The rise and rise of cyclo-cross

Experts from the increasingly popular discipline discuss its success and what the future may hold

Knobbly tyres, cow bells, mud, waffles and beer – winter has arrived and the ‘cross season is in full swing, with the world’s elite riders preparing to tackle one of the most famous courses on the circuit this weekend – the sandy hell of Koksijde.

Among the ‘cross stars on show in Belgium, for the third round of the UCI Track World Cup season, will be British champion Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) – who told RCUK the unique course is among her favourites.

Nikki Harris, national champion, Great Britain, climb, UCI cyclo-cross world cup, Valkenburg, pic: Balint Hamvas
National champion Nikki Harris and compatriot Helen Wyman, pictured at this year’s opening World Cup race in Valkenburg, are leading the way for British ‘cross riders at elite level (pic: Balint Hamvas)

Harris is one of a handful of British stars on the elite circuit, and has enjoyed a successful start to the season with a victory apiece in the Bpost Bank Trofee and Superprestige and a host of podium places to complement them.

Compatriot, and former seven-time national champion, Helen Wyman (Kona Factory) won her second successive European Championship this year as well as winning the prestigious Koppenbergcross.

Harris and Wyman’s performances, alongside a strong showing from Gabriella Durrin (Rapha Focus), have led Great Britain to the top of the elite women’s world rankings while male compatriot Ian Field (Hargrove Cycles) is enjoying his best season to date in the men’s competition.

It is not just on the elite scene Britain is establishing a foothold on the ‘cross scene though – with the sport enjoying a surge in popularity on these shores too.

We caught up with Field, former National Trophy Series winner Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Racing), and industry insiders Oli Pepper, of Morvelo, and James Booth, of Specialized, to discuss the impact the sport is having on the UK scene.

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Bunch riding, Mallorca 2013, Pic: Paul Hayes-Watkins, ©Team IG-Sigma Sport

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