Ireland is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the world’s best motorcyclists

The last time the World Cup cycled across the North Sea was in 2014. England’s Milton Keynes welcomed ten thousand spectators. This was a success, but due to heavy rain, the boycotters plowed Campbell’s lawn into a mud puddle. The Park Rangers put an end to the second edition.

This will not happen this year. It has rained every day in recent weeks but since Thursday the sky over Dublin has turned blue and there is a white layer on the mud. The freeze will continue this weekend. The surface dries. “It’s not going to be a cross of shoveling,” says Chris Mannaerts of Flanders Classics organizer.

Advance ticket sales go like a train. Five thousand units have already been shipped. “This is the same number as Antwerp and Maasmechelen. We can talk about a top cross,” says van den Spiegel. He is not surprised. “The cross is popular in Ireland and the UK. They have been waiting for a major event for years.

No local toppers

With seventy credits, the media is getting curious. Local cycling legend Sean Kelly will also be in attendance. Everyone wants to be there. Why?

“Cross Cross is a young discipline in Ireland,” says Andy Laier, Irish cyclo-cross coach. “We have some good riders like Sam Bennett, but no champion riders. You have sisters Annie and Stephanie Roche, but they are popular because they can say uncle to Stephen Roche and they are the nieces of Nicholas Roche and Dan Martin. Dean Harvey is a talent at nineteen. It will be a top twenty success indeed.” I think Irish fans would especially like to see a world champion as Wout van Aert in real life.”

With Van Aert and Tom Pidcock, two world class players will travel to Dublin. According to van den Spiegel, their presence is not critical to a successful pre-sale. Dublin was already interested in staging the World Cup in 2019, but covid has thrown a wrench into the works. When London canceled this year, they were eager to fill that vacant seat. They want to become a permanent fixture.”

There is no shortage of enthusiasm, but do they also have a path worthy of the World Cup? Layhe: “Sunday we get a typical parkcross. It’s not technically demanding: an artificial sandpit, a bridge and two short hills of seventeen metres. The long straights on the turf are perfect for guys with strength. The course is perfect for Van Aert. I think he’ll win quite easily “.

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