The cyclocross season ramps up this October as the top riders in the off-road winter discipline build toward the ultimate goal of winning the UCI Cyclocross World Championships.
It may be some weeks before road stars Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel or world champion Tom Pidcock take to the fields, but the top specialists have already started racing the United States with the first two World Cup rounds in Waterloo and Fayetteville.
The UCI Cyclocross World Cup is the top series and has expanded to 14 races for the 2022-2023 season. Last year’s winners of the overall World Cup were Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) and Lucinda Brand (Baloise Trek Lions).
Other major race series include the Superprestige and X2O Badkamers Trofee and other national race series such as the USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar, the British National Trophy Series, and the Toi Toi Cup in the Czech Republic.
2022-2023 UCI Cyclocross World Cup Schedule
|9-Oct-2022||UCI World Cup Waterloo||ME/WE|
|Winners:||Eli Iserbyt||Fem Van Empel|
|16-Oct-2022||UCI World Cup Fayetteville||ME/WE|
|Winners:||Eli Iserbyt||Fem Van Empel|
|23-Oct-2022||UCI World Cup Tabor||ME/WE/MU/WJ/MJ|
|30-Oct-2022||UCI World Cup Maasmechelen||ME/WE/MU/WJ/MJ|
|13-Nov-2022||UCI World Cup Beekse Bergen||ME/WE|
|20-Nov-2022||UCI World Cup Overijse||ME/WE|
|27-Nov-2022||UCI World Cup Hulst||ME/WE|
|4-Dec-2022||UCI World Cup Antwerp||ME/WE|
|11-Dec-2022||UCI World Cup Dublin||ME/WE|
|17-Dec-2022||UCI World Cup Val di Sole||ME/WE|
|26-Dec-2022||UCI World Cup Gavere||ME/WE|
|8-Jan-2023||UCI World Cup Zonhoven||ME/WE/MU/WJ/MJ|
|22-Jan-2023||UCI World Cup Benidorm||ME/WE/MU/WJ/MJ|
|29-Jan-2023||UCI World Cup Besançon||ME/WE/MU/WJ/MJ|
2022-2023 Superprestige Cyclocross Schedule
|6-Nov-2022||European Championships Namur||ME/WE/MJ|
|27-Dec-2022||Superprestige Heusden Zolder||ME/WE/MJ|
2022-2023 X2O Badkamers Trofee Schedule
|1-Jan-2023||X20 GP Sven Nys||ME/WE/MU|
USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar
|17-Sep-2022||Go Cross Roanoke C1|
|18-Sep-2022||Go Cross Roanoke C2|
|25-Sep-2022||USPCX Rochester C1|
|26-Sep-2022||USPCX Rochester C2|
|7-Oct-2022||Trek Cup C1|
|14-Oct-2022||OZ Cross C1|
|22-Oct-2022||Kings CX C1|
|23-Oct-2022||Kings CX C2|
|29-Oct-2022||Major Taylor Cross Cup C2|
|30-Oct-2022||Major Taylor Cross Cup C2|
|5-Nov-2022||Really Rad CX C1|
|6-Nov-2022||Really Rad CX C2|
|12-Nov-2022||Northampton International C2|
|3-Nov-2022||Northampton International C2|
|19-Nov-2022||North Carolina GP C2|
Cyclocross is one of the nine cycling disciplines recognized by the UCI, who sanction the major international events. The races typically take place during the winter and, because they involve bike-handling skills and running in addition to cycling, were originally seen as a cross-training exercise for road racers.
Riders are split into categories – men and women have elite, under-23 and junior races at the World Championships – but sometimes elite fields may combine under-23-year-old riders with the elite field. One category of riders start the course together and race to be the first to complete the specified number of laps.
Cyclocross is a bit like the steeplechase in athletics: riders compete over laps on a closed circuit – typically surrounded by thousands of beer-drinking fans – and must cross obstacles such as wooden planks (known as barriers), steep drops and sharp climbs, some of which force riders off their bikes to run. The races also might include sand pits, roots and mud, treacherous off-camber sections or even ice and snow.
During the laps, riders can swap bikes if they have a mechanical, need a clean bike, different tyres, tyre pressure or even a new show by entering the nearest mechanical zone (“pits”), where teams wait as riders approach, ready to quickly hand a new bike to their riders and catch their discarded one.
Each race is designated a time rather than distance, with the number of laps determined by the race pace. Officials will estimate how many laps riders need to complete to fill the published race time – typically 50 minutes to an hour – and will post the laps remaining at the finish line.
What kind of bike is best for cyclocross?
The UCI rules limit bikes for cyclocross to drop-bars, road-style frames and tyres of a maximum of 34mm so over the years, specialized cyclocross frames emerged. In the years before the advent of disc brakes and gravel bikes, the best cyclocross bikes had cantilever brakes and wide clearances to help keep mud from clogging up the spaces between tyre and frame.
Rim brakes have now been replaced by disc brakes, but the wide tyre clearance of ‘cross bikes inspired the evolution of gravel bikes, with the former set up for rapid turns and fast accelerations, while the latter tends more toward comfort and straight-line handling.
What kind of tyres are best for cyclocross?
The best cyclocross tyre depends on the conditions, but tubulars are the go-to for most professionals and Dugast are the cream of the crop, although more options have come available in recent years. Tubeless are another solid option, but clinchers are generally eschewed because for the best grip in cyclocross races, riders run low tyre pressures that would lead to punctures with an inner tube. There is a fair bit of overlap between the best cyclocross tyres and best gravel tyres.