Early on Sunday morning it became obvious that the organisation was having a hard time dealing with foul weather circumstances at the Koksijde Cyclo-Cross World Cup. A storm hit the West-Flanders region overnight with gusts of wind reaching 100 km/h. With a sand course and trees near spectator sections it made it simply too dangerous for the Koksijde Cyclo-Cross World Cup to go ahead.
To make matters worse, part of the course near the start-finish area was in a wide-open space on the military base’s runway. A video (below) showed a tent with some generators in a technical area close to the course being lifted up in the air and smashing back down on another tent next to it.
The juniors race which was scheduled to start at 10:00 was cancelled half an hour before the start. A little later the Under-23 men's category race was cancelled. Just after 10:00 the organisers and UCI held a crisis meeting and a few minutes later they decided to cancel the elite women's and men’s races, too.
The organisers claim they were unable to guarantee the safety of riders and spectators due to the extreme weather.
Soon after, Dutch cyclo-cross star Mathieu van der Poel claimed it was way too early to decide on the cancellation of the men's race, that was scheduled to start at 15:00. Van der Poel stated that there would be milder winds in the afternoon. He regretted travelling from his training camp in Spain to Koksijde only to find out there would be no race. On Sporza he added that he understood that the safety of riders, fans and organization should be guaranteed, “but I think it was decided too soon. It was still hours before the race and the wind can lay-off. It’s one of my favourite races and I’m probably not the only one. That’s why it’s twice as sad. Moving the race to Monday is an option but that’s a problem for the fans and TV. The focus is on next week [World Cup in Germany] right now.”
If traveling from Spain to Belgium felt like a wasted trip then the US-racers on site have every right to regret the cancellation of the event.
Riders share their reactions
Mark Legg, husband of Katie Compton, realized things weren’t looking good when the Men U23 race was cancelled.
U-23 race cancelled. Still crazy windy here. Gonna suck if @KatieFnCompton can't race today.— Mark Legg (@MrKatieCompton) November 20, 2016
US-champion Jeremy Powers added his take on the situation:
It happens, even in Europe, mother nature strikes again! https://t.co/nh4WPoDMex— Jeremy Powers (@JeremyPowers) November 20, 2016
With no fourth World Cup round being held the leaders in the cyclo-cross series remain the same. Wout Van Aert (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) tops the Elite Men standings.
Dissapointed [sic] to not race today but I think the organisation has made a brave decision to cancel all races. Safety first!— Wout van Aert (@WoutvanAert) November 20, 2016
Van Aert added more to the unfolding situation.
“I’m at my hotel but Niels Albert told me it was impossible to race. It’s a tough call to make but it’s a courageous one and the only right one to make. Right now it feels weird to have a weekend without racing,” Van Aert told the Belgian newspapers.
The world champion remains in Belgium and hopes that he will be able to train near his home in Lille. After the Flandriencross in Hamme he heads back to Spain for a training camp.
Sophie de Boer (Kalas-NNOF) tops the Women’s rankings. She wrote on Twitter that her skinsuit was still bright white.
Nou dat pak is nog hartstikke wit kan ik je vertellen. Werelbeker afgelast Teleurstelling!— Sophie de Boer (@ssophiedeboer) November 20, 2016