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UCI confirms that Cyclo-cross World Championships will go ahead this weekend

Mathieu van der Poel beat Wout van Aert to the elite men's world title in 2019
Mathieu van der Poel beat Wout van Aert to the elite men's world title in 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI has confirmed that the Cyclo-cross World Championships will go ahead in Oostende this weekend despite an outbreak of the so-called South African variant of coronavirus in the Belgian coastal resort town.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the governing body said that it had agreed to a “reduction of accredited persons and toughening of sanitary regulations” following talks with the City of Oostende, Belgian Cycling and the Flemish Ministry of Sport.

“I would like to thank the spirit of cooperation demonstrated by all the players, organisers and competent authorities, who have made it possible to safeguard the Championships for the benefit of the athletes, viewers, partners, and all fans of our sport despite the current very challenging circumstances,” said UCI president David Lappartient.

The UCI statement did not specify what additional health measures will be imposed for the weekend’s races, but Het Nieuwsblad reports that all riders, media and members of the organisation who attend the Worlds will have to undergo additional PCR testing from Friday. It also appears that there will be further limitations placed on contact between the various bubbles of riders, media and organisation at the Worlds.

The UCI previously confirmed that there will be no junior events at this year’s Cyclo-cross Worlds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the under-23 and elite events will go ahead as planned.

The action begins with the under-23 men’s and elite women’s races on Saturday, with the under-23 women’s and elite men’s races taking place on Sunday.

Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Netherlands) will defend her rainbow jersey in the elite women’s race, while Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) puts his title on the line against Wout van Aert (Belgium) in the elite men’s race.

Van der Poel and Van Aert have dominated the Worlds for the past six years, winning three titles apiece. Zdeněk Štybar (Czech Republic), the last rider from outside of that duopoly to be world champion, has confirmed that his participation in Oostende will be his first cyclo-cross race of the winter.