New Zealand cyclocross national champion, Alexander Revell, famous in Belgium and around the world for his large moustache in the otherwise hairless world of professional cycling, has secured sponsorship through Ricoh New Zealand to return to Europe to compete in the winter discipline.
Last winter Revell (28), gained a significant following in the sport, which is very popular in Belgium. “I got the same volume of cheering around the course as the leaders, even though I was at the back of the race!” Revell said of the 30,000-strong crowds that gather to spectate despite rain, mud and sub-zero temperatures.
After completing a season of racing in Europe, Revell returned to New Zealand where he won the 2013 BikeNZ Cyclocross National Championship in Wanaka on August 24.
Ricoh New Zealand Communications Manager Rick Petford said "Skill, commitment and the best technology - that's Alex's world, and Ricoh's too.
We are excited to be supporting Alex as he and his mighty moustache take on the best of Europe!"
Revell heads first to Gosciecin, Poland to race the Brysky Cross on December 1. He then returns to Belgium to compete in the *Kerstperiode* – the peak of the Flemish racing calendar, culminating in eight of the hour-long races scheduled in the fortnight around Christmas, ending on January 1.
“A public holiday in Belgium means one thing – cyclocross racing” explains Revell. “Ricoh’s support will be invaluable not only for helping me progress my own international aspirations, but equally for promoting and continuing the growth of cyclocross here in New Zealand, where its popularity is exploding.”
Alongside Ricoh, Revell is supported by Mavic, Belgium-based bike manufacturer Nichelson, and Belgian clothing brand Bioracer.
You can follow Revell’s cyclocross journey via his personal blog and the Spoke Magazine blog:
– www.spokemagazine.com “The Cyclo X Files”
Image courtesy of BikeNZ
Cyclo-cross continues to push back its boundaries. China and Japan now have their own UCI events, while Australia and New Zealand have just created their national championships.
The 2013-2014 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup reflects this openness: seventeen nations are listed in the rankings after two rounds.
The Belgians, who usually dominate the discipline, are being challenged: they only lead the Junior Men table (with Eli Iserbyt), whereas the United States leads the Elite Women table (with Katherine Compton), and the Netherlands leads both the Elite Men (Lars Van Der Haar) and the Under-23 Men tables (Mathieu Van Der Poel).
If the best crossmen and crosswomen of the world are from increasingly diverse ethnic backgrounds, it is because the passion for the discipline is on the increase in many countries.
“Cyclo-cross has so many key elements working in its favour allowing it to capture more market share in the very competitive sports landscape,” analyses Mike Plant, President of the UCI Cyclo-Cross Commission. “Among these key elements are world-class athletes, challenging closed-circuit courses which create great spectator viewing opportunities, and shorter event times which are more conducive to every moment of the event having an impact on the end result. We should also mention the excitement and danger caused by the difficult terrain and elements, and the ability to draw spectators to the edge of the ropes and close to the action.”
First event in China, three in Japan
China responded to this trend by organising the first UCI event of its history on 21st September, in Yanqing, north of Beijing. Even the Great Wall could not stop the wave of cyclo-cross. The athletes of the China International Cyclo-Cross event were even invited, on the eve of the competition, to climb up this monument belonging to the World Heritage of Humanity. The line-up of 86 competitors represented 18 countries and four continents.
Among them were four Chinese – three men and one woman – who could well pass on their enthusiasm and quickly create a pool of national competitors instigated by the national federation, which appears to have appreciated the event. The organisers (Dalian Qiansen Sports Facilities Engineering Co, a firm specialised in the construction of velodromes and mountain bike and BMX tracks), had for their part fallen in love with cyclo-cross on the occasion of an event in Ronse (Belgium) in October 2010.
“Everything had to be impeccably organised,” emphasised Peter Van den Abeele, Manager Off-Road UCI. “The potential of cyclo-cross in this region is enormous when we consider the demographic potential of Beijing, with its 15 million inhabitants. China just needs time to develop and foster this positive evolution.”
Asia has a total of four UCI cyclo-cross competitions in 2013-2014, as Japan has registered two events; one in Nobeyama and one in Yasu City. In 2010, Japan had inaugurated its first event on the international calendar, in the sands of Daiba's Park, in the bay of Tokyo. This race, which is associated with a cycling exhibition, attracted no less than 13,000 spectators last season. The country currently has two of its riders up in the World Cup rankings: Ayako Toyooka in Elite Women and Yu Takenouchi in Elite Men.
Oceania wants to attract fixie enthusiasts to cyclo-cross
Cyclo-cross is growing in popularity in the Pacific region. Evidence of this can be seen in New Zealand and Australia, which created their national championships in this discipline last summer. The first nation offers 44 national events, which take place between June and September and boasts singlespeed star Angus Edmond who is a deserving ambassador riding in the rounds of the current UCI World Cup.
