by Jeff Lockwood
March 5, 2014
It seems as cyclocross gets more popular, conversations about it becoming a Winter Olympic sport increase.
For years, people from all corners of cycling have been calling for the International Olympic Committee to consider bringing this beloved two-wheeled racing to the Winter Games. Such chatter increased last year when the UCI Cyclocross World Championships were held in the United States, outside of Europe for the first time.
Belgian newspaper Gazet Van Antwerpen broke news in January (read the Dutch version here) that the UCI and IOC actually came together recently to discuss such a possibility. The main sticking point seems to be the IOC law that essentially states Winter Games sports, “must be practiced on snow or ice.” As the GVA article points out, that would have to be broadened to define a winter sport as something that, “should be practiced during the winter months only.”
The president of the UCI himself, Brian Cookson, fanned the Cyclocross Winter Olympic flame when he piped up less than a week after Zdeněk Štybar won the 2014 UCI Cyclocross World Championship back in February. Among other things, Cookson’s statement points out that, “Cyclo-Cross would offer equal medal opportunities for men and women, the infrastructure and related costs required to install a circuit are minimal, and the principle is clear-cut: first across the line is the winner.”
Cyclists and cycling fans around the world are getting excited. A British Cycling spokesperson told us, “Cyclo-cross would undoubtedly be a valuable addition to the Winter Olympics programme.”
He went on to say, “It is a sport with huge global following and is notorious for having hugely passionate fans who make every major race a spectacular event. It is also an extremely tough and challenging sport and would not be out of place on the Winter Olympics schedule.”
There’s still a long way to go to make such an event a reality, but IOC president Thomas Bach has indicated he intends to make some fundamental changes with Olympic laws. Perhaps we’ll see the likes of Helen Wyman, Sven Nys and others with Olympic medals around their necks in 2016.