While I waxed lyrically about the various virtues of a cyclocross race in part two of Breakaway meets Koksijde I let slip an idea that I am rather taken by. Not the patisserie guidebook dedicated to bringing the whereabouts and ratings of patisserie closest to French borders and ports but instead the idea of a cyclocross stage race. I know it sounds like nonsense and I admit it isn’t ready for proposal to the UCI, but if you give me a chance, I think it might just have legs.
During the summer I, like many enthusiastic fans of our wonderful two wheeled sport, find myself planning my calendar around various stages of each of the three grand tours. Whether that be because of a particularly tough summit finish or indeed a day poised for breakaway glory and an enthralling battle for the GC. These stages more often than not prove to be somewhat predictable and so summer after summer, I somehow manage to maintain a social life, ride my bike and of course get some writing done. However, there are always some dreaded days in the three grand tours where nothing ever happens. The ‘transition’ stage, the ‘predicted crosswinds that never blow’ stage or just the ‘everyone in the bunch is completely exhausted and wants a ‘chilled’ stage’ stage. If you’ve ever popped corn for a day spectating such a stage as i’ve described and halfway through realised your just listening to the same boring chat from commentators who themselves have forgotten what they’re meant to be doing then you’ll hopefully see why my ludicrous suggestion of the CX stage race makes any sense.
With cx races already being short, punchy and full of excitement I propose a stage race where there are two races each day. Therefore eliminating the dull as dishwater grand tour stage mentioned above. Happening over three days it would be similar to its track cousin the 6 day but with more dirt and probably take place in the day, probably. There could be, for example, a hill climb run in the morning of the first day, which would seed the field for a 1 lap qualifying in the afternoon. The fastest ‘hill climb bike on shoulder runner’ taking to the start line first for qualifying so they would have the best course conditions.
Then the second day would feature an elimination style race like seen in the velodrome, in the morning, the starting positions would have been decided on the previous days combined aggregate time, otherwise known as the cyclocross general classification, or the CXGC. The winner of the elimination race would subsequently receive a time bonus. The afternoon of the second day would feature a team time trial relay which in turn could influence the CXGC with the third day being the ultimate finale. A shorter madison style points race would be completed in the morning and once the carnage of an off camber sand pit handsling has abated a more conventional but ever so hard 1 hour bunch race as is usual for a CX weekend would ensue, except this time with some very tired legs after a tough 2 and a half days.
The finer details are yet to be decided but I think there should be mixed teams wherever possible and certainly equal prize money for men and women. In fact scrap prize money let us instead congratulate the winners with an overall prize of an absurdly large quantity of the regions signature food as is customary in the Tour of the Fjords where the winner of the KOM competition takes home 500 kgs of Norwegian Salmon.
If this all sounds totally loopy and something you or the current crop of riders would hate to see then you need not worry as at the moment my voice doesn’t travel very far in the UCI ‘what to try next’ meetings and I can’t imagine it ever will if this goes to print!