Dutch COVID-19 lockdown forces Rucphen cyclocross World Cup behind closed doors

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma Women) at the Hulst World Cup
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma Women) at the Hulst World Cup (Image credit: Jumbo-Visma Women)

After a summer of relatively low COVID-19 cases, the Netherlands is preparing to return to a partial lockdown as cases have skyrocketed from a rate of 2,000 per day in September to a new record of over 16,000 per day despite 85 per cent of the population being vaccinated. 

The outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a government order to ban spectators from all major sporting events from Saturday and for the next three weeks.

The measure could put the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round in Rucphen on December 18 behind closed doors, with course designer Camiel van den Bergh telling Wielerflits.nl: "We have no other plan today. It will be very difficult for us to organize if the measures actually take place. We can also organize without an audience, but the question is whether the municipality agrees. We have a meeting with them on Wednesday. I hope we can organize the event, in any case I will keep fighting for it."

Previous lockdowns in the Netherlands led to widespread cancellation of races with only the Dutch national championships going ahead on the closed VAM-berg course in Drenthe.

The 2021 season went ahead but without spectators, with the Hulst Cyclo-cross World Cup organisers shifting the course to the Perkpolder outside of the city centre, an option that might be used again on January 2, 2022 should the restrictions still be in place.

"Better now than within four weeks," Bram De Brauwer, a member of the Hulst World Cup organising committee, said of the lockdown to Wielerflits. 

"We have to wait and see, it's not like we can do anything about it. There is a plan B, without an audience. And we also have a Plan C in Perkpolder, which we also organized last year. But for now, everything is going as planned. It's seven and a half weeks until the 'cross and the lockdown is only for three weeks. That means there are still four weeks after that. And a lot can change in four weeks."

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