The next meeting in the 2021/22 cyclocross World Cup season will take place at Val di Sole in the Italian Alps, and the hosts have chosen to leave compacted snow untouched.
The Alpine course forms part of a bid to show that cyclocross could be classed as a possible event for future Winter Olympic Games.
The organisers have been working hard to preserve the snow as best they can with specialist snow ploughs among other machinery.
Some of the world's best riders will be competing in both the men's and women's events with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) and Denise Betsema (Pauwels Sauces-Bingoal).
Val di Sole has become known over the years as one of the main events in the mountain biking world for cross-country and downhill, with cyclocross races usually taking place in the Milan and Veneto regions. However, an expansion to the World Cup has allowed Val di Sole into the calendar.
The track is set in a stunning valley at the Nordic ski centre in Vermiglio at an altitude of 1,261 metres right at the base of the famous Passo del Tonale, which has been used in road cycling races.
The temperatures are expected to be between a nippy 3°C and a pretty brutal -7°C when the sun has gone in.
The race was going to be held on snow come what may, with fake snow usually used for events such as downhill skiing and biathlon on standby. However, natural early winter snow has covered the course nicely with a further 40cm expected before the race.
Chris Mannaerts, Flanders Classics, is in Val di Sole and said in a video by the organisers: "Sometimes the track is more icy, sometimes more snow. We expect more snow, the local experts told us it could snow another 40cm but it won’t be a problem because the locals are experts at preparing the snow.
"The track has two parts: there’s a more technical track at the beginning and then on the other side of the river, there’s a really steep hill. That will be very challenging because it's a straight line to the hill.
"We’ll see who can climb to the top and who steps off the bike. That will be the key thing in this cyclo-cross race, along with who can make the efforts over and over again."
The venue choice could see the sport of cyclocross be part of the Winter Olympics as all winter sports in the Games must take place on snow or ice. But the earliest it can become a Winter Olympic event is 2030.
Inclusion would be a perfect way to get the audience-friendly sport of cyclocross into the Games, and being a winter activity, it would be wrong to have it alongside the other cycling events in the summer Games.
Discussion of including cyclocross within the Winter Olympics first came about back in 2014 when the International Olympic Committee set up a meeting with the UCI to discuss the possibilities.
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