Cyclocross in Belgium

The following page will give you a quick overview of how cyclocross works in Belgium (more specifically Flanders). We will cover the different cyclocross categories for elites, amateurs and masters rider, plus what to expect from the cyclocross races in Belgium.

Jeremy Powers running the stairs

Categories
Below is an breakdown of the different category options for cyclocross, Veldrijden in Flemish/Dutch. The ‘standard’ amateur race is a “Veldrijden form B” race. These races are one of the best options for regular racers. If you are able to place in the top 5 in a UCI race in the US, you can consider racing a UCI 1 or 2 races in Belgium, but you will often find the B races give you a more competitive event.

For Masters racers, you need to search for Form D races. Your sub-category depends on your age, and often will see the A Masters level cyclocross racers race with the Amateurs, and the B and C Masters race together, but starting 1 or 2 minutes apart.

You can find an appropriate race on the Wielerbond Website or through our “Belgian Cycling Race Finder” page.

 

Veldrijden U23

Cyclocross races for U23 riders only (Beloften and Espoirs)

Veldrijden form. A

Classification for Belgian Championships races, either Provincial or National

Veldrijden Klasse 1 UCI

A C1 UCI cyclocross race

Veldrijden Klasse 2 UCI

A C2 UCI cyclocross race

Veldrijden Aspiranten

Cyclocross race for riders from age 12 to 14

Veldrijden form. B

A standard Elite and U23 cyclocross race. The cyclocross equivalent to a kermis / kermesse

Veldrijden form. C.

Cyclocross races for Juniors and Nieuwlingen

Veldrijden form. D

Cyclocross races for Masters and Amateurs, this group is split into 5 different groups:- Amateurs – up to 29 years in age- Master A – from 30 to 34 years- Master B – from 35 to 44 years- Master C – from 45 to 54 years

- Master D – from 55+ years

Veldrijden Dames

A women’s specific cyclocross race

Veldrijden Gentlemen

An amateur cyclocross race, a bit easier than a AM/MAS A race or Form B

Veldrijden Juniors UCI

UCI classified race for Juniors

Veldrijden Miniemen

Cyclocross race for riders from age 8 to 11 years

Other Cyclocross Racing Calendars:

Alternate Race Leagues in Belgium:
You can also look to the website of the Belgian Cycling Selection to find some alternate races to those of the Wielerbond Vlaanderen site. This website covers several smaller “federations” within Belgium and is more oriented towards the “weekend warrior” riders who want to race, but are not super-competitive ex-pro riders. If you are a lower-category racer from your country, these will be more equivalent to the level you race back home.

What to expect from cyclocross races in Belgium?
There are some amazing cyclocross races in Belgium, but what you will be getting isn’t always what you will be expecting. Be aware that while many of the UCI races you have seen on the internet streaming from Sporza have some crazy cool courses, many of the lower level B-cross and Masters-cross races are true to their name “field races”, the literal translation of Veldrijden. It is not a hard and fast rule, but most of the lower level races are nowhere as intricate as their UCI counterparts.

That isn’t to say these races are simple or easy, just different. You will still be getting a great race, with intense competition, but the skills level needed won’t be as crazy.

Racing UCI Events v.s Racing “B” Level Events:
As a foreigner in Belgium there is a huge temptation to want to race all of the top UCI events, you have the crowd, the fly overs, the depth of field, and not to mention the chance that friends and family back home may be able to catch a glimpse of you live on Sporza coverage. But you must always be honest with yourself when planning a racing schedule between top UCI events and Level B events.

You want to fit into a race where you can be competitive, be pushed to learn new skills, and most of all improve as a rider. While the honest truth about UCI events is that they may just be counterproductive to your goals. Being pulled early due to the 80% rule race after race can metaphorically crack you, and worse of all can actually diminish your fitness if those are the only races that you are competing in.

If you are not quite there yet you might want to consider sticking to the B level races, and perhaps trying one smaller UCI event just for the experience, so that when you return in the future you know how it’s done.

Remember there is no shame in competing in B Level events, after all most road racers that come to Belgium compete in Kermesse races or Interclubs, not the Tour of Flanders.

Weather – I would plan for the worst, and hope for the best when it comes to Belgian races. You should always plan for a slog-fest of mud and cold when racing in Belgium. Snow and ice are also very likely between the months of December – February.
Temperatures in Belgium can range significantly from year to year so you can expect anywhere between 15 degrees Celsius and – 15 degrees Celsius for the months of October-February.
Some of the earlier ‘cross races in September and October can see some very warm temperatures of up to 30+ degrees, but you can reasonably anticipate temperatures between 15-25 degrees Celsius.
Check out Meteo.be for the most accurate weather forecasts for Belgium.

