My First Cyclocross Experience.

Cyclocross World Championships review, by a road racing fan.

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On Sunday the final event of the cyclocross season was held in Oostmalle, Belgium.

This occurrence always gets me excited as it means that the the road racing season, proper, would be about to start. Sure there have been some silly little races in the Middle East and other places that aren’t Europe but with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris-Nice on the horizon things are starting to get serious.

This year is different however.  I finally got round to watching my first weekend of cyclocross recently. It was the World Championships in Zolder and as it was only three weeks ago and the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed things means that this February the end of the cyclocross season has come to soon.

Before I sat down to watch my first race, the Womens Elite Final, I thought I’d have enough knowledge of ‘cross’, as they call it, to understand what was going to happen. While I had never watched a full race, never mind a weekend of racing, I had seen plenty of clips of the sport on the internet, though mostly of racers bunny hopping over obstacles, to show me what went on. I was also aware of some of the riders, past and present, from listening to podcasts and from them popping up on various social media time lines. I was familiar with recent World Champions Lars Boom and Zdeneck Stybar. Marianne Vos and Pauline Ferrand-Prevout were the two huge names on the womens side of the sport and like Lars and Zdeneck  had changed disciplines and were now riding on the road.

So I was expecting some form of road racing on mud with things playing out the same way as in a one day classic. The terrain would certainly be different but the riders and the equipment were essentially the same. I thought I would be watching a condensed version of Roubaix or Flanders where the strongest team would gradually grind down the opposition allowing their team leader to claim victory. Right from the start though I became aware that I didn’t have a clue. So here is my guide to cyclocross, for a roadie.

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Giro d’Italia Review

Giro d'Italia 2014 - 21a tappa - Gemona del Friuli-Trieste.

Photo from ENGIE Italia on Flickr

On Sunday Nairo Quintana crossed the finish line in Trieste, North East Italy, wearing the Maglia Rosa, the jersey of the leader of the Giro d’Italia to become the first rider from outside Europe, Australia, North America and Kenya to win one of cycling’s Grand Tours. How was this victory achieved and what other stories were told during three weeks of exciting and at times utterly boring racing?

Before the race was in actual Italy there were three days racing in Northern and Southern Ireland. Visiting the island was deemed a success as huge crowds lined the roads to watch the race. Those wishing to see the three home riders would have been disappointed though as Dan Martin who represents Ireland crashed out after a matter of minutes, sliding on a drainage cover and taking out half his team, so only Irishman Nicholas Roche and actual Irishman Philip Deignan were left in the peleton. Australian team Orica Green Edge had a successful start with victory inthe stage one time trial and two different riders wearing the leaders jersey. The undoubted King of Ireland was however Marcel Kittel who took two stages with some powerful sprinting. Continue reading