How to watch European cyclocross – with videos from this weekend
It’s that time of year again, when there are at least two cyclocross races every weekend at the highest European level, and it can get a bit bewildering, trying to follow it all. So I’m here to tell you how I follow the women’s races, and just as importantly, which ones I prioritise.
I first got into the muddy, brilliant, exciting, insane sport of cyclcocross because of Caroline, aka tgsgirl. We used to hang out on the BBC 606 cycling forum, and gs’ passion for it made me HAVE to watch it to see what it’s all about. One of the great things gs does is write a cyclocross calendar on Podium Café, with really funny descriptions of each race that I base my viewing choices around (I mean, the races start at 2pm, I can’t spend EVERY weekend day glued to the laptop!). So I always check in with that to decide what to watch. The races I’m going to do my best not to miss this year are the Koksijde World Cup on 23rd November (the one on the sand-dunes), Scheldecross on 7th December (off-camber fun, and I always hope the Schelde will flood), the Namur World Cup on 22nd December (steep and technical, on the beautiful Namur citadel) and of course, the World Championships on 1st February 2014.
But how will I watch it?
There are three big series in European CX – the UCI World Cup, the SuperPrestige and the bpost bank trofee. All the races have their own prize pots and prestige, but there are also series prizes – worked out by points based on finishing position for the WC and SP, and this year on accumulated time gaps for the bpost trofee. The World Cup is limited to the number of riders per country (so fewer Belgian men) and the others aren’t. And there are different ways to watch them.
The UCI World Cup
In the past it’s been very, very frustrating, trying to watch the World Cup, because it was only shown on Belgian tv channel Sporza, which geo-restricts broadcast. This year, you can still watch it on Sporza if you’re in Belgium, but for everyone else, the UCI are being *AMAZING* and streaming both the women’s and the men’s races live on their youtube, with commentary in English, and then leaving them archived up there. This is such a huge move, and really, really helps grow the international audience – long may it last! The livestream will appear on the UCI youtube a few days before (scroll down to the CX section) – and here are the first two rounds of the 2013/14 World Cup:
For information about the series, rankings, results and articles, the World Cup page on the UCI website is a good place to start. You can also find videos and clips on the Sporza videozone… look under the bpost trofee info for that. In addition to their videozone, Sporza have a CX Match Center, where they put up the livestreams and graphics for the live World Cups (Wereldbeker/WB) and bpost trofee races, with graphics and stuff – click on each race that’s happened afterwards and you’ll find lots of little videos and articles and useful/fun information.
SuperPrestige is the next level down, if you like. The men’s races are streamed live, but there are only highlights from the women’s and the u23 and junior men’s races, which are usually shown just before the men’s races. It’s shown on Belgian tv channel Vier.be, and the stream is non-georestricted.
The streaming happens from this page, and they have a lot of videos archived on their site too. If you don’t read Dutch, “Samenvatting” is the highlights clips – eg this one from the weekend’s marvellous Zonhoven race (the huge sandpit is the highlight of one of the most gorgeous courses of the season), “Laatste Ronde” is the entire last lap of each race (eg Zonhoven again), “Beloften” are the u23 men and “Vrouwen” are the women’s races, for example the clips from the women’s race at the first SuperPrestige of the season, Ruddervoorde.
The Vier cyclocross page has links to photos and videos and so on, and the SuperPrestige website has startlists, classifications and all kinds of other information. And Sporza have clips after the races on their videozone too.
bpost bank trofee
The third series is where we have to get creative. These ones are only shown on Sporza, who aren’t allowed to open their streams, because of the rights issues (insane, as no one else is showing them). But luckily there are sites that help us find streams – I use Procyclinglive and Sports-livezz as my top resources. But I also am always watching the races and chatting about them on the Podium Café livethreads, and people always share their resources. Check out the Podium Café frontpage, or the Cyclocross section, on the day of the races, and check out the comments (come and join us there too! We are more than happy to answer ANY question about the sport!)
As with the World Cup, Sporza also has their Match Center for CX, which includes bpost trofee races – live graphics on the front page and pages for each race. Once the races are done, Sporza puts up clips of them on their videozone. Here’s the cyclocross page – “Veldrijden” means cyclocross, WB or “Wereldbeker” is the World Cup (WK is World Champs). if you scroll down they have 2 sections for the World Cup information, and at the bottom, columns for the Worlc Cup, SuperPrestige and bpost trofee. They have lots of bpost videos there – for example the last round of last week’s Koppenbergcross men’s race, and the very small clip of the junior & u23 men and the women’s race. Unfortunately the bpost trofee gives us the least video of the women, so don’t get too excited there. And if you click on each race on the Match Center, the videos are in a different form, with articles and such from each race – here’s the Koppenbergcross Match Center.
For links to the individual race pages, which have video galleries, results etc and for the overall standings, head to the bpost bank trofee page.
As I said before, I love the Podium Café cyclocross section, with articles and race previews and things like broerie’s “Newbie guide to Cyclocross” and Douglas and gs’ Q&A last year. The community is super-friendly, and we love converting new fans!
For another take on the season, with a description of who’s who on the women’s and men’s side, head to the VeloRooms 2013/14 preview.
In the past, Petitesreines have made some really nice home-made videos from races, with lots of backstage and atmosphere shots. I don’t know if they’ll be doing it this year, but I always keep an eye out.
I am completely in love with the cyclocross photography of Balínt Hamvas, on his site Cyclephotos. It’s not just his photography (although I seriously adore that), it’s also his stories from the races, and his twitter, where he posts photos as the races happen – and he’s great for giving live information about the women’s races. For the last two years he’s put together a book at the end of each season, with his photos and gs’ words – here’s the 2012/13 book, the one from 2011/12 and smaller one from 2009/10. Buy them as the perfect present for yourself or the CX fan in your life!
For other live results of the women’s races, I follow Andre Meganck on twitter – he’s one the Sporza cycling producers, and he’s very, very good.
The cyclocross-specific websites I use are Cyclocross Magazine and CyclingDirt. They have lots of articles and information on European and USA cyclocross scenes – and there’s the Cyclocross section of Cyclingnews and lots of good articles on VeloNation – here are articles on Helen Wyman winning the 2013 European Cyclocross Championships on CX Mag and on VeloNation.
Finally, some of the best coverage of women’s CX comes from the riders themselves – here’s a post I wrote last year about the social media from women on the Euro scene and from the USA CX women. Dan and I podcast interviewed Helen Wyman last year, and Helen has a great blog about her amazing last week, winning Koppenbergcross for the third time, and the European CX Championships for the second year in a row (here’s a photo of Helen winning, and a photo of Annefleur Kalvenhaar winning the first ever u23 women’s Euro Champs – with more photos from the races via the slider beneath them). If you want to follow them on twitter, I have a list of riders’ accounts that I’ll add to as I go.