The Rapha Super Cross series brings together the many faces of this thrilling cyclesport. The cycling discipline that started life as a training regime for the French cavalry in the early 20th century was then taken up by pro road racers looking for something to keep them in shape during the off-season. These days it is a sport all its own, one that demands intensive bursts of power, superlative bike-handling skills and no small amount of courage. Races last around an hour, with courses taking in fields and trails, and featuring man-made and natural obstacles that force riders to shoulder their bikes or find other inventive means to negotiate the terrain.
Rapha Super Cross is a worldwide series of racing that sees the world’s top professional riders duking it out, alongside the rough and tumble of amateur races for both adults and children. With events tailored to capture the flavour of the respective cross scenes in each country, some venues boast the festival atmosphere typical of the US scene, while others offer the more raucous support popularised in northern Europe. In addition to fast and furious pro racing action around some of the most creatively designed courses in the world, amateurs racers can expect a tequila shortcut, foam walls, music, mud and cowbells. While some races will see a serious outbreak of fancy dress, all will serve the finest local food and drink (Belgian beer and frites are compulsory).
As Frenchman Eugène Christophe, the famous rider who was the first man to wear the maillot jaune, wrote in a rallying cry to future cross racers:
“I do not speak [to] the cyclist who has achieved glory or even notability, about the champion who distinguished himself by fine exploits. I address the young cyclists, the beginners, the professionals and the amateurs, all those who love cycling and who love their bikes.”
This season sees the Rapha Super Cross series landing in Europe, Japan, the USA and Australia. Here’s what’s in store:
The New England classic, the Gran Prix of Gloucester is now officially the Rapha Super Cross Gloucester. The hallowed battleground of Stage Fort Park will host America’s top riders on September 27th and 28th, a course set against a backdrop of stunning ocean views. As Rapha-sponsored pro Jeremy Powers says, the Gran Prix of Gloucester is “historic, classic and epic.”
Stage Fort Park
On 28th September, the Rapha Super Cross series hosts its first race on German soil. The action will take place at Olympiapark München, with races held on the historic track that staged both the 1985 and 1997 UCI Cyclocross world championships. There’s sure to be a few fireworks at this inaugural event.
Sunday 28th September 2014
On 1st November, the Rapha Super Cross returns to Sydney. Staged on the south side of the city, its landscaped gardens and rolling hills are the perfect location for the cowbell-clanging, beer-swilling, hard-racing good times of Super Cross.
Saturday, 1st November 2014
St Peters NSW
Skipton and London
The original home of Super Cross, this year rounds one and two revisit the idyllic country estate of Broughton Hall for a weekend of racing that showcases Britain’s best riders (and worst fancy dress). Round three takes place high above old London town, at the historic Alexandra Palace. Expect big queues in the beer tents.
Rounds one and two:
Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th October
Saturday 25th October
Located at an elevation of 1,400m on a remote farm just 3km from the Rapha Japan office, this beautiful course is 2.5km and now UCI-certified. With race categories from kindergarten to UCI U23, the expected attendance should touch 1,000 entrants across two days of racing.
Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September