Last Fall, the small country of Luxembourg won the bid for the 2017 Cyclocross World Championship. The last time they held the event was almost fifty years ago.
How different was the world of cyclocross back then? To put it in perspective, by the time 1968 rolled around, only two Belgians had ever stood on the podium at the world level, and the Dutch would have to wait another 12 years before seeing one of their countrymen land the nation’s first medal. It was a time where the French were dominating the sport alongside heavy favorites, Renato Longo of Italy and Rolf Wolfshohl of Germany.
The courses were run-heavy, especially on climbs, partially out of necessity. The tire widths ran smaller and the treads had far less bite. In the video above, posted by British Pathé on YouTube, pay careful attention to the riders’ driving skills, which is quite impressive looking at the off-cambers they tackle on the equipment they used. All the rules of technique still applied as you can see riders distributing their weight as they drive their bikes forward through ditches.
In this race, Erik De Vlaeminck, who was the first Belgian to win a World Championship two years prior, was able to capture his second, and just as the likes of Marianne Vos, would go on to eventually take six wins in a row. The total of seven titles would make De Vlaeminck the winningest Elite Man in the sport of cyclocross, and set the tone of Belgian-based dominance in the sport of cyclocross for the next fifty years.