Hi everyone, hope you're having a great "Kerstperiode". I just got done watching the Zolder Superprestige (spoiler: Wout won again, keeping his "perfect season" intact) which reminded me that one of my favorite races, Diegem, should be coming up.
Unfortunately Diegem was cancelled with just a week prior due to increasing COVID-19 cases in Belgium, so there won't be any mid-week streaming action this year. Had the race gone off, it would have been one of the hyped "big 3" battles. Instead, I thought I'd share some highlights with my favorite moments, and background on what makes the Diegem race so special:
#1 It's at night
Unlike the vast majority of European 'cross races, Diegem takes place at night, under the floodlights. It's actually part of what inspired Brook Watts to create the CrossVegas nighttime race in Las Vegas! It's cold, it's dark, and incredibly TV friendly as a result.
#2 It's in an amazing, town center venue
Part of the reason Diegem was cancelled this year was the location in a town center. The course rips around "downtown" and right through the community. Imagine peeking over your backyard fence and watching the world's fastest racers rocket past while the beer and music flows!
While some races in 2021/22 are moving forward with no spectators, in Diegem it's impossible to separate the people from the town, thus, the cancellation.
#3 Primetime for USA viewers
In the USA, we don't often have the opportunity to watch live cyclocross in prime time. With the vast majority of races in Belgium and the Netherlands, Americans have to wake up VERY early to watch live.
Diegem offers a refreshing change - since it happens at night in Europe, we get to watch from the USA during normal waking hours.
#4 It happens when many people are on vacation
Diegem is typically held in the week between Christmas and New Years, while many people are already away from work, and spirits are high. Another holiday party, this time with cyclocross? Yes please.
Some of my favorite highlights and prior year races from Diegem
Before the 2020 and 2021 editions were cancelled, Mathieu van der Poel has won a whopping SIX years in a row. Keep in mind he's still only 26...
Here's a full replay of the 2019 edition, the last year the Diegem race was held:
Some on-bike camera work from Rebecca Gross during the 2018 edition, showing you what the course looks like from rider POV:
2016 highlights with a battle between Marianne Vos and Sanne Cant