The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has confirmed that the 2021 cyclocross world championships will still go forward the last weekend of January. The UCI says that the two-day event, scheduled for Jan, 30 and 31, in Ostend, Belgium, will have stricter measures in place to ensure the safety of the riders.
There has been some uncertainty surrounding the 2021 cyclocross world championships. Belgium, a country with a population of 11.5 million (3.2 million less than Ontario) is still dealing with a seven-day average of 2,200 new cases of COVID-19. Last week, an outbreak of a new strain of COVID-19 in the Ostend area sparked fear that the event would be cancelled. Concern was furthered by comments made by the mayor of the city, who implied the event would not go forward.
After discussions between the City of Ostend, Flemish Minister of Sports Ben Weyts, the UCI and Belgian Cycling, on Jan. 28 the UCI announced it would take additional measures to increase the safety of the event. The changes include a reduction of accredited persons and toughening of sanitary regulations. These measures will be taken to, “ensure a safe event in an extremely challenging context.”
The event has already been reduced in size—junior races were cancelled and no spectators will be cheering riders as they work their way through the technical course. The reduced support staff and racers at the world championships will also be required to wear masks at all times unless currently racing.
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“I would like to thank the spirit of cooperation demonstrated by all the players, organizers and competent authorities, who have made it possible to safeguard the Championships for the benefit of the athletes, viewers, partners, and all fans of our sport despite the current very challenging circumstances,” said UCI President David Lappartient.
The U23 men and Elite women race on Saturday, while U23 women and Elite men will race Sunday. Canadians can look out for Pan American and Canadian champion Maghalie Rochette (who is currently fifth worldwide in the UCI cyclocross rankings), U23 Pan American champion Ruby West, as well as the U23 Canadian champion Sidney McGill. The UCI 2021 cyclocross world championships will be streaming on FloBikes.