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Cyclo Cross 2013/2014, by Balint Hamvas

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The 2013/2014 'cross season, as seen through the lens of Balint Hamvas.

All photos (c) Balint Hamvas

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014 Title: Cyclo Cross 2013/2014 Photo Album
Author: Balint Hamvas
Publisher: Cycle Photos
Pages: 249
Year: 2014
Order: CyclePhotos.co.uk
What it is: A photographic account of the 2013/2014 cyclo cross season
Strengths: Documents what may prove to have been a pivotal season, with Hamvas telling the story in his usual elegant style
Weaknesses: Some way of incorporating race results would be good

So that was the cyclo cross season that was then, eh? A season that was marred before it even opened by the death of Amy Dombrowski, and then after it closed suffered the blow of Niels Albert announcing his forced retirement. It was the season without Zdeněk Štybar (although he did come back to steal the arc en ciel). It was the season Sven Nys kissed his Colnago goodbye with a win and, three days later, kissed his Trek hello with another victory. And, even though it was a season without snow, it was still a season with a lot of show. A season that - like the three that have preceded it - was captured through the lens of Balint Hamvas, ably supported by the pens of Caroline Cardinaels, Simon Burney, Brook Watts and Stef Wyman. A season whose story is told in Cyclo Cross 2013/2014.

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Modder, bagger, slib, derrie, slijk, smurrie, dras, blubber, or drek?

Following the European cycling season - from the first televised race, the Soudal Classic in Neerpelt, through the Bpost Bank Trophy, Superprestige and World Cup race series - Cyclo Cross 2013/2014 tells in words and pictures how Nys got the upper hand on Albert in the Bpost and Superprestige races but how both were pipped to the post in the World Cup series by Lars van der Haar. Who - quelle horreur! - was born when Bryan Adams was at number one in the hit parade with (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. (If you're too young to remember when Bryan Adams was at number one in the hit parade with his (parenthetical) earworm (or are so old you've forgotten), it was 1991, a time when Greg LeMond was the only American to have won the Tour de France.)

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Katie Compton

Telling the story of a cycling season through photographs, that can produce a lot of pictures that show different variants of victory salutes, the majority of which will be the bog standard missionary position (two arms in the air). This, thankfully, is not something Hamvas indulges in. There's probably fewer than a dozen such shots across Cyclo Cross 2013/2014's 249 pages, Hamvas preferring instead pictures from in the race and from around the race. As well as the expected pictures of mud (it wasn't a vintage year for lovers of modder, bagger, slib, derrie, slijk, smurrie, dras, blubber, and drek (© Caroline Cardinaels) - blame global warming) and sand (drifting further and further inland - more global warming?) and people going arse over tit (admit it, one of the pleasures of 'cross is watching people going arse over tit) Hamvas's lens also serves to highlight things you don't tend to think about when you think about 'cross - such as how do you dry a TV camera's lens?

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
The hair-dryer treatment

The images also provide some food for strange lateral thought. When I got my first camera-phone I decided I really needed to do something to celebrate always having a camera in my pocket, so I decided I would document the postboxes of Dublin. And - because there's a fan of every weird thing on the internet - I loaded them to a website at the time. Where - to my surprise - they became popular. In Cyclo Cross 2013/2014 I think Hamvas has the start of what could be a similarly weird set of photos: cyclists shot from the knees down.

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Legs

This doesn't even have to be limited to 'cross, where the fascination is how much mud can cling to hairless shins. With roadies, you know how strangely fascinating are the contours mapped by bulging veins. And with trackies the wonder is how bulging muscles are. And Taylor Phinney is single-handedly opening up the area of leg scars. There is much, much more to marvel at in photos of cyclists shot from the knees down that you might imagine. Trust me: I used to photograph postboxes.

Being the third time I've reviewed Hamvas's annual 'cross books, I don't have to tell you that this is the 'cross book of choice that should be on every cycling bookshelf and a cycling photo album that rewards repeated viewings, is not just there to look good on the coffee table. So how about actually considering some of the story of the season told. And to do this, let's consider that season in outline, by reference to the results from the three main series of races (this is my one criticism of Hamvas's annuals - I do think some way should be found to show the results from the season, subtly, so that the book is still able to retain its slightly askance look at the season but while also telling another story from that season):

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Niels Albert

Date Race Series Elite Men Elite Women
Sun
13 Oct
GP Mario de Clerq, Ronse
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL
Nikki Harris (GBr)
Young Telenet-Fidea
Sun
20 Oct
Valkenburg
Netherlands
World Cup Lars van der Haar (Ned)
Rabobank-Giant
Marianne Vos (Ned)
Rabobank Liv - Giant
Sat
26 Oct
Tábor
Czech Republic
World Cup Lars van der Haar (Ned)
Rabobank-Giant
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Sun
27 Oct
Ruddervoorde
Belgium
Superprestige Klaas Vantornout (Bel)
Sunweb-Napoleon Games
Helen Wyman (GBr)
Kona Factory Racing
Fri
1 Nov
Koppenbergcross, Oudenaarde
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Tom Meeusen (Bel)
Telenet-Fidea
Helen Wyman (GBr)
Kona Factory Racing
Sun
3 Nov
Zonhoven
Belgium
Superprestige Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL

