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Massive crowds at 'cross Worlds make organizers cautious

By:
Brecht Decaluwé
Published:
January 29, 2012, 10:08 GMT,
Updated:
January 29, 2012, 12:16 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, January 30, 2012
Race:
UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships
Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)

Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quickstep)

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Over 50,000 expected to turn up

With the cyclo-cross world championships being organized in the heart of the cyclo-cross world, being the Flanders region in Belgium, massive crowds are expected to show up. Shortly before the actual races the organizers are taking steps which should avoid problems in the coastal town of Koksijde on Sunday afternoon.

On Friday evening the organizers decided that they would no longer sell tickets on the day of the race. Earlier this week the Koksijde organizing committee announced that about 30,000 tickets were already sold but during the following days about 20,000 additional tickets were sold. Not all spectators are expected to show up on Sunday as a reasonable number of people solely bought a ticket for the racing action on Saturday, the first day of the ‘cross world championships.

Then again many of those people bought a combi-ticket which allows them entrance for both racing days. About 13,000 people attended the races of the youth categories where Dutch riders Mathieu van der Poel and Lars van der Haar crowned themselves world champion. On Saturday evening the organizers said that 51000 tickets were sold for Sunday’s day of racing in the dunes of Koksijde. That number probably includes VIP’s but not the spectators who bought their tickets in combination with a railway ticket. The situation along the course in Koksijde will be incredible as one can expect that – somewhat drunk – Belgians will create an incredible atmosphere. Top favorite Sven Nys already described it as if a football player would score a goal in the Champions League in front of a 50000 crowd, but then for one hour. Nys also thought about using ear plugs as the noise of this crowd would be hard to stand.

Despite the cancellation of tickets sales on Sunday it seems like the organizers still underestimated this high interest for their event. On Saturday evening they announced that during the Elite Men’s race an extra measure would be put in place to avoid problems during the race. After the first lap the crossings throughout the course will be shut. By taking this measure there’s no risk that spectators would be blocking the way for the riders. As an extra measure the organizers already added a second line of fencing to make sure the spectators would not be able to touch the riders when they pass.

It’s unsure whether all these measures will avoid problems. The photographers on site already warned that it would be nearly impossible for them to take snaps of the racing action on the course and at the finish line as they are not allowed to walk on the course, nor use the crossings.


 

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