Balint Hamvas clocked up over 6,000 miles travelling to all nine rounds of the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup this winter, taking his camera with him, and the visual treat of this impressive photo book is the result.
Czech Zdenek Stybar is the rightful cover star after a stunning season where, in addition to winning the UCI World Cup, he won the Super Prestige series and also the rainbow jersey by dominating the world championship race on home soil (or should that be home snow?).
Hamvas is a Hungarian photographer who, after moving to London a year ago, took on the challenge of capturing the colour and spectacle of a UCI world series that many cyclists know very little about. We move from the dry, dusty conditions of round one in Treviso, Italy in September through the differing weather and conditions experienced by ‘cross racers in what was one of the coldest winters in Europe for decades. Snow arrived before Christmas for round six in Kalmthout, Belgium, and Hamvas has selected many dramatic images showing the drive and determination needed to race at this level through the winter months.
The majority of the hundred-plus colour images are action shots, but there are also podiums, portraits of riders (and fans) and a smattering of candid and ‘behind the scenes’ photographs such as Erwin Vervecken (the three-time world champion who retired this season) talking to his supporters through the window of his mobile home/transporter.
Refreshingly, the elite women’s races are given equal space in the book for the seven rounds that they contested.
There is a brief commentary of events at each round, in English, Dutch and Czech, and top 10 results along with the progression of the overall series standings. The result in both categories went right down to the final round in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, where Dutch champion Daphny Van Den Brand secured the women’s title.
Balint is a recent convert to the joys of cyclo-cross: “I had the chance to see a World Cup race live and boy, was it brilliant. It felt like the Formula-1 of cycling: you see the riders throughout the race; the pace is unbelievably intense and the crowd go crazy every time their favourite rider whizzes past.”
Professional cyclo-cross remains largely ignored in English language racing magazines so this is a rare opportunity for ‘cross fans to feed their hunger and adorn their coffee tables.
UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup: season 2009/2010 by Balint Hamvas, softback, £17.99
Illustrated by 122 colour photographs.
Available from Condor Cycles, 49-53 Grays Inn Road, London and direct from the photographer at www.cyclephotos.co.uk/book priced at €20