This page contains start times, weekend schedule, and results from the 2022 cyclocross World Championships (spoilers below!) and will be updated throughout race weekend. I've also included my predictions for each race so we can check them against the actual results as well when the events conclude:
All times listed are in Central Standard Time (Arkansas, USA) in the order in which they start from Fayetteville. Full UCI start lists can be found here (PDF)
Junior Women - Saturday Jan 29, 2022 - 11am
In the Junior Women's category, pre-race favorite Backstedt showed why she was dominant this year, powering away from the field on the first lap and establishing a lead she'd keep to the finish:
- Zoe Backstedt (UK)
- Leonie Bentveld (Netherlands)
- Lauren Molengraaf (Netherlands)
Zoe Backstedt, if able to start, is the class of the field, and my pick. She may be hampered by a recent bout of COVID-19, for which she had to isolate and likely lost some training days. This also forced her to miss her national championship, and she was 4 minutes off Lucinda Brand at Hamme as she tries to get back to racing... Despite those setbacks, she's still the favorite - that's how good she's been.
Katherine Sarkisov is the USA national champion in this category and could factor, she has a 2nd on a Euro podium this season and has shown she's capable of performing in this group. Home field advantage?
U23 Men - Saturday Jan 29, 2022 - 1pm
Raise your hand if you had Joran Wyseure in the office pool. No takers? He beat the long odds to take the world title, while Thibau Nys (3rd) continues to impress. Still just 19, he overcame a broken collarbone, surgery, and a recent dislocation of the same injury to make it to the podium.
- Joran Wyseure (Belgium)
- Emiel Verstrynge (Belgium)
- Thibau Nys (Belgium)
Unlike the U23 Women, the U23 Men field ISN'T filled with emerging superstars who are already capable of winning the Elite races. Of the U23's, Pim Ronhaar had the best result on the Fayetteville course earlier this year, and Emiel Verstrynge was good as well. Ryan Kamp was second to Verstrynge at the late-season Flamanville, France World Cup in a close battle; and Mees Hendrikx came 6th in the Elite field at Hoogerheide. I'm looking for the World Championship winner to come from this list. My pick: Hendrikx.
Other riders to watch: Cameron Mason, and American Scott Funston back on home soil, fresh off a European campaign, and a season that included a USA national U23 title and Pan-Am U23 title will be trying for some TV time.
Elite Women - Saturday Jan 29, 2022 - 2:30pm
It's not often you see riders almost come to a complete, trackstand-style dead stop on the final lap, but things got tactical between Lucinda Brand and Marianne Vos as neither wanted the front in advance of a final sprint. Brand led it out, Vos came around, and took her 8th cyclocross world title. GOAT.
Outperformer of the day? Silva Persico didn't stand on a Dutch or Belgian 'cross podium all year, but she found something extra to take Bronze on the most important day of the year:
- Marianne Vos (Netherlands)
- Lucinda Brand (Netherlands)
- Silvia Persico (Italy)
Defending champ Lucinda Brand was in control at the X²0 Badkamers Trofee from Hamme and given the season she's had thus far, it feels hard to bet against her - especially given that she already won the Fayetteville World Cup last Fall, which offered a preview of the same course which will be used for the World Championship.
Her top competitor is Marianne Vos, (my pick to win) and owner of a whopping 7 previous world titles. Vos topped Brand at the recent Dutch national championship and looked good doing so, then did the same at the Hoogerheide World Cup in the final race weekend before Worlds, with a blistering attack no one, including Brand, could match. She hasn't raced as much this year, but has looked good when she's taken the start.
Other riders with a podium chance? American Clara Honsinger; Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado is another rider who seems to be returning to form following a slow/late start to the season, before a bust at Hoogerheide. Blanka Kata Vas (age 20) is also in the Elite field, electing to skip the U23 event and has a legit shot at a medal too.
Who's out? Annemarie Worst and Denise Betsema both found to be COVID positive in Europe, just prior to flying to the United States. Neither traveled and both will not start, despite appearing on the official start lists.
For Americans like Honsinger, it's harder to judge their recent form, since they returned from Europe earlier than competitors and haven't raced recently. Honsinger did finish 3rd, just 0:16 seconds back of Brand at the Fayetteville World Cup, so has a history of prior top performances at this venue.
The weather may work against her, however. Honsinger has delivered on some hard, muddy courses with long climbs, where she can use her diesel power with steady efforts in the later laps. This time, Fayetteville is dry, with no rain or snow on the forecast, which could change the racing style.
So you're saying there's a chance? Maghalie Rochette is another rider who looked good at this venue previously with an outside shot at a podium.
