What you need to know for the Cyclocross World Championships 2021

Cycling Cyclocross

The climax of the Cyclocross season is almost upon us: The Cyclocross World Championships 2021.  In our house this is normally a highlight of the year, an opportunity to fill the house with cyclocross fans and have a huge race-fest party which we know as ‘The Worlds Crush’, where the real race is to get the best seat on the sofa in front of the race screen!  Obviously, this year that will not be happening!  However, we are so grateful that the Elite still get to race at all.

For those of you new to Cyclocross, the World Championships are possibly the best races of the season with the scramble to win the coveted World Champ rainbow jersey, ensuring a full-on flat-out race to the very end.  Here is some information about the main contenders and riders of note.

In the Elite men’s race:

Main contenders:

There are 2 main contenders that we expect to vie for the prize:  

  • Mathieu Van Der Poel – Netherlands (current World Champion 2015, 2019, 2020)
  • Wout Van Aert – Belgium (previous World Champion 2016, 2017, 2018). 

Both of these are in good form, both have beaten the other this season, both are capable of the win.  There is no love lost between them!  There is also hardly anything to choose between them, as we saw on the road earlier this year.  In the one day race, the Tour of Flanders, the pair went off the front and finished with a sprint to the line a tyre width apart; Van Der Poel taking the win.  Wout Van Aert, however, has definitely proved his worth in sprints this year taking 2 stage wins in the Tour de France.

However, there are several who will also contest the podium and could possibly take the win if the opportunity presents itself.  Indeed, whilst it seems obvious that the above are contending the win, the reality is that Tom Pidcock came 2nd last year (in the absence of Wout) and has proved himself more than a match. Arguably he ought to be in the main contenders list and no doubt will prove this by winning the title!

Also to watch:

  • Tom Pidcock – GB (U23 World Champion 2018, 2019, National Champion 2019, 2020).  He is the current U23 World Champion in MTB and E-MTB,  winner of the Giro Cyclistico Italia 2020 and has beaten both Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel this season.
  • Toon Aerts – Belgium (winner of the World Cup Series 2018-2019, 2019-2020)
  • Michael Vanthournout – Belgium (U23 World Champion 2015)


In the Elite women’s race:

Main contenders:

There are 3 main contenders that we expect to vie for the prize: 

  • Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado – Netherlands (current World Champion 2020)
  • Lucinda Brand – Netherlands (National Champion 2018, 2019)
  • Denise Betsema – Netherlands – has beaten both Ceylin and Lucinda this season.

So far this year, Lucinda Brand has been dominant, consistently taking the win in the World Cup Series, however, Ceylin and Denise have both beaten her so far this season.  Ceylin will be hungry for the win, still needing to prove herself this year following her domination last year.  Denise has been on the rise following her return from a recent ban, but there can be no doubting that she is a skilled rider capable of the win.

Also to watch:

  • Evie Richards– GB (U23 World Champion 2018, U23 National Champion 2016, 2017, 2018)

She was late to the Cyclocross season this year competing in MTB World Cup and then missed the Christmas races due to travel restrictions, so her form is a little uncertain.  However, she is a rider full of potential and what she lacks in recent CX race opportunities she’s sure to make up for with raw talent and competitiveness – never count her out!


U23 Races

The U23 races are much more open with a wider variety of riders in contention. 

In the U23 men:

  • Ryan Kamp – Netherlands (current U23 European Champion 2020, U23 World Champion 2020)
  • Thomas Mein – GB (2nd in the European Championships 2020)
  • Pim Ronhaar – Netherlands – (Junior National Champion 2018)

Ryan Kamp is the obvious favourite and is in good form at the moment, however, Thomas Mein has been improving steadily in the past couple of seasons and beat Ryan Kamp in the World Cup in Tabor this season.  Ben Turner (British) is one to keep an eye on, he is returning to form following a broken collar bone.

In the U23 women:

This is a particularly hotly contested category with several very strong youngsters arriving in the category this year.

  • Manon Bakker – Netherlands (Junior National Champion 2017)
  • Blanka Kata Vas – Hungary (U23 National Champion 2021, 2020)
  • Marion Norbert Riberolle – France (U23 World Champion 2020)

Blanka Kata Vas is a first year U23 and has proved strong enough to win several prestigious races this year, however, Manon Bakker is clearly in amazing form with a 2nd place in the Elite World Cup last week. 

Also to watch:

  • Anna Kay (GB) was 3rd last year in the U23 World Champs, with the right course she could do well. 
  • Puck Pieterse (Netherlands) the current European U23 Champion, another first year and could be strong, besides, she’s got a really cool name!

What you need to know about the course:

There’s a little bit of everything in this course: tarmac, grass, mud, sand and flyovers.  Look out for the world’s highest CX bridge and count how long it takes for the riders to climb it, it comes immediately off the start straight full-on sprint!  Then watch out for the amazing decent into soft sand and see the riders either snake around like mad or fly over the handle bars – there’s no knowing which it’ll be!! It’s sure to be lots of fun.  Remember, all riders will be in their national kit so it suddenly becomes hard to identify everyone unless you can remember their nationalities.

For more information, listen to The Crosscast podcast, for full discussion of all the latest thoughts on the World Championships. 

Have a go at making your own predictions if you’re already in the know…

Click here

What time are the races?

Saturday 30th January 

  • 12:30 - U23 Men 
  • 14:10 - Elite Women 

Sunday 31st January

  • 12:30 - U23 Women 
  • 14:10 - Elite Men 

How can I watch it?

In the UK, it will be televised on the following channels: BBC, Eurosport, GCN. 

Please note, the BBC are only showing the Elite races, for the U23 races on both Saturday and Sunday you need Eurosport or GCN.

BBC Coverage:

Saturday 30th January 

14:10 - Elite Women Live BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website & app

17:10 and 22:00 Elite Women Replay on Red Button

Sunday 31st January 

14:10 - Elite Men Live BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website & app, 

14:30 Elite Men LIve BBC Red Button

15:40 Elite Women Replay BBC Red Button

16:55 and 21:45 Elite Men Replay on Red Button

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