Well actually it’s the 2nd, but I thought up the concept for this post on the 1st. The first Sunday in February* is a special day in the world of cycling. It is the day that the World Cyclocross Championships are held and it is also the day of the Grand Prix Cycliste la Marseillaise (l’Ouverture), which for me marks the beginning of the Road Race season. I know there have been races going on in the Southern Hemisphere for weeks now, but in some things I am a traditionalist, and since at least 1980 this has been the first European race of the year, so for me it still marks the opening of the season and the promise that spring is on the way.
A distinctly un-spring like Tabor in The Czech Republic hosted this years Cyclocross championships. There were four races; Junior men, Under-23 men, Elite men and Elite women.
They were all pretty good races, but the Elite Women’s race was a classic. With half a lap to go any one of five riders could have won, in fact it was only right toward the end that the eventual winner Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Sanne Cant pulled away to fight out the final sprint to the line. The video below shows the highlights;
Click here to watch the full race it is worth it.
From the woman who finished 7th;
After that the Elite Men’s race was, well not a let down, but didn’t quite equal the women’s race for excitement. The highlights are below;
Again if you want to watch the full race click here.
Mathieu van der Poel who won the race is the youngest ever winner. He is a few days past his twentieth birthday. He is also the first person to follow in his fathers tyre tracks. His father Adri van der Poel won the World championships in 1996. His cycling pedigree is impressive. His maternal grandfather is the great French cyclist of the 60’s and 70’s Raymond Poulidor.
The average age of the podium for the Elite men’s race was lower than that of the Under 23 race. The silver medal winner Wout Van Aert isn’t much older than the winner. The bronze medal winner Lars van der Haar at 23 was the old man of the set.
Videos of all the races plus a few more can be seen on YouTube at the UCI Channel
Pim Lighart, who rides for Lotto-Soudal, won the GP Cycliste la Marseillaise The video below (sort of) shows the final sprint.
*Sometimes it can be the last Sunday in January.