Words by Cyclocrossrider.com editor Konrad Manning
You cannot have failed to notice that cyclocross is on the up. The UCI World Cup is coming to Britain for the first time this year. There’s also talk of the sport’s inclusion in the Winter Olympics whilst summer racing and ‘cross sportives grow rapidly. It’s all very exciting for the ever-increasing numbers of us who ride ‘cross bikes and watch the big pro races from Belgium.
From a bicycle industry point of view, buyer choice is now no longer restricted to niche cyclocross companies as the majority of major bike brands now have at least one ‘cross model and the big component manufacturers are increasingly investing in a number of ‘cross-specific products. Furthermore, new bike purchasers are easily attracted to the all-round capabilities of a cyclocross bike – it’s almost an easy sale for retail!
We noted that Chris Boardman told BikeBiz recently “I don’t expect CX growth to slow any time soon.” The range of Boardman cyclocross bikes he also said “had repeatedly sold out.” This is great to hear from Chris who rides his own ‘cross bike more than his road bike, “with the versatility to ride at a reasonable lick on the road but also be able to incorporate tracks and paths.”
Disc brakes are now being embraced by the sport despite early scepticism. Early issues – especially at the 2013 Worlds in Louisville – have spawned new approaches in design and manufacture to the point where decisions will now need to be taken about discs in road racing.
What was once a slightly dark art, shown rarely on TV, is actually the most accessible form of cycle sport and is surely the fastest growing. As someone who has long championed the sport and the appeal of riding a ‘cross bike it’s incredibly heartening to see this rise and exciting to launch a new website (www.cyclocrossrider.com) which will reflect the sport’s energy and vitality.
Cyclocross was born in the Paris suburbs at the very end of the nineteenth century. There is a common misconception that it was, and perhaps still is, winter training for road racers, but cyclocross racing has been around almost as long as cycle sport itself and indeed began before the inaugural Tour de France over a century ago. Early pro cyclists were very much all-rounders, road surfaces were poor and they rode cyclocross races in order to win prize money all year round and help put food on the table.
Riders like Zdenek Štybar and Francis Mourey are carrying on that tradition. Štybar won the world ‘cross title in February and then finished fifth in Paris-Roubaix and French ‘cross champion Mourey was grafting away in the lead group on the Giro’s opening mountain stage in mid-May after racing a full ‘cross season. The legend that is Marianne Vos has won seven world cyclocross titles and is surely on her way to becoming one of the greatest cyclists in history.
Great Britain has hosted the World cyclocross championships on three previous occasions (the last being in Leeds in 1992), but in November a round of the UCI World Cup will bring the world’s best to Milton Keynes. It’s going to be a great weekend for British cyclocross.
There has been no better time to be into cyclocross and our aim at Cyclocrossrider.com is to spread the joy of ‘cross further. We’ll do this with gear testing, star interviews, race reporting, grassroots, news and comment, all served up with the best images and film. We’ll also bring you Cyclocrossrider events starting with our own ‘cross sportive in the London area on August 31st.
Cyclocrossrider.com will go live in September, but prior to that there is an active Facebook page www.facebook.com/CYCLOCROSSRIDER