I love cyclocross – ever since tgsgirl first told me about this muddy, sadistic, crazy, beautiful sport, it’s intrigued me and made me very happy. And one of the reasons is the way the riders engage with fans, and all the fabulous social media we get. Riders don’t just race these exhausting, exhilarating races – they tell us all about it. So it’s time for another episode of my women’s cycling social media series, this time looking at the CX riders who give us a fantastic insight into the sport. I’ll be running this over a couple of posts, so don’t get annoyed if I’ve missed your favourite rider here – and there will be some links at the bottom to help you follow the women’s racing online – starting with how to see video from the races…
I can’t start anywhere else than with one of my absolute superstars of cycling and social media, Helen Wyman. She’s the current European Champion, has won the justifiably-iconic Koppenbergcross twice, and the British national championship seven times. All that’s impressive, but she combines it with one of the very best cycling social media presences anywhere in cycling, men’s or women’s. I’ll tell you more about her in a moment, but first of all, here’s a video of her winning the Euros, courtesy of Petitesreines… and more on them, and how to watch women’s CX races, below!
So why do I like Helen so much? Well, let’s start with her twitter, where she’s very, very funny, and seems willing to chat with pretty much any of her many fans who ask her anything. She’s super-friendly, and her personality shines through – as well as giving us a great insight into what it’s like to be a rider on both the CX circuit, but also when she rides road, for Kona, and for her husband, Stef Wyman’s team, Matrix-Prendas. Then, there are her blogs on her beautifully-made website, where she tells her stories with panache, whether it’s sharing the good times or the bad times. And finally, she’s one of those fantastic cyclists who is happy to talk to fans. I interviewed her for Podium Café twice in 2010, before and after she won her first Koppenbergcross, and in 2011 on her trip to the USA, and she drew pictures especially for Café readers (Look! And look!) and you can see all kinds of fan videos that she’s been in – you can find a lot of them on the video page of her website, but I really like this one from this year’s Charm City CX, this one on the popularity of CX in the UK, and there’s another lovely one below.
I have to mention Marianne Vos, as she’s the queen of cyclocross, the five-times CX World Champion, because she’s always got fantastic social media… but she’s already come up once or twice in this series already, so next I’ll look to the rider who could be her biggest rival for the 2013 rainbow stripes, especially with the race on her home soil….
Katie Compton – Trek Cyclocross Collective
Katie Compton, or as she’s known by her twitter handle, KatieFnCompton, is the USA rider currently dominating the CX World Cup. Her twitter is full of banter between her and her husband, MrKatieCompton, but it’s a way to see what it’s like to be an American racing abroad. She started out racing track, and was a Para-Cycling pilot in the tandem races, winning 2 golds in the 2004 Paralympics, piloting for Karissa Whitsell – and she also competes in MTB in the summer.
Her website has disappeared for the moment, but I keep checking back to see if it’s back yet (I’d include the team page, but I’m having a funny 5 minutes and can’t find it – if you have links, add them to the comments, and I’ll edit them in).
It’s well worth following her, as she prepares for the CX World Champs in the USA in February – check out her interview on the Louisville 2013 site – and if you are in the USA, and want to see Vos v Compton in real life, buy your tickets here!
One rider who knows all about becoming World Champion is the first ever CX World Champ, Hanka Kupfernagel. She’s not just a heroine of women’s cycling in terms of her amazing palmares across road, track, MTB and CX, with 4 CX rainbow jerseys, including the first ever women’s title in 2000 and the 2008 World ITT Champ’s jersey. But her wins are only part of the story – she was one of the women who had to fight just to race CX in the first place, back in the ’90s, when it was seen as “tough hard” for women. She was involved in so much work to get a women’s World Cup, World Champs, prize money at races, and so much more – she truly is a superstar of the sport. Apparently she’s working on writing a book about her experiences and rivalries, and I really hope that’s true – and that it comes out in English, so I can read it!
Check out her website, in German and in English – and follow her twitter, because again, she’s very friendly and accessible to fans. Such a star, and yet so friendly and willing to chat to fans! She definitely set a template for CX, and I will always cheer for her, wherever she races.
