Junior and U23 races cancelled at Cyclo-cross World Cups in Namur, Dendermonde

British Zoe Backstedt celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the junior womens race at the cyclocross cycling event in Tabor Czech Republic the first stage of the World Cup cyclocross competition Sunday 29 November 2020 BELGA PHOTO DAVID STOCKMAN Photo by DAVID STOCKMANBELGA MAGAFP via Getty Images
Zoe Backstedt celebrates winning the junior women's race at the Cyclo-cross World Cup in November in Tabor, Czech Republic (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI announced Thursday that it has cancelled the junior men's and women's and under-23 men's events that were scheduled to take place at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups in Namur on December 20 and Dendermonde on December 27, both in Belgium.

According to the sport governing body's statement, it was forced to remove the three events from the schedule after the Belgium government enforced strict COVID-19 measures through January 15, 2021.

Under the new rules, which began at the end of October through November 19, professional sports must take place on empty grounds, while amateur sports competitions are prohibited for participants aged over 12, both indoors and outdoors, reports Politico (opens in new tab).

"Due to the current pandemic (Covid-19) linked to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the Belgian government has recently announced the continuation of measures and restrictions on sporting events until 15 January, 2021," read the statement. 

"Consequently, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) regrets having to announce that the Men Junior, Women Junior and Men Under 23 races at the next two rounds of the 2020-2021 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup, which will take place in Namur (Belgium) on 20 December, and Dendermonde (Belgium) on 27 December have been cancelled."

The elite men's and women's races are unaffected by the measures and will be held according to the original schedule. 

"The UCI shares the disappointment of the cyclo-cross community and acknowledges the organisers’ efforts in these difficult circumstances," read the statement.

The World Cup series has been reduced to just five rounds this year due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

The racing began in Tabor, Czech Republic on Sunday where Zoe Backstedt (Great Britain) won the junior women's race, Matěj Stránský (Czech Republic) won the junior men's race, and Thomas Mein (Great Britain) won the under-23 men's race. 

Lucinda Brand (Netherlands) won the elite women's event and Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium) won the elite men's event, taking the first elite leader's jerseys of the series.

The UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup will move on to Namur on December 20, Dendermonde on December 27, both in Belgium, followed by Hulst in the Netherlands on January 3, and conclude in Overijse in Belgium on January 24. 

The 2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships will be held from January 30-31 in Oostende, Belgium, and the sport governing body stated that it's confident the junior men's and women's and under-23 men's and women's events will take place at Worlds.

"The UCI remains confident, on the basis of ongoing discussions with the organiser and the competent authorities, that the events in the Junior and Under-23 categories will be included in the competition programme of the 2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships."

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