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Fewer athletes due to Covid force UCI to change team relay rules at Cyclo-cross Worlds

The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Fayetteville was held in October 2021
The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Fayetteville was held in October 2021 (Image credit: Rob Karman)

The UCI has altered its participation rules for the Team Relay test event held before the start of the Cyclo-cross World Championships at the Centennial Park venue in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Friday. 

Participation numbers are fewer than anticipated due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forcing the sport governing body to reduce the number of riders per team from six to four, while also offering nations a chance to enter two teams of four riders.

"Many national teams have arrived in Fayetteville for the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships with reduced numbers due to athletes who were unable to travel due to illness or enforced  quarantine," the UCI wrote in a press statement on Thursday.

"To ensure that nations entered in Friday’s team relay test event can still field a team despite their restricted numbers, the UCI has reduced the number of riders per team from six to four."

Each participating team will line up two female riders and two male riders to include several categories: one junior female or one under-23 female; one under-23 female or one elite female; one junior male or one under-23 male; and one under-23 male or one elite male. In addition, nations now have the chance to enter two teams of four riders each.

Initially, each team was to link up six riders; one elite male and one elite female, as well as two male and two female riders from the under-23 and/or junior categories.

The UCI has confirmed the following teams: Belgium, Canada – A, Canada – B,  Czech Republic, Italy, USA – A and USA – B.

During the team relay, each rider will race one lap of a 3km circuit before tagging a  teammate waiting in a transition zone. Due to the reduced roster sizes, teams will, therefore, compete across a total of four laps instead of six. 

"Apart from the change in the number of team members, the overall concept remains the same and will provide an interesting and exciting foretaste of what could become a regular appearance. Indeed, the test event will be evaluated with a view to potentially integrating the team relay – in its six-rider format - into the  programme of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in the future," wrote the UCI.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.