The big calendar reveal, that we’ve been all waiting for for months. After all the guesses, the wild rumours and the betting pools, we have the definitive list for the next season. Below are my first impressions, without much filter.
04 October 2020
World Cup #1, Waterloo, USA
So, the US is down to one World Cup race. The only time this was the case was back in 2015, and even then, it wasn’t by design: the race in Montreal fell through during the summer. Will be curious to see how many Euro riders will make it over for just one race, especially that the new point system will mean you can skip 2-3 races and still have realistic shot at the overall title.
11 October 2020
Superprestige #1, Gieten
This is pretty straightforward, the first European race remains the first Superprestige race in Gieten.
11 October 2020
World Cup #2, Dublin, IRL
The new country of the calendar – whoop-whoop! I’m really looking forward to this, it’s always exciting to shoot cyclocross in a country where I haven’t done it before. Another plus is that it is possible to get there by trains and ferry.
24/25 October 2020
Superprestige #2, Ruddervoorde / World Cup #3, Zonhoven, BEL
Welcome Zonhoven to the World Cup circuit! I don’t think much will change with the race becoming a World Cup, other than more people will be familiar with the mad sandy bowl that makes Zonhoven so much fun. A weird weekend, one of the worst and the best courses next to each other.
31 October/1 November 2020
?, Koppenbergcross / World Cup #4, Overijse, BEL
Another classic in a new guise. Overijse is one of the oldest races, but in the last few years, it became less and less important, it was a race that was often skipped by many ‘toppers’ in favour of some time in the sun in Spain. When I started covering cross, it used to be a GVA Trofee race, but it’s been a standalone race for a while now. Happy to see it as a World Cup but it will be weird to go to Koppenbergcross NOT on the 1st of November. Also, at this point, I’m not sure if the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee will carry on in its current form (there is no mention of that series or the Superprestige on the UCI page) and whether this race will be a DVV race as well.
11 November 2020
Superprestige #3, Niel
This is probably the only race that kept its date slot and stepped up in the calendar – Niel will make its first appearance in the Superprestige series.
15 November 2020
World Cup #5, Tabor, CZE
The usual race in the usual slot. The only difference is that there is no race before or after, so no mad rash across Europe this time and I’m very happy about that.
21/22 November 2020
Superprestige #4, Merkplas / World Cup #6, Koksijde, BEL
One of the new races of the 2019/2020 season is going to be Merkplas next weekend. It didn’t last long in it’s post-worlds slot, it is going to be just before Koksijde in November. There hasn’t been a series race before Koksijde since Gieten moved to the beginning of the season.
28/29 November 2020
?, Kortrijk / World Cup #7, Besançon, FRA
Glad to see that Kortrijk is back in the mix, it was a terrific race in its first occurrence earlier this season and I’m sure Besançon will be a fine race, too. If only I could forget the 5+ hours of driving between the two on Saturday night. But hey, at least it’s not 10 hours ?!
05/06 December 2020
Superprestige #5, Boom / World Cup #8, Wachtebeke, BEL
I’ve never denied, that Boom is not my favourite race, so I’m not thrilled that it’s back. Wachtebeke is an unknown quantity for me, as I didn’t cover that race earlier this season. But the two races are very close to each other, probably the closest of all the weekends of the whole season and bang in the middle is my Belgian family’s home in Sinaai, so it will be an easy weekend.
12/13 December 2020
? Ronse / World Cup #9, Antwerp, BEL
Two well-known races, not much changed here.
19/20 December 2020
Superprestige #6 Gavere / World Cup #10, Namur, BEL
Gavere in December – can it be any muddier than it has already been so many times in this time of the year? Looking forward to this one!
26/27 December 2020
Superprestige #7 Heusden-Zolder / World Cup #11, Diegem, BEL
Whaaat? Zolder is not a World Cup? This has been one of the constants in the season: Boxing Day means the Zolder World Cup. I’m curious how this will change the race and it’s importance: will racers still feel compelled to race just a day after Christmas? Also, Diegem will be the first evening World Cup since Crossvegas.
02/03 January 2021
Gullegem / World Cup #12, Hulst, NED
Gullegem will be an unknown quantity to me, just like Wachtebeke and so will be Hulst. Hulst is technically not in Belgium, but it’s only two kilometres from the border, so picking this venue, as one of the seven non-Belgian ones, it feels that the conformed to the letter, but not to the spirit of the law.
17 January 2021
World Cup #13, Villars, SUI
Back to Switzerland, and to a new venue. It’s close to the UCI headquarters in Aigle, so if that location is anything to go by, this could be the most spectacular venue of the whole season. I’m really looking forward to this one.
23/24 January 2021
? Brussels Universities Cross/ World Cup #14, Hoogerheide, NED
Brussels was fun, so I’m looking forward to going back there. Hoogerheide is Hoogerheide.
For now, this all feels really weird. Just a few months ago, it felt impossible not to have Koppenberg on the 1st of November or that Zolder isn’t a World Cup, but here we go. Change is difficult but change is also good. I like the sound of the new venues. I like that there won’t be two, hellish overnight trips during the season, just a half.
What I’m not so sure is how participation will change at these races. How many Europeans will bother to go to the US? How many American (or Spanish, French, etc.) riders will be able to afford to come to all (or at least most of the European World Cups? There is no break in the season, how will the riders fare without any time off for almost five months? In the past, there used to be a week or two in December, when most of them flew to Spain more than the usual mid-week trip to recharge the batteries. What other unintended consequences will the new system bring? What do you think of the new calendar?