring the World Championship forward a little? Or am I the only one who thinks that the most beautiful hour of winter should really be the most beautiful hour of winter?"
"I think they are panicking at the UCI" - Mathieu van der Poel's insight into possibility of cyclocross World Cup restrictions
The Dutch rider argues that the World Championships could take place earlier in the season so as to allow the biggest riders to come in, prepare, and then have enough time afterwards to focus on the road season. On the other side of the spectrum, others argue that having them in December could lead to the cyclocross season being 'over' for many very early on and thus lead to overall less interest in the discipline. For the time being, no changes are predicted to it's schedule in the coming years.
"It is a pity that there will not be another date for the Cyclocross World Championships. It used to be a good idea to hold that event at the end of winter, somewhere in February. Then all the rankings were over and the climax could be fought for the rainbow jersey one more time," but he believes that with the new style of riders leading the pack, adjustments could be made to make the race more appealing. "The big ones have dropped out in recent years, because the road season starts shortly afterwards. They need to train or race already."
"It's one of the reasons why I keep racing" Mathieu van der Poel targeting Eric De Vlaeminck's record of seven Cyclocross World Championship victories
Lastly he comments on the World Cup calendar and the debate that has been surrounding it. Mathieu van der Poel recently said that the threats of David Lappartient are a panic move, and that it doesn't make any sense to limit the riders who want to race the worlds. "It's quite a thing, that calendar in cyclocross. The UCI has made a mess of it again," Zonneveld agrees.
"There are so many cyclo-cross races and World Cups that it is virtually impossible to ride them all. Those who do their best to ride everything have to travel from place to place and hardly have time to train and recover. The result: hollowed-out participant lists, riders who skip races and classifications that make no sense."