This weekend marked the first time in history that the UCI Cyclocross World Championships were held on US soil, and despite some potentiall major setbacks, managed to do the US Cross scene proud. Perhaps the biggest curve ball for the event organizers came when NOAA reports had the low lying sections of the venue underwater by Sunday morning thanks to a rapidly rising Ohio River. The decision was quickly made to hold all of the races and award ceremonies on Saturday, instead of Sunday which turned out to be the right decision in the end.
Thanks to the City of Louisville, KY, event organizers, and legions of devoted fans, CX Worlds 2013 lived up to the hype, resulting in a unique blend of American and European excitement and racing.
Take a photo tour after the break.
On more than one occasion leading up to the race, I overheard people saying the Belgians were questioning that there would be sufficient mud for the race. Based on the mud accumulations from practice – that froze to the bikes almost instantly in the freezing temperatures, lack of mud didn’t seem to be an issue.
It was interesting walking down the pit road while the teams were warming up – some were in trucks, others in tents, everyone trying to get warm and prepared for the race.
Scenes like this one summed up the weekend pretty well: Belgian beer, Kentucky bourbon (or moonshine) along with charcuterie born from local venison and beef. A true mixing of cultures. Sidenote – Duvel foam takes on a weird, almost whipped cream consistency when it’s 18° out.
Despite the giant food and beer tents and porta-johns all around, there were still huge lines alluding to the estimated 15,000 spectators in attendance.
Almost as good as the racing was the people watching thanks to the numerous costumes and fan clubs for various riders. Some were creative, others made you laugh, while some just left you scratching your head. It was fascinating to see so many devoted fans from other countries with custom made clothes supporting their favorite rider.
Then there was the racing. Let’s just say the fans were not disappointed as evidenced by the loudest roar from a crowd that I’ve personally ever experienced at a cycling event. Everyone in attendance was giving it their all.
Even with the decision to move everything up to Saturday, organizers still had to erect a makeshift dam to keep the water out of the lower lying parts of the venue. Considering how much of a disaster it would have been otherwise, they did a great job keeping the even from being ruined or cancelled. On Sunday morning, the side where the workers in day-glo jackets are standing was flooded validating the decision to move the race day.
Belgian Sven Nys, Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel, Netherlands’ Marianne Vos, and Dutch U23 racer Mike Theunissen top the 4 different World’s podiums. Pretty sure they wouldn’t receive custom Louisville Sluggers over in Europe! Though, seeing pro cyclists holding baseball bats was a little odd.
Finally, the presentation of the UCI flag to the host city of the 2014 CX World Championships, Hoogerheide, Netherlands.