Christel Ferrier-Bruneau – Hitec Product-Mistral Home
Ferrier-Bruneau isn’t just a great rider on road, MTB and cyclocross, she’s also fantastic to follow, on her website and on twitter. Her news reports (for CX and for road racing) are always fun to read (they’re in French, so I tend to rely on the google translate gnomes) – I love her honesty, and her insights into what it’s like to race at this level.
She seems really happy to get involved in fan-based coverage too – for example, these video interviews – and there’s a great half-hour video profile of her from the fantastic PetitesReines… and more on them later!
Sanne Cant (Veldritacademie Enertherm-BKCP) and Sanne van Paassen (Rabobank)
Belgium dominates men’s cyclocross, but on the women’s side, it’s the Dutch and the British this year, with Katie Compton. Although Daphny van den Brand has retired (and is expecting her first baby – congratulations, Daphny!), there is a plethora of Dutch talent to battle Vos at the Dutch National Championships – with Vos’ Rabobank team-mate Sanne van Paassen leading the charge. So far this season, the 24-year-old Van Paassen has won the Tabor World Cup (I loved this photo of her crossing the line ahead of Compton) and SuperPrestige Hamme-Zogge – and her huge smile has graced the podiums of many more races, including the European Championships. She’s definitely taken a step up, and it’ll be fun to see what she does next.
The other Sanne, Sanne Cant, is doing a damn good job of showing Belgium that it’s not just the boys who can race. She’s at her best on the sand, as her bronze medal at the 2012 Koksijde Worlds and her win at this year’s SuperPrestige Zonhoven proved – but she’s formidable on the mud, too. Her win at Leuven this weekend broke her run of third places – she’ll be fighting hard for more of those wins, you can be sure – and at just 22, she’s got a lot of time ahead of her.
Neither of the Sannes have websites (yet, I hope!) but follow those links and you’ll find their twitters – and follow them there!
How to see video of women’s cyclocross races
As with all women’s cycling, following the races can be an act of love – but there are some video sources out there that will make your lives easier. As with every kind of women’s racing, I always start with Cycling Fever’s video section – they collect every kind of women’s cycling footage they can get their hands on, and are always the best resource.
The best video, from my point of view, is produced by fans. I’ve mentioned Petitesreines as someone to follow for great video before, and I always love their CX vids, for their mix of “backstage” atmosphere and race footage. It really gives a great perspective into what it’s like to be there as a fan. If I had the money, I’d pay them to go to every race, but in the meantime I follow the Petitesreines vimeo stream avidly. Here’s their video from the sandy, spectacular Koksijde World Cup:
The thing about cyclocross is that there are three major series of races running throughout the year. The SuperPrestige series is shown on Belgian tv station Vier.be, who stream the races live without a geo-restriction (thanks Vier!) and have a great cyclocross portal, and a lot of videos from each 2012/13 race on their video page. If you don’t speak Dutch, “vrouwen” means “women”, and you’ll easily be able to find the highlights clips of the races – and if you want to see races from previous years, check out the CX video pages from Vier’s previous incarnation, VT4.be.
The other two series, the CX World Cup and the BPost Bank Trofee (formerly known as the GVA Trophee) are shown on Belgian super-sports-channel, Sporza. They have been mixed this year – with a fabulous 25 minutes of clips from some women’s races, then nothing at all from others – so it’s important to click through on any Sporza womne’s vids you see. Click through to their videozone, click “sporten” for the sports menus, then “wielrennen” for cycling, and have a look at what videos they have there – or start from their cycling portal.
Very occasionally, some of the World Cup videos pop up on the UCI youtube account too, so it’s worth checking out. Here’s their Roubaix World Cup clip:
As always, lots of random video pops up all over youtube, from very basic fan-produced video on the sidelines, to some much more professional ones. I like this one from Koksijde: “Cyclocross Koksijde also for women“
Of course, the best thing to do if you see CX videos to to share them as widely as possible – and I’d love it if you shared things you enjoyed in the comments right here, or pointed me to them on twitter, where I’m @_pigeons_. I’ll be back soon with more CX social media – next up is having a look at the USA racing – riders, coverage and more.