Registration/Parking – When racing the lower level B and Masters races you will often have to “pre-pay” for your entry upon entering the parking area. They will have you and your assistants pay for your entry into the course, but will give you a slip of paper or token of some sort that you hand in at registration as your payment for the race. Expect to pay for entry to all the races, but considering that the cost of most races is minimal (around 5 euros), it’s not such a big deal. Make sure that you always bring your license, and a copy of your foreign permission letter. In UCI races you are not required to return your numbers, but it is wise to always ask at the smaller races, and always always always remember to bring your own safety pins!!!

For those racing as Juniors or younger you will also be required to purchase a calendar card which restricts the number of races that you can do per week to 3 for Juniors and 2 for Nieuwlingen (which is not typically an issue for ‘cross races, except maybe during the Christmas period). You can find more on that in our Kermis Racing section under License Requirements for Racing.

Parking for UCI events can be a bit more challenging due to the number of participants throughout the day (from Juniors through to Elites) and the size of some of the team set ups. The parking areas can range from a long strips of road (where the closest parking area is always reserved for the Elite men racers) to a field (be prepared for mud), to a large parking lot.
Some events may even require you to obtain a parking pass in advance (ie. World Cup events, where passes are distributed through your National Team, or Superprestige Gavere for example which takes place on a military base).
There will be signs posted for the Registration Headquarters, but if not you can always ask an official to direct you – just ask for the Inschrijving. You can always find out the location in advance through the event website as well. At registration you will be given your rider pass, and numbers, plus passes and arm bands for your mechanic(s) and start/finish line assistants. Make sure that you always bring your license, a copy of your foreign permission letter, and we can’t stress this enough remember to bring your own safety pins!

Racing – Most races are seeded using the races series system, so be prepared to have a last row call up. Sometimes they may call you up early as a foreigner, but often you will be at the last row of call up.

Support Options:
You are going to need support at almost all of the races that you do in Belgium. It’s possible to get away with no support at some early season races if the weather is nice (though you may need someone for feeding if it is over 20 degrees Celsius), but you are going to need support at the races in bad weather. The ChainStay can always be contacted to see about our availability for help, but if we are not able to help the best place to start is with a bike shop in the area you will be staying. They should be able to help find you someone to support you at the races. The cost can be anything from free (a six-pack of beer) to upwards of €100 euros for an experienced mechanic.

Tire/Tyre and Wheel Selections:
If you can, bring a full complement of wheels, but if you are traveling light here are my suggestions on what gear to bring.

- Two bikes, each with 2 sets of mud tires (Limus, Rhino’s or the like) … this is the bare bones set-up when traveling, but the most versatile. You rarely find yourself saying, “oh man I wish I had less grip!”, but more often the opposite. So bring the deepest tread tires your have.

- If you can, bring a set of mid-tread tires with you, then after those, a set of training wheels. You can bring file-treads to Belgium, but the one course I’ve seen them used on is the Koksijde course. On rare occasions a pro will use them when others won’t, but they are best kept at home when coming to Belgium. Better to have a spare set of mid-tread over the file-tread.

- Bring a second bike over mid-tread wheels, much more important to have a spare bike than the extra wheels.

Christmas ‘Cross:
This is a very special time of the year for ‘cross races. From mid-December all the way to the first days of January you will find around 11 bike races for you to compete in, even Christmas Day. The schedule you choose should reflect your abilities and how much racing you are able to handle. My advice is to plan a schedule where you can give your all in each and every race. No sense going to all the trouble of showing up for less than 20 minutes of racing if you are too tired to avoid getting lapped. Best to show up ready to rock!

Koksijde – Gent-6 cross period:
This is a period many people who are unable to make the Christmas ‘cross should consider. You have the World Cup in Koksijde, plus usually another World Cup the weekend after, but then you have some great Gent-6 day racing in-between. While you won’t have the number of races, it’s a great option for getting two races each weekend, plus some nice sight-seeing, race viewing, and training during the week. It does fall over the American Thanksgiving weekend most of the time, so it can be a bit hard to find the time off.

More general information about Belgium and racing can be found under our Bicycle Racing Guide.
And if you have any other ‘cross related questions please do not hesitate to contact us by email, facebook, or twitter!

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