UCI hails huge crowds at Hoogerheide cyclocross worlds, hints at taking World Cup to New York

Organizers report some 50,000 tickets were sold across weekend as Dutch stars Van der Poel, Van Empel light up Hoogerheide.

Photo: ANP via Getty Images

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Some 50,000 course-side spectators relished a spectacular weekend of cyclocross in Hoogerheide.

Organizers report the first cyclocross world championships on Dutch soil since 2018 saw around 10,000 tickets sold for the all-Dutch Fem van Empel vs Puck Pieterse showdown Saturday.

A further 40,000 came through the gate for the for-the-ages heavyweight bout between Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert on Sunday.

“It was a super nice world championships, and there was no hostility,” UCI top brass Peter van den Abeele told Sporza, referring to the swathe of Belgian fans that hopped over the border to the small Dutch dwelling of Hoogerheide this weekend.

“This was a world championships like before the COVID period,” Van den Abeele said Sunday. “Unfortunately there is only one winner, but the sport definitely wins.”

Also read: Van der Poel relishes titan victory over Van Aert: ‘When we look back, we’ll appreciate these duels’

The historic Hoogerheide course co-designed by Adrie van der Poel was tweaked for the weekend’s races. Barriers were shifted to maximize sector stoke, and the course saw some rerouting to bring added visibility for crowds.

The bet paid off in a men’s race that will live long in the memory as cyclocross giants Van Aert and Van der Poel took the title to a sprint.

“I think the crowds would have been different today if it was just me, or just him,” Van der Poel said after he won his fifth rainbow jersey Sunday. “We both bring each other and the sport to a higher level. I’ve never seen anything like this in cyclocross.”

Stripped back U.S. World Cup calendar, negotiations with New York

A handful of Superprestige and X20 Trofee races remain on the ‘cross calendar for the winter, but the UCI’s prestigious World Cup series is done.

With the World Cup and world championships over, the UCI is plotting for the future.

The 2023-24 World Cup calendar is due to be confirmed later this month, with Benidorm and Dublin both likely to return after successful debuts on either side of the new year.

Sources close to VeloNews also suggested that London could break into the World Cup calendar next winter.

There might not be so much good news for the USA next winter, however. The success of last January’s world championships in Fayetteville didn’t carry through to the Arkansas venue’s World Cup last Autumn.

Specialist European ‘crossers on small budgets backed away from the disruptive and pricey trip to the USA, while Van Aert, Van der Poel, and then-world champion Tom Pidcock were still rebounding from their road seasons.

“Fayetteville was disappointed with the small startlist,” Van den Abeele said. “I think we may only have one race in the U.S. next season. It would make the trip shorter for the riders and the cost goes down.”

The UCI’s stake in the U.S. dropped from three to two races this cyclocross calendar when Iowa was dropped out of the schedule.

Despite hints at a further reduction to just one race for 2023-24, the UCI isn’t giving up on putting a North American accent on its Eurocentric program.

Van den Abeele hinted the World Cup could come to New York sometime soon as the governing body commits to taking cyclocross to big city venues to help expand the sport’s reach.

“Absolutely. New York is being negotiated. That would be great,” he said.

Van Aert and Van der Poel rewarded some 40,000 spectators with a stunner in Hoogerheide.

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