The Rapha Super Cross series kicks off in Windermere on Sunday, with current national cyclo-cross champion Paul Oldham and 2009 victor Jody Crawforth set to go head-to-head.
Oldham will lead Hope Factory Racing in the three-race cyclo-cross series, while Crawforth will spearhead current national team champions Hargroves Cycles-Specialized-Trant-Next – both vying for a share of the £6,000 prize money.
Other confirmed elite teams are Scott UK, Wiggle, Charge Bikes, Wheelbase.co.uk-Cannondale and Vicious Velo, while Great Britain team manager Phil Dixon has assembled a strong group of under-23 riders representing Rapha.
Oldham said: “I won the North of England Championships on the Brockhole course at Windermere when it was covered in snow. Our team is good and we definitely fancy our chances. I’ll be looking to beat Jody for sure. Usually at National Trophy races it’s pretty much friends and family making up the spectators, so it will be good to race in front of a big crowd and put on a show.”
After the first leg in Cumbria, Rapha Super Cross will head to Huddersfield on Sunday October 16, before the finale at London’s Alexandra Palace on Sunday October 23.
“We will be going all out to win this, especially as the series is in its first year,” added 2010 National Trophy Series champion Crawforth.
“The courses have been really well thought out and sound pretty hard. Plus it will be great to have the crowds cheering us on. A personal rivalry obviously exists between Paul and me and this series will be no exception to that. We will be battling it out to the end.”
All three courses have been designed to help recreate the atmosphere of US ‘cross racing, with a smattering of Belgian grit and mud.
Windermere has a true Belgian feel to it, with three climbs and other natural hurdles, set in the waterside surroundings of the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre, while Huddersfield is a technical, man-made course with testing off-camber banking.
Alexandra Palace needs no introduction. A legendary venue, last used 20 years ago for cyclo-cross, it is a hillside course including a flight of steps and woodland – check out the video preview below.
For novice riders the Alexandra Palace course boasts an additional challenge in the optional tequila short cut. That chops a corner out of the course but involves an obligatory shot, plus riders will be dodging marshmallow missiles and water pistol attacks.
An under-12 race is included at all three events and at Windermere there will be an additional fun circuit for younger children who would like to have a go (bring a bike and a helmet).
Windermere course designer and Scott UK captain Nick Craig said: “It’s only one week to go until the first in the series and racing up the drive and around the garden at the splendid Brockhole (Windermere) will feel amazing.
“It’s a classic course with a few surprises, more akin to the early days of cyclo-cross but on the edge of Windermere – do not miss this one. The following day at Huddersfield it’s more Euro style with off-camber banks looping around the fields and woods. The weekend will be extremely entertaining for riders and spectators.”
Visit www.rapha.cc/super-cross for more information.
Alexandra Palace course preview
Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues provides the inspiration to this Alexandra Palace course preview, ridden by Paul Oldham.