2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships Final Day Preview
Junior Men, 11:00 am Start
The Junior men will kick off the third and final day of racing and the fourth of six contested World Championships, Sunday, January 30, at 11:00 am. The Junior races usually provide a glimpse of up and comers within the sport as past champions have gone on to Elite level podium places and even on to Tour de France-type stardom. Juniors have to be born in 2004 or after. This year’s men’s Junior field may be the deepest and most unaffected by COVID and features 34 athletes from 15 countries.
Riders to watch: No. 1 seeded David Haverdings of the Netherlands and No. 2 seeded Louka Lesueur of France, Corentin Lequet of France, Nathan Smith of Great Britain, Kenay De Moyer, Viktor Vandenberghe, Yordi Corsus, and Aaron Dockx, all of Belgium, Luca Paletti of Italy, Jan Christen of Switzerland, Vaclav Jezek of Czech Republic, and Americans Frank O’Reilly of Pearl River, N.Y., A.J. August of Pittsford, N.Y., and Jack Spranger of Sammamish, Wash.
Under 23 Women, 1:00 pm Start
The Under 23 women’s competition is usually a preview to the rising stars of the cycling world, and not always sequestered to the cyclo-cross discipline. The COVID pandemic has curbed several athletes across all age categories. For this race, there are 23 athletes from 12 countries, with the home country of the United States maximizing their spots with a total of seven athletes. Among the favorites are Fem Van Empel, Shirin Van Anrooij, and Puck Pieterse of The Netherlands, Line Burquier and Amandine Fouquenet of France, Kelly Lawson of Canada, Kristyna Zemanova of the Czech Republic and Americans Madigan Munro of Boulder, Colo., and Katie Clouse of Park City, Utah.
Elite Men, 2:30 pm Start
The men’s Elite competition has been whittled to 36 athletes from 14 countries following injuries or COVID restrictions from some of the pre-race favorites that included: Wout van Aert and Quinten Hermans of Belgium and Remco Evenepoel of the Netherlands, leaving 2020 Tokyo Mountain Bike gold medalist Thomas Pidcock as the prohibitive favorite. Lurking in the shadows are 2021-22 World Cup winner Eli Iserbyt of Belgium, who won the U.S. World Cup races in Waterloo, Wisc., and Iowa City, Ia. The Belgian squad, as always, fields the strongest team and includes other threats Toon Aerts, Laurens Sweeck, Daan Soete, and Michael Vanthourenhout, who was third at the World Cup in Fayetteville last October. The Netherlands’ Corne Van Kessel and Lars Van Der Haar, who were second to Iserbyt in last week’s World Cup finale, are in top form. Curtis White of Beverly, Mass., is the top UCI-ranked rider for the United States. U.S. National Champion Eric Brunner of Boulder, Colo., and Gage Hecht of Parker, Colo., are among the Americans expected to vie for a top 15 finish.
Key course features include “Stonehenge” (a serpentine track around an elevated stone structure); “The 39 Climb” (39 stairs where rider dismount and run up); “Electric Avenue” (a hill climb up an electric power line coming out of a forest); “The Drop” (a 30 percent drop off 39 stairs); and a snaking descent through a forest which will be anything but enchanting with an ensuing climb.
In 2021, Fayetteville was anointed as the first UCI Bike City in the United States. Fayetteville is only the second American city to host the UCI World Championships for cyclo-cross, following a successful event in Louisville, Ky. in 2013. General admission tickets remain but VIP Hospitality is SOLD OUT. The exhibition area on the grounds has a festival atmosphere with more than 30 vendors and food trucks set up adjacent to the course.
Sunday Race Schedule
- 9:00 am, Gates Open
- 11:00 am, Junior Men
- 1:00 pm, U23 Women
- 2:30 pm, Elite Men
- 5:00 pm, Gates Close