Interview with the CX king of Belgium, Superprestige president, Etienne Gevaert.
Very interesting. For a start, the interactions between Superprestige and UCI sound a lot like that between OBRA, Oregon Bicycle Racing Organization and US Cycling . Both attarct huge crowds (granted at different scales) relative to the events of the governing bodies. Both staff their events with volunteers who work their butts off because they love it. Both offer food, beer, entertainment and fun. Both are seeing governing bodies that want to tie their hands (apparently because what they are doing works too well).
One real difference between Superprestige and OBRA is women's racing. It is barely there at the Superprestige events, run early in the morning before all the men's events if at all. At OBRA events, the women usually run immediately before the elite men and are always invited. (I haven't checked this out; this is just from observation.)
I would like to see Superprestige up the women's side, but in all, it is a great model on how to promote bike racing; not just to make $$s, draw crowds and pick up TV time, but more important, have an event that draws in kids. Superprestige is self sustaining because it has been drawing in kids for 30 years all over the country of Belgium. OBRA is far smaller, but young racers (and budding women) are seen here. Every July, kids barely bigger than toddlers get to do the "Kiddie Kilo" in front of a crowd at the Velodrome (at lunchtime, Alpenrose Challenge). When they are just a little older, they can sign up for classes Wednesday nights.
And as for UCI/US Cycling working to limit the amount elite pros can ride in these unsanctioned events? Why? Yes, I know, it dilutes the "official" races. And therefore dilutes UCI/US Cycling income. (And as Mr. Gevaert pointed out, those races are often run at a loss and are subsidized by those governing authorities.) But the races that "hurt" the top races are also the races that foster the future. And while they are fostering the future, they are also making money - because people, both racers and fans, WANT to be there. What a concept!