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Australian Cyclo-Cross Championships cancelled again

Cyclocross: 50th Otegem 2018
Illustration / Mud
/ © Tim De Waele
A mud loaded cyclo-cross course (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Australia will not be crowning any cyclo-cross champions for a second year running as, after twice being rescheduled, the race for the green and gold jersey in 2021 has now been cancelled. The decision was made after it became clear that domestic border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were likely to continue to limit the ability of riders from across the nation to attend.

The event was originally due to run near the end of the nation’s cyclocross season in August at Broadford Victoria, though with lockdowns in the state to try and control COVID-19 case numbers it was rescheduled to October 17 and shifted to Creswick, near Ballarat. As the lockdown in the state's capital of Melbourne extended and restrictions on gatherings remained throughout the rest of the state, the event was again rescheduled to November 27-28th, stretching out the season until nearly the end of the southern hemisphere spring. 

Now as Victoria opens up, with rising vaccination levels leading to an easing of restrictions, a cyclo-cross event can and will run in the former gold mining town of Creswick but the problem remains that many riders from around the nation won’t be able to make it. Those travelling from most of Australia's states and territories to Victoria face restrictions and quarantine requirements, largely on the return journey, given the southern state has COVID-19 case numbers in the thousands while many areas of the nation are largely free of the coronavirus.

“Due to the inability of members from all states and territories being able to attend, a decision was made with Corporate Cycling and Voga Cycling to cancel the National Championships element of the weekend,” said AusCycling in a statement.

“But while the green and gold jersey is not up for grabs, we still encourage all those in and around Melbourne to get out on the bike and support the Cross4aCause cyclo-cross event to raise funds for MND [motor neurone disease] Victoria.”

The cycling calendar in Australia has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as while case numbers in the nation have been relatively low by international standards the border restrictions, lockdowns and gathering limits that have been in place to keep them that way have taken a toll on events.

The Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race have been removed from the international race calendar for two years running, a number of National Road Series events have been postponed or cancelled and only the opening weekend of the National Cyclo-cross series took place in 2021. Local event’s too in some locations have been hit hard, with the Victorian and the New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory season barely getting underway before growing COVID-19 case numbers in both states led to movement restrictions.

“We appreciate the understanding in what has been a difficult year and look forward to loading up the CX calendar in 2022,” said AusCycling.

The last time the Australian Cyclo-Cross National Championships was run, in 2019, Chris Jongewaard won a fifth national title while Peta Mullens took a second on the muddy grounds of a winery in Victoria’s King Valley.

Australia and New Zealand generally deliver the first national cyclo-cross champions of the season as with winter on the wane in August in the southern hemisphere their cyclo-cross season is winding down just as the international calendar of events starts. New Zealand did manage to fit in its National Championship event just before a nation-wide lockdown in August this year, with Kate McIlroy taking a second women’s title while 20 year old Josh Burnett captured his first win on a borrowed bike.