2021 European Road Cycling Championship for students in Nijmegen replaces cancelled World Championship
The World Road Cycling and Mountain Biking Championship for students in Nijmegen this year was cancelled, due to the coronavirus. The organisers intend to make up for it with a European Championship from 8 to 13 June 2021. ‘There will be as few changes to the set-up and the programme as possible’, says Gijs Jongeneel, one of the organisers.
As soon as it became clear that the World Road Cycling Championship for students in June this year had to be cancelled, the organisation – comprised largely of students at Radboud University and the HAN – changed tack. ‘Initially, we intended to move the event to 2021, in the same format’, says Gijs Jongeneel, HAN student and member of the organisation, on the phone.
Unfortunately, organising a World Championship in 2021 is not possible, mainly because the Universiade, which is ‘the Olympic Games for students’ is scheduled to take place in Chengdu in China next year. That event is taking up all the capacity of FISU, the international federation which organises these sporting events for students. For that reason, and given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, FISU decided to cancel the WUCC (World Road Cycling Championship for students – ed.) and all other world championships’, says Jongeneel.
Important countries for road cycling
The Nijmegen organisers are taking a different tack with the organisation of a European Championship. They’re collaborating with EUSA, FISU’s European counterpart. ‘Since the EUSA has never organised a European Road Cycling Championship for students, we are working with them to set up guidelines and regulations specifically for road cycling.’
Registration for the European Championship opens in December. The organisation is hoping to welcome between 250 and 350 athletes, including coaches, to Nijmegen. ‘No fewer than 24 countries had already registered for the WUCC in 2020 and we expect them all to attend in 2021 too.’ According to Jongeneel, the standard of the European Championship can be as high as a World Championship. ‘Naturally, we’re hoping that road cycling countries such as Italy, France and Spain will send their best road cyclists to Nijmegen.’
As far as the finances are concerned, the organisers say they have managed to keep down extra expenses as far as possible, apart from the costs of printed materials already produced for the WUCC and a few facilities which are running for longer. ‘But we can take that hit’, says Jongeneel. ‘There may be extra expenses due to corona measures but we’re trying to be flexible with that. The way things stand at the moment, we don’t foresee any problems.’
Negative corona test
Naturally, no-one can predict how the corona situation will be in June. That makes things difficult for the organisers. ‘For now, we’re making preparations for the European Championship as though everything will be back to normal in June’, says Jongeneel. ‘That might be a bit naive, but we’re all hoping that will be the case.’ It will be February before the organisers can apply to the municipality for their licences. ‘That will be an important moment.’
According to Jongeneel, organising the competition to be ‘corona-proof’ will not be a problem anyway. Competitors may either be required to provide a negative corona test certificate. Whether they also have to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is something the organisation can’t as yet say. ‘Our coordinator of medical affairs is in contact with such bodies as the local health authority (GGD) about that. Their guidelines and recommendations will be followed.’
There’s a slight possibility that there will be no supporters, or just a few, lining the route during the European Championship. ‘Naturally, that would be a great pity. In particular, for the Mountain Bike Eliminator (see box – ed.) which will take place on the Thursday evening – the traditional students’ evening – on campus. It would be fantastic if students could be there to enjoy it, beer in hand.’
The European Road Cycling Championship for students – male and female – will take place in Nijmegen from 8 to 13 June. The opening ceremony will be on the Tuesday and on Wednesday, the individual time trial. On Thursday, the Mountain Bike Eliminator, a short, fast run on an obstacle course, will take place on the Erasmusplein. Friday is a day of rest and on Saturday, the Mountain Bike Cross Country will take place in Groesbeek. Last, on Sunday, is the road race in Berg en Dal and the Ooijpolder.