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Junior races scrapped from Cyclo-cross World Championships

Thibau Nys tops the junior men's podium at the 2020 Worlds (Image credit: Getty Images)

There will be no junior cyclo-cross world champions in 2021, with the category scrapped from the upcoming World Championships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Worlds will still take place in Ostend, Belgium, later this month, but only for the U23 and elite categories. 

"The competent authorities of Belgium have confirmed that both the Elite and Under 23 races for men and women at the 2021 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships can go ahead as scheduled on 30 and 31 January in Ostend," read a statement from the UCI on Friday.

"However, due to the current pandemic (Covid-19) linked to the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the Men Junior and Women Junior races will be cancelled."

Junior racing has already been heavily restricted since the start of the pandemic, and the Worlds cancellation is a further blow to young 'cross riders, who have already been unable to ride some of the World Cup rounds in Belgium this season. 

The U23s have also struggled for opportunities, although their races have been allowed to remain on the schedule.

"We wanted to complete an entire program, but the decision was taken over our heads. Today, we were officially informed by the UCI," event organizer Rik Debeaussaert told Sporza.

"I don't know exactly why the juniors were not allowed to race. We had no decision-making power over it, the government has decided. With the U23s we emphasized that it is an important step to the pros and they can start."

The World Championships take place in Ostend on January 30-31, with the U23 men and elite women racing on the Saturday, followed by the U23 women and elite men on the Sunday. No fans will be allowed to attend.

Last year's junior men's world champion, Thibau Nys, will be able to race, although Shirin Van Anrooij, who became the first ever junior women's world champion last February, is still recovering from a disc brake wound suffered earlier in the season.