Sunday, December 20th is a special day for cyclocross with the 2nd round of the World Cup from Namur, Belgium. Namur kicks off the "Kerstperiode" holiday racing season and is just the start of an action-packed two weeks of cyclocross racing.
As the capital of Wallonia, Namur is french-speaking and is more than 1,000 years old, having been damaged in WWI, WWII, and in many battles and sieges prior; so the course is surrounded in rich history.
The course in Namur winds around the citadel (fortified city center) and features challenging cobblestones and hills that test elite riders, even when dry.
Bad weather makes Namur even more challenging, and the forecast shows a possible repeat of 2019, with rain coming the day before the race and on race day. In the 2019 edition, freezing rain pushed athletes to the limit. American Katie Clouse suffered a dislocated shoulder on a challenging descent, Toon Aerts broke a rib after crashing while contesting the win, and in one of crazier moments caught on video, Eli Iserbyt suffered hypothermia and was unable to leave the course under his own power, instead being lifted over the course tape by his team to a DNF.
Athletes at Namur can expect to be challenged by the course, by mother nature, and by their competitors. Speaking of competitors...
Namur is the the first 2020 cyclocross race to feature all the heavy hitters - Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock, Toon Aerts, Eli Iserbyt, and more all on the same starting line at the same event. Van der Poel (2019 World Champion), Pidcock (2019 World's silver medalist), van Aert (2016, 17, 18 cyclocross World Champion) all delayed the start of their cyclocross season due to heavy road cycling schedules, but at Namur, the best will all be together.
Namur marks the start of the Kerstperiode, Belgium's special time when races are packed into the holiday weeks, especially around Christmas and New Year's Day. Read my Kerstperiode cyclocross update and preview if you aren't up to speed on Kerstperiode. Starting with Namur, there are 11 races, including 3 World Cups, between Dec. 20 and Jan 3, 2021, so you can stream pro cyclocross almost every day during Kerstperiode.
The FloBikes (part of FloSports) subscription streaming service recently signed a 4 year deal to stream every cyclocross World Cup, plus the World Championships, to fans in the USA. This includes Sunday's Namur event. This service replaces NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, which continues to offer a subscription package, but no longer includes the cyclocross World Cups or World Championships.
The FloBikes service costs $150 annually and in addition to cyclocross, also has streaming rights to the road events like Paris-Roubaix and the Giro d'Italia that may interest 'cross fans.
I've got an interview coming up with Ian Dille from FloBikes and we'll be exploring the service in detail - look for my detailed write-up soon with an overview of what to expect from FloBikes as the 2021 calendar shapes up.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the Namur World Cup!