Here in the UK, December 26th is “Boxing Day”, a public holiday that’s so-called because in Victorian times it was the day people traditionally gave gifts (boxes of gifts) to the tradespeople who served them all year – the milkmen, butchers, fishmongers etc etc who’d bring them their food (back in the days when it was more door-to-door sales than going to shops). If you celebrate Christmas, it’s the day you recover from over-indulgence in food, or seeing too much family – if you don’t, it’s either deep mid-winter, and cold and grey, or full-on midsummer, in which case lucky you! But over in Belgium, 26th December has a whole different tradition – just like New Year’s Day, they celebrate hangover days with CYCLOCROSS!!!! and Boxing Day with Heusden-Zolder.
This year it’s the fifth round of the CX World Cup, and this is how my good friend tgsgirl describes it, in her Podium Café winter Cyclocross Calendar:
The second world cup leg in under a week – we’re definitely in the Holy Cx Week now. Heusden-Zolder is always raced on Boxing Day and takes place on and around the Zolder racetrack. Which, by the way, is where Mario Cipollini became world champ, for which I apologise in the name of my province. Zolder is raced through a somewhat hilly pine forest, and there’s a few turns around a small chapel called the Stiltekapel – or the silent chapel. There’s no noise allowed around it, so there are no spectators in that part of the race. That must be special for the cyclists.
And given it’s a World Cup, we can watch the women and the men race live, courtesy of the live stream on the UCI Youtube channel – it starts on Friday at 13:30 European CET (12:30pm UK GMT; 7:30am USA EST; 11:30pm Aus AEDT)
If you click there and can’t see the ticker (or race) it could be because it’s restricted in your country due to it being shown on tv or streamed in your country somewhere – so check out the UCI tv guide.
The men’s race starts at 15:00 CET (2pm GMT; 9am EST; 1am Saturday AEDT) and the UCI English-language live feed will be here – and you can also find Flemish streams in the usual places – for example, this stream.
There’s a course map and other useful information on the race website, and you can follow the race twitter and facebook. There’s more about the race on the UCI’s CX World Cup portal, including current standings and startlists when they’re ready. And you can follow the cyclocross women as they prepare for the race, through my twitter list. And if you want to know about one of the top stars in the sport, check out this Behind The Barriers video interview with Katie Compton.
Good luck to all the riders – and huge thanks for sacrificing your Christmas day to race hard and entertain us. Same goes for Superprestige Diegem on Sunday, bpost Azencross on 30th December, and whatever muddy hell is waiting for us on New Year’s Day. I LOVE THIS SPORT!!!