Photos courtesy of the BP Media, Sporza, Sport Ireland website….with thanks, interviews courtesy of Sporza TV and translated below
One of the key figures in the awarding of the Cyclocross World Cup to Ireland is Dr. Una May. She has been CEO of Sport Ireland since the beginning of this year, before which May has been committed to local sports development in the country and anti-doping policy for many years. “When Flanders Classics asked if there was interest in working together on the development of cyclocross in Ireland, we were very enthusiastic,” says May. “The national sports campus is a suitable location. We have 500 acres of grounds with all kinds of facilities from the various federations.”
We are a small country, but every weekend we see 600 participants in different cyclocross races.
Will there already be a cyclocross culture in Ireland in 2022? “Clearly not yet like in Belgium”, Una May admits. “But there is a lot of enthusiasm. Within our national sports policy, swimming, athletics and cycling are the 3 most important sports. So cycling is very important in Ireland.”
“Within cycling, we also see the importance of the off-road cycling disciplines. We mainly note major difficulties in organizing events. Certainly for the safety of the young participants on the public road.” The world cup cross must therefore become exemplary for the future.
“Cyclocross is the fastest growing cycling discipline for us. We are a small country, but every weekend we see 600 participants in different cyclocross races,” says May. “It is very popular. We have competitions from children on balance bikes to masters and veterans.”
Dublin will host the first round of the UCI Cyclocross World Cup ever on Irish soil on Sunday. “It has rained a lot in recent weeks, which makes the course extremely difficult. The men with power in their legs will be able to make the difference,” says organiser Chris Mannaerts.
In Overijse the riders already had to slog in the mud, but in Dublin the course is even more greasy. “There will be many more mud patches than we have seen this year,” says organizer Chris Mannaerts.
“The subsoil is comparable to Overijse, a soggy loamy soil. Only the
slope is less difficult. So it will be a lighter course than Overijse, Gavere or Namur.”
“You can perhaps best compare the course to Waterloo, especially in wet conditions.” “But at the end of the ride, the riders and the weather determine how tough the cross will be. They already give cold temperatures just above freezing.”
“With the men there will be no measure against Van Aert”
Mathieu van der Poel is not present. He is in sunny Spain on a training camp with Alpecin-Deceuninck.
“In the women’s race I would have liked to see Lucinda Brand drive, but she will not be present. I am curious where Puck Pieterse or Fem van Empel will make the difference on those power pieces.” “It’s already less predictable.”
“3.2 kilometer course divided into 2 large parts”
What does the track look like? “The start and finish zone are on a beautifully landscaped piece of land that is flat. You can perfectly build a golf course there,” says Mannaerts.
“Then the riders go through the material station quite quickly. From there, the riders enter a typical Irish rolling landscape at the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown, where the European cross country championships were organised in 2021.”
“The second part of the course goes through the National Horse Arena, where the national horse riding federation is located. Here the riders get a 50-meter sandbox pushed in front of their wheels,” he continues. Then we go to two hills between which are the official training grounds of National Rugby and National Hockey, where you will see more technique with short dynamic work.” “From there we go back to the start where there are mainly mud strips, which will make it extremely difficult”, concludes Mannaerts.
Mud fest at the World Cup in Dublin: “Much more mud lanes than we’ve already seen this year”