Words and Photos by : Angus Sung
The last time I was stood in a wet muddy field on a Saturday afternoon with the sun shining down was at a music festival over 6 years ago. Since then I’ve reserved my mud-balancing act exclusively for the slopes of mountain bike trails, however it’s not every day you get to photograph some of the best cyclo-cross racers in world let alone have them deep in UK mud.
On the 29th November 2014 the CX World Cup left the well-established pastures of mainland Europe and ventured across the channel for the very first time and pitched itself in the “New City” of Milton Keynes. As this was my first time covering of a CX race I didn’t really know what to expect apart from the obvious mud and “frites” but what I didn’t expect was a crowd of 8’000 strong spectators to be tentatively making their way up to the top of the hill in Campbell Park to watch both the women’s and men’s races unfold on an incredibly tricky and technical course.
The 2.6km course snaked it’s way down and up the rutted muddy hill of the park, with plenty of off-camber sections before making it’s way to the man-made obstacles of hurdles and stairs, where you can imagine attracted plenty of “urging” from the crowd as few riders including Jeremy Powers rode up the stairs to mud drunk cheers.
With everyone seeming to be having so much fun (barring one grumpy chap who decided to wear brand white Nike Air Max) it all seem to end far to quickly, from a spectators point of view of course, but from the competitors faces I think it’s fair to say that the course was certainly tougher than anyone had expected. Sanne Cant won the Women’s Elite and Kevin Pauawels topped the men’s board.
Before the event even made its way out of mainland Europe I had heard some chatter about why it wouldn’t be as good as the races in Europe and that their wouldn’t be as big of a crowd but I think the results certainly speak for themselves. I have been to derby day football matches with crowds that are less enthusiastic as those I witness in Milton Keynes and it’s a true testimony to the UK cycling spectators as to how amazing they seem to make every event that comes to British soil. I’m glad I made the Milton Keynes CX World Cup my first CX race coverage, it lived up to everything I hoped for in a big CX race and I certainly hope to see it return in the future.