The rise and rise of cyclo-cross

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

So, with ‘cross enjoying a boom in popularity – in line with cycling as a whole of course – what is next for the increasingly popular discipline?

Oli Pepper, of Morvelo – one of the brains behind City Cross – believes as road cycling continues to boom in popularity, ‘cross will follow suit when riders bid to continue training or competing through the off-season.

Riders tackle the grounds of the Ally Pally at Rapha Super Cross (pic: Jonathan Hines/[email protected])

“The increase is in road cycling and I think people will come across from there,” he said. “It might be from getting a cross bike for a commute for example.

“There will also be people thinking ‘I’m enjoying doing the sportives, what can I do in winter?’ too.

“Particularly now cross bikes have discs, it is more adaptable and desirable. It is an area that should really boom in popularity.”

If ‘cross were to continue its success on these shores, however, Paul Oldham – the current British number one at domestic level – believes changes have to be made behind-the-scenes at races.

He said: “I think the next step here would be promoting it. There’s no advertising of races being on, it’s just not well publicised.

“If you were heading for an event and don’t know where it is, you certainly don’t see any signs for it. It caters for people who know about it – you don’t yet get people there who aren’t interested already.

“If people see it advertised, they might think that looks a good day, and then those people may take up the sport too.”

As for the scene itself, Ian Field believes Britain is already on the right path in the way it lends itself both to the ideas behind racing in mainland Europe, and the vastly contrasting American style.

And the back-to-back national champion hopes there will be more centralised racing on offer as organisers bid to draw in the big crowds.

“I think the UK scene is always going to be a mix of the mainland Europe and USA scene,” he said. “Not taking itself too seriously but not to the extent the Americans take things to.

“Having races in big parks is great for spectators and riders alike so hopefully more can be done to bring racing to the masses with these central locations.”

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