Belgian cyclo-cross riders are currently opposing the Belgian cycling federation (Belgische Wielerbond, BWB) on the prize money offered to them at the national championships, this season scheduled to take place on January 6 in Hofstade. Noting the success the muddy discipline has in Europe, they demand a raise of the financial appeal that goes with winning the title.
"We won't tolerate any longer that the prize money is only € 5,000, while in the last five years the organisers of the Championships have each been funded with more than € 100,000 through the Belgian cycling federation," Hans van Kasteren, the Dutch manager of the Belgian Fidea team, told Sportwereld. "If the federation doesn't give us reason, actions will follow. We will start [the championship - ed.], but we'll then collectively abandon. We have proposed that we either get the television rights of the championships, or an increase of the prize money. We don't want any start money, though."
In this discord, the Belgian federation seems to be as hard-headed as the representative of the riders. "The prize money stays the same," replied Tom Van Damme, head of the BWB. "It was raised last year from the level of a national 'cross to the one of an international competition of first category. The teams get a certain amount of VIP entry and lunch tickets. It's true that cyclo-cross is very successful, but if it drops in popularity at one point we won't turn to knock on Van Kasteren's door, either."
BWB chairman Laurent De Backer put it even more bluntly, saying, "If they boycott the national championships, it's simple: then they won't go to the Worlds, either. End of story."