‘Cyclo-cross can’t exist with just three riders’ - Sven Nys on CX appearance fee disparity

Some CX riders reportedly forced to race for free due to large appearance fees handed to Tom Pidcock, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert

Wout van Aert
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sven Nys, the Belgian cyclo-cross legend and two-time World Champion, has said that  a more equal balance is needed in cyclo-cross appearance fees handed out to riders by race organisers.

The fees paid to the star riders on the European cyclo-cross circuit have attracted criticism in recent weeks, with other riders claiming they have had to race for free due to organisers spending all their budget on attracting Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock.

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Nys said he believes urgent conversations are needed with all cyclo-cross stakeholders to ensure a healthier future for the discipline.

“We want to keep all riders involved in our sport, so we need to to think more about others and less about Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock,” Nys said. “It’s important, cyclo-cross can not exist with just three riders.”

Nys said  that the only way to reach a resolution to the issue is to get all parties involved around a table with the aim of achieving an equal balance to create a level financial playing field.

“We can’t compare cyclo-cross with road racing. Most of the riders have their own expenses from travelling to Benidorm or places like Dublin. If they aren’t able to get a fee at that moment to come to some races, they’re going to decide to race in Belgium because it costs less money,” Nys said.

“I think we need to talk with everyone involved in cyclo-cross. Race organisers, the UCI, athletes and teams, then we can not solely bring money to the biggest riders, but make a good balanced budget so that others are able to afford things like their travel costs,” he added. “It’s really not in a good balance right now.”

“The big guys only race 10-15 races a season. Although we need to think beyond those three riders because we have up to 40 races in a CX season. If we only think about those 10-15 races with Wout, Mathieu and Tom Pidcock what will we then do with all the other riders?

“The World Cup starts in October, we need to think about those riders that start those races then and not only about the big guys who join in December.”

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