Junior Men - Sunday, January 30, 2022 - 11am
Things don't always go the way they look on paper... that's why they run the races. Favorite Haverdings crashed, dropping his chain, and was forced to change bikes. Christen, the Swiss national champion, won a 3-up sprint for the title.
- Jan Christen (Switzerland)
- Aaron Dockx (Belgium)
- Nathan Smith (Great Britain)
Junior categories are harder to predict because there's less consistent head-to-head competition, and depending on the event, fields are often mixed with other categories. COVID-19 has caused cancellations this season of events that would otherwise showcase upcoming juniors.
The Belgian and Dutch teams for Fayetteville consist of Yordi Corsus, Kenay de Moyer, Aaron Dockx, Wies Nuyens, Ferre Urkens, Viktor Vandenberghe, and David Haverdings.
My pick: Haverdings, with 16 wins already this year, looks to be the class of the group.
U23 Women - Sunday, January 30, 2022 - 1pm
Predicting the U23 Women's podium was easy... the only thing really in doubt was the likely finish order of the 3 favorites. Pieterse finally got her elusive win (AFAIK her only win at all this entire season), out sprinting Van Anrooij to the line.
- Puck Pieterse (Netherlands)
- Shirin Van Anrooij (Netherlands)
- Fem Van Empel (Netherlands)
Some of the fastest women participating in the world championship won't even be in the Elite field, because they are still under 23! Your winner is very likely to come from the group of Shirin van Anrooij, Puck Pieterse, and Fem van Empel. Any of these riders is good enough to win the Elite Women's race on the right day, let alone the U23. At the Hoogerheide World Cup, all THREE of these riders finished in the top 10 of the Elite Women's field, each ahead of Alvarado and Betsema, themselves favorites for the Elite race!
Notably, van Anrooij looked good at the X²0 Badkamers Trofee from Hamme, dueling Denise Betsema for the second podium spot. Pieterse and van Empel dueled to a sprint finish at Flamanville, showing they were very closely matched.
Not here? Blanka Kata Vas (20) will tackle the Elite race, even though she's young enough to be in U23 for several more years.
My pick? Puck Pieterse, who had the best result at the Fayetteville venue earlier this season, and finished 3rd behind Vos and Brand at Hoogerheide.
Elite Men - Sunday, January 30, 2022 - 2:30pm
van der Haar was my sentimental favorite and showed his form - once Pidcock was away, van der Haar rode lap times that were almost identical to the eventual winner while dragging Iserbyt around the course. Pidcock was able to attack and separate early, however, which ultimately proved to be the difference, as he held the gap to the finish line to capture the world title.
- Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain)
- Lars van der Haar (Netherlands)
- Eli Iserbyt (Belgium)
The shortlist is two riders: Eli Iserbyt and Tom Pidcock according to the oddsmakers. Iserbyt just CRUSHED the early 2021/22 season, disappeared for a while while Wout Van Aert dominated, and has now returned to the front with a recent win and a couple podiums. Pidcock didn't make the early-season USA trip for 3 World Cups, so he didn't get the Fayetteville preview others enjoyed. He looked strong at Hamme, bridging up to the leader mid-race, and then attacking at the climax, but crashed and then shut it down for the day. The next day at Hoogerheide, Iserbyt won with a thrilling last lap in which van der Haar, Pidcock, and Vanthourenhout all finished within 5 seconds of one another.
Quinten Hermans, who won the Fayetteville World Cup earlier this year, is COVID-19 positive and cannot travel to the USA for the World Championship. Shame as he was a contender.
Who else? Toon Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout, Lars van der Haar. Anything is possible, but it's hard to imagine the winner coming from outside the group of 5 riders listed here. Of that list, Toon Aerts and Lars van der Haar both suffered hard crashes at the Hoogerheide World Cup, which could impact their performance at Worlds. Both got going again but we'll see if they have lingering issues.
Notably, I don't have Laurens Sweeck on my list, despite his recent win at Hamme. Too many external factors contributed to his win - a key crash by Pidcock, and riders conserving their effort in light of a World Cup the next day, then air travel to the USA, then Worlds all in the next 7 days. Prove me wrong, Laurens!
Notably, neither Wout van Aert (schedule conflict) nor Mathieu van der Poel (injured) will race. The last guys NOT named van Aert or van der Poel to win the World title were Albert, Nys, and Štybar - so it's been a while! We'll have a new rainbow jersey wearer no matter what.
My picks: Sentimental favorite? Lars van der Haar. Reality check? Pidcock.
Who are your picks? Let me know using @RideCX on social media.