Saturday, January 29, Preview
Fayetteville was anointed as the first “UCI Bike City”…Fayetteville is only the second American city to host the UCI World Championships for cyclo-cross following a successful event in Louisville, Ky. In 2013…general admission tickets remain for both session but VIP Hospitality is SOLD OUT…festival with more than 30 vendors and food trucks is adjacent to the course.
Junior Women, 11 am Start
The Junior Women will kick off the first of six contested World Championships, Saturday, January 29, at 11 am. The Junior races usually provide a glimpse of up and comers within the sport as past champions have gone on to Elite level podium places and even on to Tour de France-type stardom. Juniors have to be born in 2004 or after. This year’s women’s Junior field features 24 athletes from nine countries. The field features American Junior national champion Katherine Sarkisov, who has aspirations of a top 5 finish. The event will also feature Leonie Bentveld and Lauren Molengraaf of the Netherlands, Ava Holmgrenof Canada, Fleur Moors of Belgium, Zoe Backstedt of Great Britain, Lilou Fabregue of France and Eliska Hanakova of Czech Republic.
Under 23 Men, 12:30 pm Start
The Under 23 Men’s competition is usually a preview to the rising sports of the cycling world, and not always sequestered to the cyclo-cross discipline. The COVID pandemic has curbed several athletes across all age categories. For this race, 41 athletes will be featured from 15 countries, with Belgium and United States maximizing their spots with six athletes each. Among the favorites: Pim Ronhaar and Ryan Kamp of the Netherlands, Emiel Verstrynge, Niels Vandeputte, and Jorden Wyseure and Thibau Nysof Belgium. Nys is the son of legendary cyclo-cross racer Sven Nys, a two-time world champion and seven-time World Cup winner. Among others to watch: Cameron Mason of Great Britain, Theo Thomas of France, Davide Toneatti and Samuele Leone of Italy, Gustav Dahl of Denmark, Gonzalo Macho of Spain, Pascal Toemke of Germany, and Americans Scott Funston and Andrew Strohmeyer.
Elite Women, 2:30 pm Start
The women’s Elite field will be missing several of its top stars like Denise Betsema and Anniemarie Worst due to COVID but still may be this weekend’s deepest field and features headliners Lucinda Brand, the 2021 World Champion, and six-time world champion Marianne Vos, both of The Netherlands. Brand most recently won this season’s overall World Cup, which included six wins in 15 races, including the World Cup in Fayetteville on a rain-soaked course this past October.
Among the other top riders to watch: The Netherlands’ Inge Van Der Heijden, Belgian veteran Senne Cant, Maghalie Rochette and Sidney McGill of Canada, Silvia Persico of Italy, rising star Kata Blanka Vas of Hungary, who placed 4th overall in the Tokyo Games mountain bike race, and Clara Honsinger, current U.S. champion, and Raylyn Nuss of the United States.
“I’m really excited to be racing this course and did well on it last October during the World Cup here,” said Honsinger, who placed 3rd in a muddy, rainy and cold World Cup in October. “I’d prefer mud on Saturday and going into this weekend I had so many questions. Would it be dry? Would there be puddles of water? It’s a fast course when dry and can slow especially with the freeze and thaw here and what the course can look like.”
Honsinger noted the backside of the course through the forest has made for some big modifications on the approach on taking lines downhill, especially in the start of the race when the group is jockeying for position. And the climb called “Electric Avenue” on a power line grid going up to the top of Centennial Park is still long especially with rollers at the top.
As for Honsinger’s goals, the top-ranked American in the field said: “Podium? There are two steps higher than that. The ultimate goal is to walk away with a new jersey.”
Key course features include “Stonehenge” (a serpentine track around an elevated stone structure); “The 39 Climb” (39 stairs where rider dismount and run up); “Electric Avenue” (a hill climb up an electric power line coming out of a forest); “The Drop” (a 30 percent drop off 39 stairs); and a snaking descent through a forest which will be anything but enchanting with an ensuing climb.
Weekend Race Schedule
Saturday, January 29
- 9:00 am, Gates Open
- 11:00 am, Junior Women
- 1:00 pm, U23 Men
- 2:30 pm Elite Women
- 5:00 pm, Gates Closes
Sunday, January 30
- 9:00 am, Gates Open
- 11:00 am, Junior Men
- 1:00 pm, U23 Women
- 2:30 pm Elite Men
- 5:00 pm, Gates Closes