by Dan Seaton
If you couldn’t make the trip to Kalmthout in December to watch Sven Nys rebound from a disastrous first lap to a dramatic victory in the middle of a blizzard, or Treviso to see Katie Compton and Niels Albert both ride away from two talented fields, leaving nothing but a cloud of dust behind them, then you missed a chance to see some of the best racing in the world. If you’re reading this in the United States—and most of you are—then you’re in good company. Until the UCI brings the big show to Louisville in 2013, the chance to watch the greatest ‘crossers in the world in person without dropping $1000 on a flight across the Atlantic will probably remain elusive.
To hold you over, Balint Hamvas, a Hungarian-born photographer who resides in Britain and runs the site cyclephotos.co.uk, offers up his new book, the rather blandly titled UCI Cyclocross World Cup 2009/2010. But the understated name belies the book’s content, a collection of some his very best photos from each of the nine stops on the World Cup tour last season. The photos, a mix of candid pre- and post-race snapshots and dramatic action photos, taken with an arty flare, are vivid and full of life and capture some of the spirit of the World Cup that doesn’t necessarily come across in video or written accounts of the races.
Each set of photos is accompanied by Hamvas’ personal reflections, presented in tri-lingual format in English, Dutch, and Czech. The occasionally clunky prose gives some insight into the photographer’s personal experience at the race, but the photos do the real talking. There’s one or two clunkers in among them as well, but most are gorgeous and engaging, revealing something deeper than just what happened during the race.
The book itself was finished just a week after the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide — it was already printed and on sale at the World Championships in Tábor. The quick turnaround might account for the book’s slightly flimsy, softcover feel. I wouldn’t mind paying a little bit more than the €20 price to get a book with a hard cover, but the final product is nonetheless attractive and well laid out and certainly worth the cost.
I wouldn’t go as far as calling the book a must, but it’s definitely a treat for a serious fan who wants a memento of the past season, or for a racer looking for that Euro ‘cross fix for motivation to get started training for the next one.
More information on the book itself and where to buy it is available at http://cyclephotos.co.uk/book/.
Photo Gallery: Snapshots from UCI Cyclocross World Cup 2009/2010