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Friday, 27 January 2012

Cherub Rock

Just a quick note to point out that the World Cyclocross Champs are on this weekend over in Belgium and amidst the flying sand and slippery mud there are a couple of things well worth noting:

Australia will have it's first entrant for quite a number of years (I have heard there was someone who entered in the 90s - confirm/deny?) Lewis has been having more and more fun, and in his last race he felt pretty good. I can say that it's been really awesome seeing his australia skin suit get moment so screen time on the replays I"ve caught. While in all honesty he doesn't stand much chance of a podium finish, simply getting a start and mixing it up with the likes of Nys, Albert, Stybar and Pauwels has to be a life highlight.

This looks to be the first worlds where technical skills will come to the fore for a while. That, combined with Koksijde's very sandy course and a lack of frozen ground will mean that the podium may well be a little different from the past couple of years. May being the operative word...

My tips (for whatever it's worth as this is 'cross and it can all go very wrong in a second):
Womens - You'd be a fool to bet against Marianne Vos. Her form coming up this race has been exemplary, she has solid technical skills and power, power, power. If anyone might have had a chance it would have been Katie F Compton. Traditionally the course really plays to her technical strengths, and if this was last year I'd have had no hesitation putting her as my favourite, but this year she just hasn't been able to hit it full gas at the starts and elsewhere and has had a few equipment issues that have cost her valuable time and missed key selections. I do hope this is her day to shine as it would be amazing. Far outside chance: Daphny Van Der Brand - she retires at the end of this season and it would be great to see her go out with the rainbow jersey. 

Mens - My pick - The Cannibal from Baal. Sven Nys came back from back spasms to win arguably the only race that comes close to the World Champs, the Belgian National Champs, and this course suits his technical power and smart head. Look for his now-trademark crap start and then for him to sit in slowly blow any group off his wheel with well timed attacks and surges. He has had some ups'n'downs in the past couple of years and its been a while since he wore the rainbow stripes. I think he really wants this to avenge some mishaps that kept his out of the World Cup champions jersey. But personal bias aside, if Niels Albert wakes up on the right side of bed i'm picking he will play a big role in the race. When he has been on this year, he has shown signs of the talent that earn his national and world champs stripes on his jersey, and he has a history with the course. But he has had days where he was definitely not firing (much like a certain playboy countryman cyclist with whom he is often mentioned in the same sentence). Of course you can't talk about the men's race without mentioning the proverbial fly in the belgian embro - Z.Stybar. Currently riding what is arguable the loudest bike in the group and showing that you can ride a full road season and back up for podium positions he is definitely a threat to the men in the yellow/red/black. But my gut feeling is that he doesn't have the finesse for a tight battle of skills with an in-form Nys/Albert, of course if it goes for a bunch kick I'd keep an eye on him. Far outside chance: Pauwels -  he seems to be shining on the flatter, faster courses which the course doesn't seem to be this year.

I reserve the right to be completely wrong with the above...

But where to watch it all?

Try here, here and here.

CXMagazine will be streaming live updates for the Men's and Women's races here

Races are (AEST): 
Juniors: Saturday, 28th Jan. 9pm
U23s: Sunday, 29th Jan. 1am

Womens: Sunday, 29th Jan. 9pm
Mens: Monday, 30th Jan. 1am

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Thank You Space Expert

As we enter a new year, and the 'cross season on the other side of the world reaches it's frenetic peak the last few weeks have been full of high stakes races on a national and series level.

Our ever-supportive (and national news/current affairs star) Wade @ Cyclingtips has been running some great Euro season updates. These feature a very complete compendium of race footage links. So if you are just coming back after some summer excess or want to start early on your cross prep for this season you should fire up youtube and get watching.

With the massive rise of 'cross in the land of stars and stripes there was no shortage of footage from the recent Nationals there.

There's really too much to cover, but between cyclingdirts amazing coverage (as always) and cxmagazine's many men and woman on the ground there are a lot of great highlights. No matter what you think of J-Pow his emotion when crossing the line is a great example of passion for a sport.

But I'd also like to draw your attention another great supporter/generator of cross footage. Mr Bill Scheiken. His site 'In The Cross Hairs' is excellent as resource for those racing in the Mid-atlantic region and as a course designer i've stolen a few ideas based on his numerous course previews.

His highlights of both the men's and women's Elite races at the US Nationals are top quality as always. Buy a tshirt or some socks from the guy! (and tell him Nik from Australia sent you)

So with the World's rapidly approaching and Styby riding a bizarrely coloured bike (why pink?) I leave you with the aforementioned videos.
Zdenek Stybar in his new kit (without the Omega!?)

U.S. National Cyclocross Championship 2012 (Elite Men) from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

2012 U.S. National Cyclocross Championships (Elite Women) from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Darling, Leave a Light On For Me

While the weather heres is easily above thirty degrees, and the local trails slowly recover from a holiday onslaught worse than taking thirds for dessert there have been a raft of interesting posts out there in the cyclocross world. Lewis has had a couple of races over with the big kids, and is making progress and getting new sponsors.

Meanwhile CX blogger and junkie MudAndCowbells has posted some great content. First is a great short film about 'Cross on the Colorado Front Range (featuring Boulder "Where they take cyclocross seriously")


The next is his annual 'Best Of' list which features some solid advice and musings on his race and riding world as it intersects with products and experiences. My only thought is just how many pairs of the hi-vis yellow mavic furys will we see at the start line this year?