As we sit two weeks out from the 2022 cyclocross World Championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas, two stops on the UCI cyclocross World Cup series remain. The 2021/22 season was the first of the "expanded" World Cup calendar which dramatically increased the number of World Cup race days. Let's take a look at the two remaining races, Flamanville and Hoogerheide, and how we got here.
For 2021/22 the UCI scheduled a whopping 16 World Cups, to the dismay of some secondary races. With a World Cup almost every weekend under the expanded schedule, it was feared attendance at non-World Cup events would be affected, and riders could be spread too thin. One - Antwerp, Belgium, ended up being cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, but the other 15 went off, and then some Superprestige events were cancelled as well, including my favorite Diegem night race - which lightened the calendar slightly.
Flamanville, France World Cup round #15
For some elite riders that qualified to represent their country on the worlds team, Flamanville (the second-to-last World Cup round) may be their final tune-up before traveling to the United States. The Flamanville World Cup is Sunday, January 16, 2022. This course is on the ocean at the West side of the Cotentin peninsula, an area rich in World War Two history. The course is about 50 miles from the "D-Day" invasion beaches.
Riders electing to make Flamanville their last European race will enjoy more travel and rest time to adjust to jet lag, while riders who stay in Europe until after Hoogerheide will get a harder race-day workout, but will travel closer to World Championship weekend.
Because Flamanville is further away from home, some riders are skipping it outright. Riders contesting both Flamanville and Hoogerheide will actually have to travel some distance between the two (the horror!) as these events are more than 400 miles apart. Americans are used to road trips of that length for 'cross races, but for Euros, let the complaining begin.
Not attending are Denise Betsema, currently 2nd in the standings - which hands the overall title to Lucinda Brand (see below) and Zoe Backstedt (healthy, but isolating following positive COVID test), as well as Wout van Aert, who has ended his very successful 'cross season already. Marianne Vos and Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado are also MIA. Finally, fans looking for North American riders will note that Cannondale Cyclocrossworld riders Clara Honsinger and Curtis White are not on the start list either, preferring an early return to the USA to prepare for Worlds.
Hoogerheide, Netherlands World Cup round #16
Hoogerheide will be familiar to fans and riders, having served both as a World Cup location previously, as well as two prior World Championship events. It will also offer a preview next year's 2023 World Championships course, which may draw some riders who want to better understand the terrain. This year, it's Sunday, January 23, in its traditional spot immediately before Worlds.
Locals will have to use their imagination this year, as in-person spectators are banned, but it's worth watching on the live stream for no other reason than the monster 30+ step staircase, a signature feature of the Hoogerheide course.
Hoogerheide may be lightly attended by riders in 2022, which could offer some different pros a chance at the podium. So perhaps look to some talented riders who DIDN'T qualify for worlds to try and make their mark while others are absent.
2021/22 cyclocross World Cup winners
With both World Cup overall titles already decided in advance of Flamanville and Hoogerheide, riders in 2nd, 3rd, or 4th overall are under less pressure. Had the outcome been in doubt, contending riders may have needed to structure their calendars differently.
On the Elite Men's side, Eli Iserbyt has the overall title locked up, even though there are two races to go. His early season start (winning 5 of 8 World Cup races) was so strong, that his more recent fall-off won't matter.
For the Elite Women, Lucinda Brand has a narrower lead on Denise Betsema. Betsema winning the overall was mathematically possible, however, Betsema will skip Flamanville, handing the overall title to Brand.
Frankly, the U23 Men, Junior Men, and Junior Women categories - which are tracked separately for World Cup purposes, are a bit of a mess this year. Only 4 events will count toward the series. With Flamanville the only scoring race left, Mees Hendrikx, Pim Ronhaar, and Cameron Mason all still have a chance at a U23 World Cup overall title. David Haverdings has already locked up Junior Men. Zoe Backstedt had a commanding lead, but since she won't race Flamanville, the door is open for someone to pass her on the final day, depending on who attends.
For viewers in the USA, the Flamanville and Hoogerheide cyclocross World Cups are both available on the FloBikes subscription streaming service.