Leading cyclocross riders and team managers have hit back at criticism by UCI President David Lappartient of riders who opt to miss races in the World Cup calendar, suggesting the UCI sparked the problems by extending the series to 14 races and including races across Europe.
Lappartient tried to defend the World Cup series after Thibau Nys opted to ride the Superprestige in Niel rather than Sunday’s World Cup race in Dendermonde. Other riders have already said they will not travel to Ireland for the Dublin World Cup on November 26 or to Italy for the Val di Sole World Cup on December 10.
“The World Cup is not a competition in which you can pick and choose as you please. Every rider has to play the game,” Lappartient told DirectVelo, with a veiled threat.
“If a rider prefers to ride a national event during a World Cup, they perhaps won’t ride the following World Cup rounds and therefore won’t ride the World Championships.”
It is unclear how such a rule would affect Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert, Tom Pidcock, Fem van Empel or Puck Pieterse. All have opted for limited cyclocross calendars this winter and will miss some of the World Cup races.
The major race cyclocross season runs between mid-October to Mid-February and includes the 14 World Cup races, the eight-race Superprestige series, the eight-race X2O Badkamers Trofee, the seven-race Exact Cross series and other events.
Riders and teams pick their own race programmes, often signing start fee deals with the different organisers and occasionally taking a break during the season for a block of training.
However, reforms to the World Cup carried out with series organisers Flanders Classics have seen an increase in the number of World Cup races across Europe and the prize money but a decrease in start fees.
Cyclocross remains Belgium-centric and the teams struggle to cover the costs needed to travel to the USA for the early-season race in Waterloo, to Dublin, Italy and elsewhere.
A number of riders and team managers did not like the tone of Lappartient’s rebuke.
“I think riders should have the right to make their own choices. Especially when it comes to young riders because my own son is also mentioned here,” Sven Nys of Baloise Trek Lions said after his son celebrated his 21st birthday at home, rather than racing at the Dendermonde World Cup race.
“There are many other riders who make choices and occasionally skip a World Cup. I think that should be possible, but that is a…