Cyclocross doesn’t get much more exciting than today. Our first national team races at the UCI World Championships in Hoogerheide this weekend and it includes two chicks! Who would have imagined that three years ago?
CX has a long history in Europe and it’s strong in north America but it’s not even four years since the Dirty Deeds CX crew started ‘getting riders muddy and smiling’ in Melbourne in 2010. They followed up bigger and better in 2011, which also brought a winter series to Port Adelaide CC. And then a summer series. Back home we scored a Vic Open.
By 2012 we had regs and a national series raced in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide (with equal prizemoney!) thanks to lots of work by DDCX, PACC and in NSW, Manly Warringah MTB, plus support and goodwill from the state and national bodies. The 2012 Adelaide courses are still my favourites; they made my bike so very happy.
By 2013 we had an official national championship, and now in 2014 we have a national team from three states at the world championships:
* Elite men: Nick Both NSW
* Elite women: Lisa Jacobs and Mel Anset, Vic
* U23 men: Alexander Meyland Vic and Tom Chapman SA
* U19 men: Nick Smith NSW
* Team manager: Greg Meyland
The action starts Saturday morning (Dutch time) with Junior Men, followed in the afternoon by the Elite Women. Local hero Marianne Vos will be lining up against World Cup champ Katie Compton, along with Sanne Cant, Helen Wyman, Nikki Harris, Aussies Jacobs and ‘smiling assassin’ Anset and the rest of the world’s best.
Sunday starts with the U23 Men and ends with Aussie Nick Both taking on the world’s elite men: Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Zdenek Stybar, Jeremy Powers, Lars van der Haar …
Thanks to UCI Channel, we can watch the whole lot live. The streams should start as follows:
* Junior Men Saturday 8.50-10pm
* Elite Women Saturday night (Sunday morning) 12.50am-2am
* U23 Men Sunday 8.50pm-10.50pm
* Elite Men Sunday night (Monday morning) 12.50-2.30am
If you’re not staying up, you’ll find full replays at those links later.
How did we get here?
For those new to the cyclocross party, Lisa Jacobs won the 2012 inaugural national women’s elite cx series and backed up with the 2013 inaugural women’s elite cx championship. She’s an ex-full time roadie, still with the Victorian Institute of Sport. There’s an insight to her worlds preparation here.
Mel Anset took silver in the 2012 national series, winning the final two races in Sydney. She was the clear winner in round five on the Saturday, but had to hold her nerve for an hour error-free as Jacobs worried her wheel all race on the Sunday. There’s a good piece on her road to the worlds here.
That same Sydney weekend (the only cyclocross series with sunscreen?) also produced moments that start to build our local folklore as Tasmanian mountain biker Sid Taberlay – fresh from Cross Vegas – rode the ‘unrideable’ death pit each lap.
Mountain biker Adrian Jackson won that inaugural elite men’s series from Lewis Rattray.
In 2013, the elite women also raced to the wire, with the title decided only in the final minutes of the final race, as Rowena Fry finished fourth to win the series from Sarah Holmes, with Anset in third.
Paul Van Der Ploeg terrified the barriers to take the 2013 men’s elite series from Adrian Jackson, while Allan Iacuone won the 2013 national cx championship – 19 years after his national road championship. You couldn’t script this stuff.
Over time, we’ve seen the national rounds become more serious and pros and ex-pros like Iacuone and Danny Hennessy lured from retirement for spectator pleasure: Robbie McEwen rode a couple of national races last year and loved it, and track star Anna Meares swapped the boards for Adelaide’s grass and dirt in her post-Olympics down-time. But there’s still lots of laughs and pain to be had at the back of the nationals races, and in club events.
Hope you enjoy cx worlds. Best of luck to all the Aussies, especially Mel and Lisa.
And if you think it looks like fun, think about dusting off a beater or beating a cow bell in a park or a paddock near you this winter.