Mathieu van der Poel descends into the famed "pit" on the sand dunes of the Zonhoven World Cup. Crowds of fans line the barriers, which are padded to protect riders in crashes.

Big changes for the 2024-25 Cyclocross World Cup

No more U.S. round, but there's a trip to Sardinia and protected races as the UCI guards its flagship series.

Joe Lindsey
by Joe Lindsey 19.04.2024 Photography by
Kristof Ramon
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The 2023-24 Cyclocross World Cup season was marked by an unusual amount of drama as the UCI criticized riders for skipping rounds and threatened to punish them for doing so. In announcing the schedule for the 2024-25 series, the organization is making good on the first round of changes designed to encourage more participation in its flagship series, but reactions are likely to be mixed.

Next season’s World Cup features 12 rounds, two fewer than last season, and the casualties are the races farthest afield, as the United States will not hold a World Cup round for the first time since 2014, when CrossVegas filled the role.

The snow race at Val di Sole, Italy, is also gone from the calendar, replaced with an all-new course in Oristano, Sardinia. Curiously, the announcement lists that round as “to be confirmed” which suggests that it is still in flux.

Sardinia, along with Dublin, Ireland; Besançon, France; and Hulst, the Netherlands, also get the UCI’s new designation of “protected event.” That status means that the UCI will refuse to sanction non-World Cup C1 or C2-level events the same weekend, and is designed to stop riders from electing to race other events instead of the World Cup.

There are several other calendar tweaks, such as a reduction in French rounds from two to one (with Besançon replacing Troyes and Flamanville), and date changes, such as Maasmechelen switching from the opening round of the European World Cup calendar in late October to the second to last event in late January as part of a double World Cup weekend with Hoogerheide before the World Championships the following weekend in Liévin, France.

The 2024-25 season is much more tightly compressed: last year, even European World Cup rounds were underway in October, but in the coming season the first round, in Antwerp, isn’t until late November. There are races every weekend through January 5.

The new calendar is also moderately more geographically condensed. Transcontinental travel is no longer a part of the equation with the loss of the Waterloo, Wisconsin round, and instead of two trips to France – including one out to Flamanville on the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy – there’s just one, although Besançon itself is still more than 500 km from central Belgium. There’s also a late-season trip to Spain.

The big question is the Sardinia round. Val di Sole was always a long drive for support staff in team vehicles, but it could be driven. To race the round in Sardinia requires a flight to Alghero on the north coast or Cagliari in the south and then a 100-150 km drive to Oristano. To make matters more interesting, the Oristano round is scheduled the week after Dublin, meaning that riders will start the season with flights and two of the longest and most logistically complicated trips they’ll make; as both are protected events, attendance is more than strongly suggested.

Even if individual riders are still free to skip rounds, teams are more constrained. The UCI will require all UCI-registered teams to send at least one rider – male or female – to at least five rounds, and top teams in the UCI Professional tier must send at least three to each round.

The protected rounds status for the races in Hulst and Besançon may also provoke grumbling among organizers of other series like SuperPrestige and X20. Those World Cup rounds effectively bookend the important “Kerstperiode” or holiday races, and with four World Cups packed into just nine days – and both weekends essentially blocked out for World Cups – that leaves precious little space for longstanding events like the night ‘cross at Diegem.

2024-25 UCI Cyclocross World Cup

Note: * denotes races with men’s U23 and men’s and women’s junior categories in addition to elites. Races in bold are protected rounds, with no other C1 or C2 events scheduled that weekend except for World Cups.

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