Cover image: @digidavesphotos 

Cyclo-cross might not be familiar to everyone. Seen as a mix of road cycling and mountain biking but ridden on a road bike with grippier tyres, oh and takes part on a course with obstacles. For those old enough to remember, it might sound like a round of ‘It’s a Knockout’ but for the first time the British National Cyclo-cross Championships will be held in Sussex this weekend, January 8th & 9th. The Ardingly Showground will be the setting for some fiercely contested racing with National Jerseys up for grabs. 

Podium Shrewsbury
Image: Andy Whitehouse

The defending women’s Champion Hattie Harnden and Zoe Backstedt, the current Junior Women’s World Road Race Champion are just two amongst a host of the sport’s big names who are down to start the senior races. Over 700 riders will contest the different categories over the weekend. 

The event is hosted by the local cycling club, Crawley Wheelers. They have hosted rounds of the HSBC UK National Trophy series for the last two years but will step up to host the pinnacle event of the cross season.  

With 8 category races on Saturday and 4 on Sunday, there will be plenty of action. Ranging from Boys and Girls Under 14 races through Junior, Senior levels and up to Veteran 60+, all levels are catered for. Cross is a great spectator sport; races last a maximum of one hour, so the action comes thick and fast. 

Image: Crawley Wheelers

New Features

To increase the rider challenge and make the racing even more exciting, the organisers have included new course features. In their own words, ‘we have taken our legendary National Trophy course and spiced it up! There’s something for everyone: Fast tarmac and gravel straights, grassy chicanes and hot dog turns, the Quarry off-camber and steep hills, the camber descent, hurdles, sand school and a new big bridge.’ 

In other sports the weather can have a detrimental effect on the action, in cross, it only gets better. Still not convinced, for spectators it is free. Don’t worry if you can’t make it person, GCN and Eurosport will be showing Sunday’s racing.

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