The leaders and fans. Koksijde Elite Men World Cup 11/28/2009 ©Bart Hazen

Cyclocross continues to attract more attention. From Koksijde World Cup 11/28/2009 ©Bart Hazen

by Josh Liberles

Media coverage is a crucial component to cyclocross’ continued growth, and momentum seems to be in the sport’s favor. An interview with Bruce Fina, promoter of the 2012 / 2013 World Championships in Louisville, recently appeared on Sport.be, a Belgian website with plenty of cyclocross coverage. While not surprising that something as significant as the World Championships coming to America for the first time would receive attention in the ‘cross hotbed of Belgium, it was still cool to see. In the US, it’s rare to find widespread coverage of anything cycling-related without the name “Lance” attached to it. So when a domestic mainstream rag like USA Today has a headline reading, “Louisville to host three elite cyclocross events,” right next to an ad to buy New Orleans Saints’ Super Bowl swag, you know that the sport has hit the big time – or, at least we’re headed in that direction.

What’s more, local governments are seeing the benefits that hosting events can bring to their areas. “I’m so proud that Louisville is the first city outside Europe to be awarded the Cyclocross World Championships,” Louisville’s Mayor Jerry Abramson told USA Today. “We’re turning Louisville into one of our nation’s most bike-friendly cities by investing in bicycle infrastructure, listening to the needs of local cyclists and hosting events that draw more attention to cycling. Our local cyclocross teams are among the nation’s best, and we’re developing a venue that will help them keep their competitive edge.”

The growing hubbub surrounding ‘cross isn’t restricted to the US and the upcoming World Championships here. British news source the Guardian recently touted the virtues of cyclocross and pedaling through the inclement seasons. A Guardian a reporter tried his hand at racing and shared his experience and some interviews with other participants on their bike podcast. The ‘cross segment is right at the beginning of the show:
Listen to the Guardian podcast.

Of course, we still have a long way to go before cyclocross actually becomes the equivalent of the Super Bowl, as it has in Belgium. Over there, the big news story is of Niels Albert singing, then indoor-tandem-cyclocross riding with Belgian superstar crooner Christoff: perhaps the equivalent of Serena Williams (or Katie Compton?) getting down with Madonna.

With all of the attention and traction that cyclocross has gotten recently, maybe a date with the winter Olympics isn’t so far fetched after all?