With the Koksijde World Cup coming up on November 22, this week’s Thowback Thursday takes us back to Koksijde in 2002, where Ben Berden took the Elite Men’s World Cup win.
Berden, racing for Vlandren 2002 at the time, took his career-defining win on a Merckx Alu Cross, which he was kind enough to share photos of with the Cyclocross Magazine pit crew.
At first glance at Berden’s Merckx, it seems that what’s old in ‘cross is new again. A 1X setup, a light-weight aluminum frame and Dugast tubular tires are all commonplace on cross bikes even to this day, and Berden continues to pilot a single chainring drivetrain and aluminum frame. Merckx, while absent from World Cup podiums lately, is back into the sport with cross and gravel offerings.
The Alu Cross features a 7020 aluminum frame and Merckx Alu AXC aluminum fork. A Campagnolo Record rear derailleur is paired with a nine-speed Record shifter. Berden has been a longtime proponent of the now-ubiquitous 1x setup, and his Alu Cross features Campagnolo Record cranks outfitted with a 42-tooth front ring and a 12-25 nine-speed Record cassette.
In the days before clutch derailleurs and narrow-wide chain rings, Berden used a chain guard for his chain retention needs. His chain guard is a 48-tooth outer chain ring with the teeth ground off—very similar to Sven Nys’ current 1x setup on his Trek Boone.
Campagnolo provides the wheels, their Nucleon tubulars are shod with 34mm Dugast Flying Doctor file-tread tubulars (now outlawed due to the UCI’s 33mm maximum tire width rule).
In the days before hydraulic discs, wide-profile cantilever brakes paired with the aluminum box-section rims to provide Berden with stopping power.
The weight on this complete bike featuring an aluminum frame and fork with alloy wheels? Berden reports that it weighs just 6.9kg—15.2 pounds for the non-Belgians out there. Most carbon bikes nowadays don’t come close to that, making that number very impressive or trigger head-scratching among weight weenies.
While punctuated with great victories, Berden’s career was not without controversy, as the Belgian served a 15-month suspension for anti-doping rule violations ten years ago. Berden has since found great success racing in the United States, and still is piloting an aluminum bike to this day—a custom-built Stoemper. See his Ronny from the Lost and Found gravel ride here.
Berden still has this bike, and says it’s hanging in his parents’ house. He’s contemplating selling it, so if you fancy owning a piece of history, reach out to him.
Use the arrows below to see Ben Berden’s Merckx Alu Cross in more detail. Love the look back at cyclocross history? See our Throwback Thursday archives for more oldies but goodies.
Ben Berden’s World Cup-Winning Merckx Alu Cross