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Fem van Empel won't be at this weekend's World Cup round in Troyes, choosing to enjoy a period of rest instead
UCI follows through with plans to monitor cyclo-cross riders' participation at World Cups
Governing body announces that it will 'initiate reflection on the participation of athletes in the rounds of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup'
The uproar that began when Thibau Nys (Baloise Trek Lions) decided to skip last week's CX World Cup round in Dendermonde continues to ripple through the cyclo-cross scene, with the UCI formally getting involved after previously threatening to take action.
In the face of selective participation in World Cup rounds by riders, the UCI has announced that they will "initiate reflection on the participation of athletes in the rounds of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and other events on the discipline’s UCI International Calendar in order to guarantee the coherence of its major events."
"Indeed," the UCI continued, "it is essential for the UCI to ensure a balance between the various major cyclo-cross events and the participation of athletes in these competitions."
The decision was announced in a press release distributed on Friday morning and follows a week in which a dispute between the sport's governing body and its riders has become public.
David Lappartient, President of the UCI, was scathing of Nys when speaking to DirectVélo last weekend, insisting that participation in World Cup rounds should be mandatory and not up to the rider's themselves. His feelings are that all riders who want to eventually ride the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships should be attending all of the World Cup rounds.
His interview followed similar comments given by UCI CEO Peter Van den Abeele to Wielerflits, but at the present moment, the UCI has no such mandatory participation regulation.
Nys is, of course, not the only rider to be selective when he races at the CX World Cup rounds. Reigning world champion Fem van Empel (Jumbo-Visma) is missing this weekend's round in Troyes, for example, whilst the likes of Shirin van Anrooij and Lucinda Brand (both Baloise Trek Lions) have each enjoyed their periods of rest already this season.
Read more: Preview: UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup Troyes
This is not all that surprising given both the extension of the CX World Cup series in recent years and the workload that many of the riders take on as multidisciplinary athletes. Indeed, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) are each yet to start their 'cross campaigns following a busy road season.
An explanation of what the 'reflection of participation' may glean has not been offered by the UCI as of yet, but it appears as though this is a step to formalise discussions on mandatory participation in the future. Thus far, the reaction from riders has been of both caution and optimism.
As a full-time 'cross rider who consistently races each World Cup round and looks to perform well in the overall standings, Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) has responded positively to the idea of monitoring the participation of riders.
Taking to X (formerly Twitter), the Belgian wrote: "We are looking forward to having a dialogue with all parties involved. For a better future for cyclocross and the riders."
Jens Dekker on the other hand - who is making his competitive return to cyclo-cross this winter - was slightly more cautious in his appraisal of the news.
"I'm worried that the UCI will initiate a discussion amongst themselves instead of a wider discussion involving the stakeholders of this sport. Let's hope for the best," the Dutchman wrote on X.
For the time being, participation in the World Cups remains non-mandatory and the return of the likes of Van Anrooij and Van Aert to the mud is awaited. But there will no doubt be more news to come on this front as the UCI sits down to discuss their reflections.
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