By Brecht Decaluwé in Hoogerheide
The World Cup for the 2008-2009 season will soon be announced and despite the UCI's desire to expand the prestigious race series to North America, the inclusion of a round across the Atlantic is still in question.
The idea of including an American venue is not a new one, although so far intentions to cross the Atlantic have not been fulfilled. Last year the International Cycling Union had scheduled a World Cup in Providence, Rhode Island, but the event was called off last June.
The main difficulty in securing a US World Cup race has been money: the UCI blamed the Providence organizers for not taking enough action to guarantee that the event could be held. Those same organizers had also promised to do all they can to ensure a World Cup in 2008, but their chances to host the event seemed to have vanished.
The UCI's cyclo-cross coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele explained the situation to Cyclingnews after the World Cup race in Hoogerheide. "On Friday, we will publish the World Cup calendar for the 2008-2009 season, and for sure there will not be an American event on that list," the former rider said.
"On Saturday, we will talk with organizers who would like to host a World Cup race, but I'm not really convinced. If they have a good business plan, then they might be added to the calendar later on. But they will definitely not feature on the original calendar," underlined Van Den Abeele. Clearly the UCI doesn't want repeat the 2007-2008 season problems which left a gap was in the calendar. Riders complained they couldn't race, and the Belgian organizers were annoyed that they had to make arrangements around a non-event.
Van Den Abeele then confirmed to Cyclingnews' that the organizers of Cross Vegas will be meeting in Italy to discuss an eventual upgrade to World Cup status in the 2009-2010 season. Cross Vegas received many positive comments after its inaugural running in October. Race promoters confirmed that they would upgrade the race to C1 status for 2008 with an eye toward a World Cup bid in 2009, but said they are proceeding cautiously.