Until now, the 2010 Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, the Czech Republic, held the record for the highest number of participants. That record, of 229 athletes competing across the four categories, will be equalled this weekend in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands.
When the small Dutch town was awarded the 2014 Cyclo-cross World Championships, organiser Jan Prop said: “We want it to be bigger and better than in 2009.” Mission accomplished. For when Hoogerheide hosted the Worlds five years ago, 214 athletes lined up at the start over the two days of competition.
Alongside the traditionally strong European countries, this year’s field includes a more than healthy participation from all over the world. Macedonia and Serbia, both new to the Cyclo-cross World Championships, each has a rider racing in the Junior Men category on Saturday morning. Also of note among the 23 participating countries is Australia, in all categories, and New Zealand with two Elite Men riders including the popular moustached Alex Revell. Japan is well represented with seven athletes, and the United States, one year after hosting the first World Championships ever to be held outside Europe, has arrived in the Netherlands with a full contingent of 22.
There is a positive trend in the women’s field, which sees 45 athletes from 14 nations taking part, compared to 38 riders from 12 countries the last time the Worlds were held in Hoogerheide.
The increase in Junior Men riders is even more remarkable: 59 riders from 19 nations compared with 51 athletes from 15 nations in 2009.
The Junior Men and Elite Women will race on Saturday, followed by the Men Under-23 and Elite Men on Sunday.
Photo: The number of athletes competing this weekend in Hoogerheide will equal the record established in Tabor (CZE) in 2010.