Australia also hopes to convert to cyclo-cross some enthusiasts from the fixie movement that has flourished in urban centres. In parallel it would like to initiate road and mountain-bike athletes into the discipline. In addition to its championship, this year it has also launched the National Cyclo-cross Series, in the form of six rounds that take place in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
With 21 National Federations organising their championships in 2013-2014, and a total of 34 countries that have sent at least one athlete to the UCI World Championships for the past seven years, cyclo-cross is accelerating its internationalisation.
This trend could also affect new countries, such as Argentina, where investors have some projects on the go. This dynamic situation bodes well for the future development of cyclo-cross in South America.
The USA – from the Californian community to the 2013 Worlds
The northern part of the American continent has been won over for several years now. It can even be seen as a progressive model, as Mike Plant confirms: “Louisville, Kentucky was a great example of how the sport has developed outside of Europe. The American cyclo-cross calendar is now full of events throughout the fall and winter seasons.”
In its early phases in the USA, cyclo-cross was associated with peace and love, a philosophy that drives many current pioneers in Oceania. The first official national championships took place in 1963 in Chicago, and there was another event in 1975 in the San Francisco region. During the same period, BMX and mountain bike were represented by a community of enthusiasts in northern California.
Then came the explosion of cyclo-cross in the USA. The CrossVegas, inaugurated in 2007, was the event that set it off, soon attracting dozens of participants and more than 10,000 spectators to the circuit of the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex. Between 2005 and 2013, the number of international events taking place in the USA increased from 28 to 48. On the 2013-2014 calendar, 49 of international events organised for women will take place in the USA.
To encourage this progression, UCI awarded Louisville (Kentucky) the Cyclo-Cross World Championships 2013, the first to be organised outside of Europe. A total of 152 athletes competed to win the rainbow jersey, while the local population, in fancy dress and waving banners, was joyous and relaxed.
The training of athletes and commissaires
“Whether in the USA, in Europe, or in the rest of the world, no-one would have imagined such a boom in cyclo-cross even four years ago,” explains Peter Van den Abeele. “Our goal is that cyclo-cross reach another major milestone four years from now.”
Mike Plant confirms this view: “As the new President of the Cyclo-Cross Commission, I look forward to working with the professional teams and riders to explore those types of platforms and other ways of growing the sport, to the benefit of the key stakeholders. This will lead to enhanced interest from the media, sponsors and fans in current and new markets.”
UCI has chosen to support the progression of cyclo-cross by developing training programmes. On the occasion of the first event organised in China, a UCI international commissaire and a UCI technical delegate held a working session for twelve of the country’s national commissaires and a timekeeper.
This training programme is targeted at young talent from a variety of countries. For two years now, UCI has been offering a cyclo-cross training session to Juniors and Under-23s, in partnership with the World Cycling Centre. The progress achieved by these athletes seems to be bearing fruit: 15 of them are currently ranked in the World Cup, among whom the Czech rider Adam Toupalik, who was third in the Junior Men’s category.
Image courtesy of UCI Information Services
Wellington’s Alexander Revell, who has raced in Europe this year, claimed his first elite men’s victory in the Cyclocross National Championships
Riders were treated to chilly conditions, mud pits, dirt jumps and even snow on the course that wound through Wanaka’s Lismore Park.
Revell snatched the lead from defending champion Gary Hall (Hawke’s Bay) and held on strongly for the victory, with Wellington’s Brendon Sharratt (Wellington) third.
After a season in Belgium, known for its brutal racing conditions, Revell enjoyed the testing course today.
“It was a great course. I was kind of hoping for some mud because that’s what most of the racing I did overseas was, so that’s what I feel most comfortable on. In the end when you’re going as fast as you can and sliding around corners, whether it’s muddy or not, it’s kind of a similar thing.
“You just have to push yourself as hard as you can go and just hope that as hard as you can go is slightly harder than everyone else.”
The 28 year old, sporting his recognisable handlebar moustache that won him a loyal following overseas, took over the lead mid-way through the race after Hall crashed in the snow section.
“I wasn’t really sure how I was going to fare today,” Revell said. “Halfway through the race we were all still together so I thought ‘well it’s either going to be like this until the end or I’ve got to try and get ahead and stay ahead. I just took a chance and managed to stay ahead.”
Revell will compete in the Yanqing International Cyclocross in China next month, a UCI C2 event which has attracted some of the top riders from around the globe.
Joining him in China will be the elite women’s winner, Jenna Makgill from Auckland, who dominated after gaining a convincing early lead to finish clear from Gayle Brownlee (Auckland) and Hayley Davis (Napier).
“That was just neat. We were racing with the Masters and it would’ve been nice to keep up with the guy in front but my little heart wouldn’t permit me to do it. It was nice racing with the boys because you need people around you to push you,” Makgill said.
“The course was good, I liked it because it had jumps, which suits me, and it was very challenging. It definitely pushed you.”
Makgill, 27, who has raced in the UCI World Cup Downhill, has twice won the World Messenger Championship but is now enjoying her change to cyclocross.
