The coronavirus pandemic hasn't finished forcing race organisers to cancel or postpone events: the Koksijde Cyclo-cross World Cup, scheduled for November 22, is the latest to fall victim to COVID-19.
According to Sporza, organisers confirmed that after consultation with the Koksijde City Council they have opted not to hold the event, which has been a cornerstone of the cyclo-cross calendar since the days of Roger De Vlaeminck, before the UCI organised the World Cup.
The race has been cancelled twice since the first edition in 1969, first in 1977 and again in 2016, when high winds forced organisers to scrap the race.
Mathieu van der Poel and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado, both riding for Corendon-Circus, won the elite races in 2019 on the hilly, sandy course.
"We are still living in corona times," Koksijde Mayor Marc Vanden Bussche said. "It would be a race without an audience, and cyclo-cross without an audience is like a pub without beer. That is not feasible.
"Moreover, as of this year, stricter rules for a World Cup have been in place. It's all become much more expensive, and would have cost us €250,000. We've only earmarked €100,000 in our budget for this event, and we want to don't take any chances with community money," said Vanden Bussche, with the shortfall normally set to be made up for with ticket sales.
It's the second race of the 2020-2021 UCI cyclo-cross calendar to be called off due to the pandemic after Diegem cancelled its World Cup round, originally scheduled for December 27. The World Cup is due to start on November 1 in Overijse, before rounds in Tabor, in the Czech Republic, and Besançon, France, on November 15 and 29. December rounds in Dendermonde, Zonhoven and Namur are still on the schedule.
This decision was difficult for the mayor: "Koksijde is a classic. But postponement is not a cancellation. We hope to be there again next year."
Flanders Classics CEO Thomas Van Den Spiegel told Sporza earlier this month that he had concerns about the cyclo-cross season.
"There is a discussion today about starting and prize money, but we cannot rule out that many more organisers will pull the plug. Then there'll be no 'cross at all. There is not a single organiser who is not worried at the moment," Van Den Spiegel said.
Koksijde hosted the rescheduled Belgian time trial championships in August, but cyclo-cross differs from road events in that organisers rely heavily on entry fees to the venues and sales of food and beer for revenue.
"The logistical costs cannot be underestimated. Organisers may therefore prefer to skip this year," added Van Den Spiegel.
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