photo credits @ UCI
On the last weekend of this month, the world’s cyclocross Elite, together with thousands of fans, will converge on the small town of Bieles, Luxembourg, for the 2017 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. Preparations are in hand, and organizer Eric Leyder can’t wait for the opening day of competition to arrive.
“As an organizer, I hope for good weather with temperatures just below freezing point,” Leyder said. “If that’s the case, we’re hoping to reach our goal of 25,000 spectators. A large part of those spectators should come from Luxembourg. We think that this is a big chance for cyclocross in the wider region. We’ve heard that many people who have never seen a cyclocross race will be coming,. Added to this, I’d love to see a good result for our ambassador of the World Championships, Christine Majerus; we hope for a spot in the top six. We would like to have a big party, combining sport and celebration. It would be a boost for this incredible sport.”
Luxembourg has already organized four UCI World Championships for the cyclocross discipline, but the last time dates back to 1968.
It could have been end of story. But that would have been without the motivation of three passionate cyclocross fans – Eric Leyder, his brother Christian, and Roger Hutmacher – who were determined to bring the Worlds back to their country. “We’re fans of this incredible sport. The three of us have seen more than 70 World Championships together and always wondered why there were no longer cyclo-cross worlds in Luxembourg. So finally, we decided to do it ourselves, together with our major partner, the commune of Sanem. The town of Sanem supports the event in every possible way: both financially, as the biggest partner, but also logistically, with their public relations and manpower,” Leyder said.
The major structural work on the site in Bieles was carried out in 2016. The remaining work will be completed in the final days before the event, Leyder explains. “Until now, everything has worked well. It’s clear that you encounter problems when organising such an event, but problems are there to be solved. About eighty percent of the work has been done, but the other twenty percent will have to be done in the next twenty days,” Leyder said on Wednesday. He isn’t panicking, having organized multiple events, such as for gardening and national holiday celebrations, for the commune of Sanem. “We have also had bigger events with over 10,000 spectators, for example a Formula 1 show race at the same location as the finish area for the UCI Cyclocross World Championships. But this is the first cyclocross race I have organized,” Leyder said.
For his first cyclocross event he couldn’t have chosen bigger.
When preparing the World Championships weekend, Eric Leyder tried to learn from other organizations. “As a newbie, you have to see other races. You pick what you like and leave out what you don’t like. In the end, you have to assemble everything while keeping in mind that you need to have the best possible event within the available budget. It feels a bit like being an orchestra conductor who has to assemble all the instruments to make a nice sound out of it.”
Leyder explains that the UCI has been a helpful partner throughout the process. “The UCI is responsible for everything that concerns the sport itself, including the timing. UCI’s Technical Delegate Beat Wabel needs to approve the course which was designed by Roger Hutmacher and my brother Christian Leyder. The UCI is there for the official ceremony with the medals … They have been very helpful. As you can understand, we had a lot of questions!”
Fans can get access to both days of the 2017 Bieles UCI Cyclocross World Championships for €50.
“We think that €50 for a two-day event featuring the best riders from all over the world is not too much; it’s €25 per day. We had a look at the last Worlds in Heusden-Zolder and took some euros off to fix our price.” Leyder said. Free public transportation is included in that price, he adds.
Transportation is one of three points where sustainability was key. “We have tried to organize these Worlds in the most sustainable way possible. With your entry ticket, you have access to free public transportation throughout Luxembourg during the two race days. All our communication is done with the idea that Luxembourg residents should come by train or by bus. One of the biggest railway stations in Luxembourg is only 700 meters from the site. Added to that, there’s a very good bus network throughout the south of Luxembourg. During the race weekend, there’ll be a higher number of vehicles available. We also arranged a package with our travel partner Sales-Lentz for those who travel from the Antwerp region in Belgium,” Leyder said.
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