‘Only Van Der Poel and Van Aert can afford not to change their price’: Cyclocross riders brace for loss of earnings

Fewer spectators are expected at races this winter due to the ongoing coronavirus situation as well as the reshuffled road racing calendar

The timing of the road racing season means it has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic but it’s also unlikely that cyclocross’ winter schedule will see it escape unscathed.

Race organisers are preparing for a season with fewer spectators than usual, and the economic effect of fewer ticket sales will mean the riders on the start line receive lower appearance fees.

>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<

One race organiser says this is an unavoidable consequence and only those who’ve also forged successful careers on the road, such as Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), will be financially unaffected by it.

“It cannot be otherwise. Only Van Aert and Van der Poel can afford to do nothing at all. They provide extra publicity and largely pay for themselves,” said race organiser Koen Monu.

Rescheduled road races will also have an impact, with Paris-Roubaix moved to October 25, the same day the Zonhoven round of the World Cup is slated for.

>>> Remembering Britain’s best ever men’s Olympic road race result – but should it have been gold?

“There will be a meeting with a representative of the organizers to see what is possible,” the general director of the Belgian cycling association, Jos Smets, told Het Nieuwsblad. “But Zonhoven, that is a World Cup event. That calendar is made by the UCI. Still, we want to see if there is any movement.”

Laurens Sweeck, the Belgian national cyclocross champion, says he will feel the pinch but that the most important thing is cyclocross manages to continue at all.

“It could have been a nice winter for me, but I am a realist,” Sweeck said. “The chance that sponsors drop out and that fewer people may come to the cross is real. And if less money is available, it will also have consequences for us. The most important thing is that we can race.”