Video viewing for this feature is some recent 2010 UCI Cyclocross races. Prime examples of how the course itself, and conditions of the day can most dictate how the racing plays out.
I also take a cue from Steve Woo and look back to the UCI Cross Worlds from the year 2007, which was the most glorious ever for American Cyclocross racing at the Elite World Championships.
Tabor 2010- with it's long drawn out pavement sections and very fast conditions, this race was contested at one of the highest average speeds for a race this season in Europe. You can see when the track is not overly technical and dirt is hard packed and fast, pack racing becomes a reality for Cyclocross, especially when there are many riders near same level in fitness and strength.
Superprestige Zonhoven 2010- One of my favorite races of the season, with it's downhill sand sections and long run-ups. This course is demanding for bike handling- as well as fitness and strength. The crowds are extremely large and the best racers in the world keep the action non stop on course. Watch eventual winner Zedneck Stybar blast into an ignorant spectator who was trying to get video. Stybar was going at full speed toward the end of a technical downhill sand section, and I still can not believe that Stybar did not crash. This is a prime example of how tremendously strong Stybar is to keep his hands steady and not lose control when ramming into the idiotic fan full force.
GVA Trophy Koppenbergcross Oudenaarde 2010- Another one of my most favorite races of the season. Check out the crowds- maybe the largest I have ever seen at this race, which always has huge crowds. Cycling news had a story mentioning the crowds here. Sunday's race could have had over 20,000 fans watching the action live. The Koppenbergcross always brings high drama to the Cyclocross course and for 2010 the level was clearly raised. This was partly due to the conditions of the route, it was a pure mud festival, and one of the hardest Cross races I have viewed in a while. You know that when the 8th place male Elite racer is coming in 4 minutes behind the winner, conditions must have been off the chart difficult during the race. Watch eventual winner Sven Nys ride his tubular flat tire for half a lap in the slick conditions. He showed tremendous skills to ride the flat tubular around some of those mud filled corners. That course was so hard, you can see it in the riders faces. There was no pack riding on this day, it was every man for himself on course. The racing was just survival, and simply getting around the course without falling or coming to a stop was challenging. Watch the world's best Cyclocross bike handlers have to basically crawl around some of the off-camber, super-slick mud turns. You know if riders are having to take their feet off the pedals in each corner to tri-pod around the turns, the course is amazingly technical. Hats off to Sven Nys for being the ultimate dominator of this circuit.
2007 Women's UCI Cyclocross World Championships- This course was very hard for the ladies and you can see on the last lap it got down to the very strongest clawing for the finish with all the power they could muster. The World Championship was on the line for the winner, and if you do not get slightly emotionally entranced into this video, pulling for Katie Compton to get past the two French females, your not American!
2007 Men's UCI Cyclocross World Champioships- Watch as the Belgium Men appeared to have things under control in front of the frenzied home soil fans. That was until a motor-scooter carrying a cameraman took out a barrier and crashed out two of the favorites Sven Nys & Bart Wellens. That scene was so wrong........ but it was an American- Jonathan Page who benefited the most. Then watch as rider after rider tasted trouble and crashed in one way or another. The crowds got so out of control they toppled over the fencing and gate crashed into the action. Through all the drama it was a on form Jonathan Page who came so close to stealing the biggest title in Cyclocross racing. Page was in the lead on the very last lap, making a bid for victory, yet was slowed on one of the last small uphill rollers on the route and had to settle for the silver medal.