Sun
10 Nov
Hamme-Zogge
Belgium
Superprestige Niels Albert (Bel)
BKCP-Powerplus
Nikki Harris (GBr)
Young Telenet-Fidea
Sat
16 Nov
GP van Hasselt, Hasselt
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Sun
17 Nov
Asper-Gavere
Belgium
Superprestige Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Sat
23 Nov
Koksijde
Belgium
World Cup Niels Albert (Bel)
BKCP-Powerplus
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Sun
24 Nov
Internationale Hamsgrohe, Gieten
Netherlands
Superprestige Niels Albert (Bel)
BKCP-Powerplus
Helen Wyman (GBr)
Kona Factory Racing
Sat
21 Dec
GP Rouwmoer, Essen
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Kevin Pauwels (Bel)
Sunweb-Napoleon Games
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Sun
22 Dec
Namur
Belgium
World Cup Francis Mourey (Fra)
FDJ.fr
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Thu
26 Dec
Heusden-Zolder
Belgium
World Cup Lars van der Haar (Ned)
Rabobank-Giant
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Fri
27 Dec
Azencross, Wuustwezel
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL
Marianne Vos (Ned)
Rabobank Liv - Giant
Sun
29 Dec
Diegem
Belgium
Superprestige Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - KDL
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Wed
1 Jan
GP Sven Nys, Baal
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
AA Drink
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Sun
5 Jan
Rome
Italy
World Cup Niels Albert (Bel)
BKCP-Powerplus
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Sun
26 Jan
Nommay
France
World Cup Tom Meeusen (Bel)
Telenet-Fidea
Marianne Vos (Ned)
Rabobank Liv - Giant
Sat
1 Feb
Hoogerhiede
Netherlands
World Championships
Marianne Vos (Ned)
Rabobank Liv - Giant
Sun
2 Feb
Hoogerhiede
Netherlands
World Championships Zdeněk Štybar (Cze)

Sat
8 Feb
Krawatencross, Lille
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - AA Drink
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Sun
9 Feb
Hoogstraten
Belgium
Superprestige Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - AA Drink
Nikki Harris (GBr)
Young Telenet-Fidea
Sat
15 Feb
Noordzeecross, Middelkerke
Belgium
Superprestige Tom Meeusen (Bel)
Telenet-Fidea
Helen Wyman (GBr)
Kona Factory Racing
Sun
23 Feb
Internationale Sluitingsprijs, Oostmalle
Belgium
Bpost Bank Trophy Niels Albert (Bel)
BKCP-Powerplus
Sanne Cant (Bel)
Enertherm-BKCP
Overall Superprestige Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - AA Drink
Overall Bpost Bank Trophy Sven Nys (Bel)
Crelan - AA Drink
Overall World Cup Lars van der Haar (Ned)
Rabobank-Giant
Katie Compton (USA)
Trek Cyclocross Collective
Note: While some of the Superprestige and all of the Bpost Bank Trophy race organisers put on women's races, there is no overall title for the female riders in these series.

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Amy Dombrowski

The story of these races is bookended in Cyclo Cross 2013/2014 with appreciations of Amy Dombrowski and Niels Albert, and also enjoys a time-out to offer a photo-essay looking at Helen Wyman, while Stef Wyman looks at Brian Cookson's wizard idea of getting 'cross into the Winter Olympics, making some interesting points on why Cookson is wrong. Elsewhere, Cross Vegas organiser Brook Watts hops into his DeLorean and pops back in time to look at the roots of 'cross in the US and Caroline Cardinaels - as well as offering little vignettes on each race - takes a look at the rivalry between Dutch and Belgian riders. Which look brings us back to the story of the season, part of which is the rise of two new talents, the afore mentioned Lars van der Haar (winner of three rounds of the World Cup and the overall series title) and the even younger Mathieu van der Poel.

Four years younger than Van der Haar's twenty-three years, Van der Poel has cycling genes to burn: daddy is Adri van der Poel (foil to Sean Kelly in many a sprint in the 1980s) while grandad is Raymond Poulidor. In the 2010-2011 season Van der Poel started 29 races. And won 29 races. In 2012-2013 he made it 30 from 30. At 19, you might think he's too young to be beating up on the big boys. But in Scheldecross in Antwerp he was able to race alongside them. Thankfully, Niels Albert beat him. But he beat everyone else.

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Starting young

The story of Cyclo Cross 2013/2014, then, is both of the past (Dombrowski, Albert) and the future (Van der Haar, Van der Poel), while Sven Nys still rules the present. With the next chapter about to begin - 2014/2015 - now is the ideal time to catch up on what is likely to prove to have been a pivotal season.

Balint Hamvas, Cyclo Cross 2013/2014
Falling off