For the first time in the history of the World Cup, we will also have a women’s U23 world champion tomorrow. A good thing you would think, but the way in which that title is awarded raises questions. The U23 race will be integrated into that of the pros. “It’s nice that there is finally something for promises, but this way is not good,” says cycling analyst Marijn de Vries.
Two world titles can be earned in a race on Saturday: one in the pros, for the first to cross the line, and one in the promises, for the first rider under 23.
Former rider and journalist Marijn de Vries has her reservations about that system: “In other words, you organize a separate competition for U23 riders, or you do nothing at all. The promises are really not done enough.”
De Vries sees several problems with the current format. First, there is no overview. “It’s not that the promises get a different kind of back number or that they have a color applied to them, so you don’t even know which riders to pay attention to,” she says.
Moreover, not all countries fight with equal weapons, says De Vries. “For example, on the one hand you have the Dutch selection that is very large. I can imagine that Shirin van Anrooij can just do her own thing with the promises. She is therefore immediately one of the top favorites.”
Shirin van Anrooij is one of the top favorites for the U23 title.
“Julie De Wilde, the Belgian promise, probably does not have that luxury. With Lotte Kopecky, the Belgians have a rider who can really do something in the final, so you also want De Wilde to take on the role of servant. So she takes her own chances. The national coach is thus squeezed into an impossible position.”
De Vries also has a third point of criticism: “What is also problematic is that the promises now have to ride the same distance as the elite women. And if you just come over from the juniors, almost 170 kilometers is really a very long distance. The question is whether that is good for their development.”
On the one hand you want De Wilde to be a servant for Kopecky, on the other hand she sacrifices her own chances. The national coach is forced into an impossible position.
Separate match only solution
The current format will only last for a year anyway. Next season, the promises will have a separate game. The only correct solution according to De Vries.
“That’s actually better,” she says. “The counter-arguments are then that the peloton will be too small and the differences in level too large. And that will indeed be the case during the first years, but it is the only way to grow that category.”
“In addition, with a separate race you also give the opportunity to a wider line of riders. If you now look at the Dutch selection, a lot of riders have stayed at home who would certainly be worth the level of the World Cup U23. It should just be equal. are up to the men,” concludes the Dutch journalist.
De Wilde, contender for promise title, will ride for Kopecky: “She has a lot of chance”
Like Marijn de Vries, Julie De Wilde does not run wild with the current format: “It is bizarre, because there will be promises who will have to ride for their elite compatriots and other promises will be allowed to go their own way.”
On paper, De Wilde is our big Belgian contender for the U23 title, but her priorities lie elsewhere: “It is a special fact, several prizes in one race, but with the team we prefer the world title among the elites.”
“I think Lotte has a great chance”, she adds with a smile, “Mount Pleasant suits her perfectly. She is best at such a course.”