“The whole fitness and endurance aspect of cyclocross is a whole new kettle of fish for me seeing as I come from a technical background. This is more of a personal challenge to test the waters.
“I’ve got an amazing opportunity to go over to China to race. I think I’ll be over my head, it will be sink or swim. I might sink but sometimes you learn to swim after you sink.“
The event also featured Masters, secondary schools and children’s categories.
Cyclocross is a cycling event which is hugely popular in Europe and is rapidly gaining in popularity in New Zealand. It features riders riding off road courses featuring obstacles such as mud, sand and jumps, with riders using adapted road-style bikes.
Dirty Deeds CX hosted today's final round of the National Cyclo-cross Series (NCXS) at the Darebin Parklands in Melbourne.
The weather conditions were fine and sunny. However, persistent rain in the weeks leading into the event meant that the circuit was incredibly muddy - something to warm the heart of all true cyclo-cross fans.
The Elite Women's race seemed to be following a familiar pattern early on with Rowena Fry and Sarah Holmes establishing a clear margin over the rest of the field. However, with three laps remaining Rowena Fry had a mechanical issue which dropped her from first back to fifth, and provided a dramatic finale to the race and indeed to the Series.
If Fry remained in fifth, and Holmes maintained her lead, Holmes would take the overall Series honours by countback. In a very tense final few minutes of racing, Sarah Holmes crossed the finish line first ahead of April McDonough and Melissa Anset. Fry was the next rider to finish, taking fourth place and confirming her standing, albeit narrowly, as the Overall 2013 National Cyclo-cross Series Champion.
As Fry commented after the race, "It was just an absolute battle out there. I had an issue with my rear derailleur which made it very difficult". Nevertheless, she was ecstatic to claim the 2013 NCXS title.
The Elite Men's event was taken out in grand style by Series leader Paul Van Der Ploeg, with newly crowned Under 23 Australian Champion Cameron Ivory taking second, and Andrew Blair in third position.
As Van Der Ploeg commented after the race, "I only live about 1km from here. It was an awesome experience to have so many friends on course cheering me on. Definitely the most fun I've ever had in a cyclo-cross event, especially after yesterday's disaster". Van Der Ploeg victory also confirmed his standing as the 2013 NCXS Overall Champion.
This final round of the 2013 National Cyclo-Cross Series was presented by Cycling Australia and Mountain Bike Australia in conjunction with Cycling Victoria and Dirty Deeds Cyclo-cross.
The podium placegetters for the Series are pictured below: 1st-Rowena Fry, 2nd-Sarah Holmes & 3rd-Melissa Anset.
Elite Women's Result
Elite Men's Result
Image Gallery (Brian Mangano)
One hundred and forty riders converged on Cranwell Park in Melbourne's western suburbs on Saturday to contest the inaugural Cycling Australia Cyclo-cross National Championships.
Weather conditions were ideal, with barely a cloud in sight and very little wind, however, persistent rain in Melbourne during the week left the purpose-built course was quite muddy and slippery. These conditions combined with a very hilly and technical course tested the fitness and skill levels of all riders.
The elite women's national title was taken out by Victoria's Lisa Jacobs, who despite claiming the 2012 National Cyclo-cross Series (NCXS), her Cyclo-cross results had been quite modest this season.
"I got sick at the start of the year and missed the first two rounds of the NCXS and was no longer in the running for that," explained Jacobs. "Therefore, my coach (Donna Rae Szalinski) and I put together a program to nail the Nationals instead and it worked.
"I'm ecstatic," Jacobs added.
2013 NCXS leader Rowena Fry took the silver medal, with Melissa Anset pocketing the bronze.
The elite men's event loomed on paper as a very even field, and that is exactly how it unfolded, with six different race leaders at various stages during the sixty minute event - Garry Milburn, Sid Taberlay, Paul Van Der Ploeg, Peter Hatton, Adrian Jackson and Allan Iacuone.
However, Iacuone forged clear of his competition in the final fifteen minutes of racing to record a comprehensive victory which gave the Victorian his second Australian title after claiming the Australian road title in 1994.
"I fell in love with Cyclo-cross two years ago," remarked Iacuone. "I was always hoping that I could win the national title, but never really thought I could.
"It's just amazing. I'm speechless!," he added.
Second place was taken by a very gallant Adrian Jackson and third to Nick Both who charged through the field in the final stages.
The Cyclo-cross action continues in Melbourne on Sunday at the Darebin Parklands, where Dirty Deeds Cyclo-cross will host the fifth and final round of the 2013 National Cyclo-cross Series.
The action kicks off at 10am, with the Elite Women and Elite Men taking centre stage at 2:10pm and 3:10pm respectively.
The Cyclo-Cross National Championships are presented by Cycling Australia and Mountain Bike Australia in conjunction with Cycling Victoria.
Cyclo-cross National Championships: NCXS Home
Cyclo-cross National Series: CXNATS Home
Image copyright Joshua Nicholson
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