Sven Nys talks about the imbalance that Van der Poel, Van Aert and Pidcock are creating in cyclo-cross
The appearance fees of the three current dominators of cyclo-cross, who account for a large part of the budgets of many of the events on the calendar, are creating major imbalances in the sport. Many top riders are forced to ride for free, and without the source of income from the regular riders, there is a risk that many will choose to reduce their expenses by avoiding trips outside Belgium.
"Cyclo-cross can't exist with just three riders" warns Sven Nys
Cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys, currently manager of the Baloise Trek Lions team which includes riders such as Shirin Van Anrooij, Lucinda Brand and Lars Van der Haar as well as his son Thibau Nys, did not hold his tongue when talking about the current situation of cyclo-cross in a statement to Cycling Weekly.
Nys spoke about the dominance of Mathieu Van der Poel, Wout Van Aert and Tom Pidcock which, beyond the sporting aspect, in which they eclipse the specialists in the category, has generated an important imbalance in the resources that the events allocate to the cyclists.
In addition to sponsorship and prize money, the top cyclists rely on the organisation to pay for travel and accommodation, which is particularly important in a sport that is so localised in Belgium and the Netherlands when travelling to venues such as Dublin, Benidorm or the more distant races in the United States.
Nys warned that many riders have been forced to race for free because of the budget requirements for organisers to take on the big three. "Cyclo-cross cannot exist with just three riders," he said bluntly, pointing out that if a balance is not struck, there is a risk that many riders will drop out of races that involve higher costs.
On the other hand, there is the point of view of the organisers, who see how the attention on the races multiplies when Pidcock, Van Aert and Van der Poel are part of the starting grid, a good proof is the World Cup race held a few weeks ago in Benidorm, which sold all the tickets in its first edition.
“The World Cup starts in October, we need to think about those riders that start those races then and not only about the big guys who join in December,” said Nys, while proposing a dialogue between organisers, UCI, riders and teams to try to find a balance in budgets that at least allows riders to cover aspects such as travel costs.
The budget of a Cyclocross World Cup race exceeds €150,000, of which about €50,000 goes to cover the fixed starting fees. In information that appeared throughout the season it was stated that Wout Van Aert, the highest paid rider on the circuit, would earn between 15,000 and 20,000 € for his presence in the race, followed by Van der Poel who would receive around 15,000 € and Pidcock who would receive around 8,000 €, i.e., the three of them practically take up the entire budget for riders in the races. Obviously, their quality and the spectacle they provide well justifies the outlay but, as Nys points out, the races could not be run with just the three of them.