Thursday, 18 September 2008

The finish is by the burnt out car.

'The finish is by the burnt out car', was the instruction given to the riders at the last cross I went to, needless to say it wasn't in the bit of Europe across the water. Where finishes are more likely to be next to beer tents, so much more class in Belgium I always thought. In the UK the first mud baths of the season are getting under way and soon the big UCI events will be kicking off across the continent.
New teams, riders moving about and new beer tents make the coming season just as exciting as it always is.
Sometimes people stop me in the street and ask me to stop following them, sometimes they stop me in the street and ask me why I love cyclo cross so much, so here are the top reasons to go and watch a cross race across the water.

1. Beer tent, once upon a time races used to go through the beer tent, it was stopped allegedly because the fans were getting too rowdy, I suspect is the real reason was that by the time the final circuit was due most of the riders had climbed off and were now on the piss.

2. It's very, very, very hard. We all like to see some poor sap suffering on a bike, why else do we go to races? But in cross not only do they have to suffer on the bike, you get to see em carry the bikes up steeply daft hills.

3. The riders crash a lot - and you can enjoy it without feeling guilty. See a rider crash out on the road or the track and it looks painful see a rider go over the bars and face first into a swamp is as funny as seeing Hein Verbruggen fall down the stairs. (well OK maybe not that funny, I doubt if anything could be, but it's pretty rib tickling none the less).

4. Small teams don't have the win at all cost mentality of big ones and cross is full of little teams, oh sure there are the 'big' boys who are likely to win, but there are plenty there who seem just to be in it for the craic.

Look, Fidea are the worlds top cross team and this is what they have in their team bus! How good is that!!!

Hang on, I'll just get the crystal ball out and predict the future. Wait, the clouds are clearing and I see 2 monthly cycling publications, someone is opening them and wait, it can't be, it is wall to bloody wall Lance Armstrong.
I don't think you need a crystal ball to predict the next months ProCycling and Cycle Sport will be crammed cover to cover with the return of Lance, lets face it there's hardly been a month since he jacked it in that he hasn't appeared in one or the other of the UK 'premier monthly bicycle racing publications'. 'Lance running a marathon', 'Lance not running a marathon', 'Bruyneel on how he misses Lance', 'Lance on how he misses Bruyneel', 'Lance - a look back at the tour wins', 'The tour without Lance', 'Absolutely nothing about Lance this month, whoops we've just said Lance, so here's a picture of him', 'Great photos of Lance that you've seen a hundred times before', 'Blah, blah, blah' .

Over on the web has predicted that lance won't be riding for Columbia. Great, so here are my predictions of who Lance won't be riding for, 100% ME, Rapha Condor, Team Halfords Bikehut, or Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner, which is a shame as Sven Nys is going there, I think Lance would be good at cross, remember Paul Sherwen wetting himself when Lance rode across a bloody field, why? It was not, as Sherwen said 'the greatest bit of bike handling ever' it was a bloke on a bike riding across a field. (Incidentally just how many times a tour does one or the other of ITV4's dynamic duo say 'I've never seen anything like this before'?).
Now Lance jumping off his bike for a few beers n the beer tent - that would be news.

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