Everything you need to know before one of the best cycling weekends of the year, including how to watch
The 2023-24 cyclocross season is coming to a close and it’s time for the big show. Cyclocross World Championships will take place from Friday, Feb. 2, through Sunday, Feb. 4 in Tabor, and Trek athletes will be abundant in every event, from juniors all the way up to elites.
At the highest level, several Baloise-Trek riders will have their sights set on rainbows. In the U23 and junior ranks, young talent will be getting their first taste of racing on the biggest stage in the world, especially from American development squads like CXHairs Devo and the Bear National Team.
The atmosphere in Tabor will be electric, and the course could be ripping fast. So let’s dispense with the preamble and get right to business, because we have a lot to cover.
What's the course like and how can I watch?
There’s only one place to start a ‘cross preview: The weather. The forecast calls for sunny conditions all week until Friday, when clouds set in. Light rain is forecasted Saturday, and currently not projected to extend into Sunday. High temperatures will be in the mid-50s throughout the weekend. Don’t expect a mudfest as of now, but as always in this sport, don’t expect predictable conditions, either.
Tabor doesn’t feature many different surfaces, notable climbs, or obscene features. What it does have is twists and turns. If you love right angles, you’ll love the loop in Tabor. One particular section of note: With 700 meters to go in the three-kilometer course, riders will have to navigate three back-to-back-to-back 180-degree turns. The rainbow stripes will be decided by mad scramble finishes.
If you live in North America, you can watch the races via FloBikes. If you live in Europe, Eurosport/Discovery+ likely has you covered, but here’s a helpful article for more information. Here’s the schedule of events for the weekend:
Friday, Feb. 2
- Team relay – 12:35 p.m. local / 6:35 a.m. ET
Saturday, Feb. 3
- Women’s juniors – 11:05 local / 5:05 a.m. ET
- Men’s U23s – 12:35 p.m. local / 6:35 a.m. ET
- Women’s elites – 2:35 p.m. local / 8:35 a.m. ET
Sunday, Feb. 4
- Men’s juniors – 11:05 a.m. local / 5:05 a.m. ET
- Women’s U23s – 12:35 p.m. local / 6:35 a.m. ET
- Men’s elites – 2:35 p.m. local / 8:35 a.m. ET
Are the Baloise-Trek Lions elites going to continue their dream season?
The 2023-24 season has been one of the best ever for the Baloise-Trek Lions. The numbers are impressive: 24 total victories, seven of them at elite World Cup events spread across five different riders. That includes two Dutch national titles (and a clean sweep of the Dutch men’s podium), and seven podiums with at least two Lions on the steps.
Thibau Nys, Lucinda Brand, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Pim Ronhaar and Lars van der Haar all have good reason to believe they can take the rainbow stripes if things break their way. Yes, it’ll be a daunting task. Mathieu van der Poel and Fem van Empel are the favorites in the men’s and women’s elite races, respectively, for good reason, and that’s not to mention a litany of other worthy riders. But the Lions have experience and strength in numbers on their side.
Brand won a World title just three seasons ago, and has been a podium machine over the last three months. Nys, Nieuwenhuis, Ronhaar and Van der Haar are all former U23 World Champions with complementary strengths who have displayed selfless teamwork throughout the season. Both races could be the most exciting bouts we’ve seen in years on this stage.
No matter what happens or who wins, you can bet that Baloise-Trek riders will have a big say in the proceedings.
Who are the young guns I should be keeping an eye on?
Catching a glimpse of the future is one of the best aspects of World Championships. Tomorrow’s legends? Names the world will remember for decades after their careers have ended? They’ll be racing in the junior and U23 ranks this weekend.
From Baloise-Trek, expect Ward Huybs, Fleur Moors and David Haverdings to make noise in the U23 races. Huybs has been in the podium hunt all season, and scored a big win at the X2O Trofee race in Koksijde at the start of the year. Moors, just 18 years old, has been testing her mettle in the elite ranks all season and holding her own, with a fourth place finish at Belgian National Championships and a 11th place finish at the GP Sven Nys in Baal. And Haverdings scored U23 wins at X2O Trofee events in Herentals and on the famed Koppenberg.
CXHairs Devo has been carrying the torch for American cyclocross development for years. They’ll be rolling up to Tabor in full force. Andrew Strohmeyer is coming off a pair of very strong performances, taking eighth and fifth at U23 World Cup events in Benidorm and Hoogerheide, respectively. For the women, Ella Brenneman and Keira Bond have been racing among the elites for more than a month now, and they’ll be well-seasoned for the U23 race. Mia Aseltine of Competitive Edge Racing and Marcis Shelton, a privateer, have been top 10 fixtures at elite U.S. events, and will also be in the mix.
Among the juniors, Miles Mattern will represent the CXHairs Devo men, and Alyssa Sarkisov and Lidia Cusack will represent the women. Arthur van den Boer and Senn Bossaerts will race the junior men’s event for the AA Drink Young Lions, the development program associated with Baloise-Trek. Henry Coote and Luke Walter will ride Boones for Competitive Edge Racing and Boulder Junior Cycling, respectively. And Vida Lopez de San Roman will represent Bear National Team in the women’s junior race after a season that included a U.S. national title in December.
I'm overflowing with American patriotism. Who should I be rooting for?
Like riders who ooze style and fight for every inch? Then you’ll want to follow the Steve Tilford Foundation Racing squad throughout the weekend.
Raylyn Nuss is the fearless team captain. She scored a bronze medal at national champs, and with two European World Cup races under her belt this year, she’ll be in peak form in Tabor. Curtis White will take on the elite men’s race after a season that included six domestic wins. The 2022 national champion is one of the most tenacious riders in the field. And finally, team newcomer Katie Clouse is a budding star. The 22-year-old will race the U23 event after throwing elbows among the elites all season, and scoring silver at national champs.
Eric Brunner, the 2023 men’s U.S. national champion, will also be racing on a Boone. That quartet of riders will be giving their all in Tabor.
Is there a theme song to this year's World Championships? Preferably sung by the mayor of the Czech Republic's 30th-largest city?
Buddy, you know it:
And with that, you are now armed with everything you need to enjoy a killer weekend of racing.