Cyclocross World Cup race in Antwerp cancelled due to Covid case surge

Rising cases and the new Omicron variant meant that the race could not go ahead

Cyclocross
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The cyclocross World Cup races in Antwerp have been cancelled due to a surge in Covid-19 cases in northern mainland Europe as well as the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

The call to cancel both the men's and women's events that were due to take place on Sunday, December 5 was made late on Sunday, November 28 with other races now set to take place without spectators.

This race was set to be the first appearance of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) this cyclocross season with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) expected to race soon too.

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Pidcock and Van Aert are now instead starting their season at the Superprestige race in Boom with Van der Poel not starting his season until December 18 at the World Cup in Rucphen.

In a statement, cyclocross World Cup organiser Golazo said: "After a thorough evaluation, the parties involved agreed that a full-fledged cyclocross, such as the one in Antwerp has always been and should be, lives by the grace of the massive public turnout and ambiance.

"With the current measures, the World Cup cyclocross threatens to become only a faint decoction of this."

The Covid-19 restrictions in Belgium require spectators to provide proof they have been vaccinated to gain access to events, and the races that have already taken place drew huge crowds after last season's 'behind closed doors' rule.

Boss of the Antwerp event, Christophe Impens said: "Cyclocross in Antwerp lives from the public and it is traditionally a meeting place for all Antwerpers who love cyclocross and atmosphere."

"But to optimally guarantee the safety and health of everyone, we would have to impose a lot of extra measures that are also hardly controllable."

The Rucphen race in the Netherlands, which sees Van der Poel race, is one of the races having to be held behind closed doors with new Covid rules in the Netherlands requiring all sporting events to take place without crowds.

Antwerp may not be the only World Cup event to be chalked off the season schedule due to the virus as Golazo say others may need cancelling if new Covid rules mean that they are unable to go ahead.

"We are waiting for the next federal consultation committee on December 15,” Impens continued. 

"Depending on the decisions made there, we will look at our next cyclocross races one by one, of course always in close consultation with the local government."

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