Milton Keynes World Cup crew on course.

Normally, here at grit.cx, we don’t just re print a press release, but this one is a bit different. It’s the full details from the organisers of the World Cup Cyclo Cross at Milton Keynes. You know, the one that’s happening on Saturday – as in two days time! So, here’s the latest low down.

ON COURSE

The MKWCX crew are, quite literally now, on course.

With just a two days to go, months of preparation are now coming together to form a sporting event of international interest and calibre.

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This week the global stars of cyclocross will step onto British soil and make their way to Milton Keynes for the first ever cyclocross World Cup to be held in the UK. This week all eyes are on Campbell Park as a thus far unpredictable World Cup throws another unknown into the mix. This week Great Britain will be the centre of the cyclocross World!

With that in mind, the team are working full gas to put on the best possible event for the riders, the spectators – both at the venue and those watching on TV and through the internet around the World – and for the sponsors, supporters and for cyclocross as a sport.

Hours of organisation, meetings, emailing and calculating have set us up for the final run up to race day. Now it’s out of the office and into the field.

The course build is well underway. Last week the crew built a set of steps into one of the slopes, prompting a lot of speculation as to whether riders would opt to ride or run them. Technical talent Tom Meeusen has promised to give them a go without dismounting, and Jeremy Powers’ fan club certainly seem to think he can do it. It will be a great place to spectate during the races, and also worth a look during practice to see the first attempts! Also taking shape (and involving even bigger power tools and machinery!) is the specially laid, tarmac start/finish straight. Yes, a road is being built for the specific purpose of this race! No short-cuts.

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start finish

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steps

So far this week the posts are in (1600 of them, marking out 2.6km of course), the pits are set and the taping has begun. It is beginning to look like a course, and a fantastic one at that!

Having been responsible for the Hadleigh Farm London Olympic Games course, Martin Seddon is not new to delivering courses for some of the World’s biggest events. Along with Simon Burney, he has envisaged and then created a superb cyclocross track which is both fun and testing, and great for riders and spectators alike.

Martin explains that the Campbell Park venue was a blessing. At first inspection it was easy for him to imagine it as a World Cup venue with the “lovely, flowy slopes” making an ideal landscape for ‘cross. “If you’re presented with a flat course then you are going to have some trouble, but with a hill like we have at Campbell Park there are lots of options”.

Simon was very much part of the course design process, having sketched out a basic idea of a course shortly after he had seen the venue for the first time. From here it was a case of refinement, taking into account the requirements of the television production team, the VIP area, the expo, the food stalls and all the many other necessities of a World Cup.

Now all of those sketches, structures and ideas and are finally becoming realities. The final week is when it all comes together and, what has hitherto only been imagined, finally comes to life. Thankfully there have been no Frankenstein moments! After an hour of racing the riders may think Martin has created a monster, but right now the course is inviting rather than ominous.

Well, inviting if you aren’t scared by a slippery slope! The cambers were, even last week, not easy to stay upright on, as Martin admittedly found out first hand (or first bottom, should we say!). However, as Martin also pointed out, the riders racing on Saturday are the very best in the World and what for us seems impossible is for them totally rideable; it will be a master class in cyclocross skill.

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With meticulous planning and attention to detail the Milton Keynes World Cup ‘Cross team – from the course crew to the expo experts to the caterers to the council – have got it all under control. Except for one thing, that is. The Great British weather.

The heavy rain of the weekend plus a midweek band of showers over the area will no doubt have many spectators rubbing their hands with glee! We have felt the cold creeping in but a really hard frost is not predicted, so more slippery than soggy boggy conditions are the current prediction. But this is the British weather we are talking about, so don’t be holding your breath.

Campbell Park is a venue which includes cambers, corners, and carrying (looking like four run ups per lap, dependent on conditions). Some sections are fast, some are slow; some reward power whilst others salute skill; there is plenty of elevation, gained both by riding and running; and mud, tyres and technique will definitely play their roll, though to what extend we have yet to be sure. Word from the course crew suggests that those who excelled in Asper-Gavere will go well at Campbell Park. Whilst there may not be the full-blown Belgian bog, there will almost certainly be some foot-out flat-out and hope for the best moments, and very possibly some flat on their face moments too!

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Reactions so far has been very positive. That said, nerves are surfacing, even if panic stations are some way off.

Martin reveals, “Am I nervous? Yeah, totally! The World’s eyes are on you. I do worry about how well the riders will receive the course and it won’t be until they are out there at the weekend and I get positive feedback that I’ll be relaxed. I know that things work, I’ve tried it out, but I’m not as quick as I used to be though so you do approach things slower and it will be different to how the pros tackle it.”

That Martin cares so much about how the course will be received tells us that he, along with his team, is working incredibly hard to put on the best possible show of British cyclocross. Confidence and morale is high; I think we’re on to a winner!

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course map new

So the course is almost in place; the beer tents are, crucially, in place; the riders are on their way and everything is on course for a fantastic weekend of racing.

Britain’s best will fight it out on home soil with the might of the Low Countries, the strength of the USA, the fire power of the French. It’s all set for greatness.

Let’s make it amazing. Let’s make history. Let battle commence, in T minus 3 days!

Tickets are still available online at www.mkwcx.com. Tickets are £10 for adults and U12s go free. If you’re still unsure whether you’ll make it, tickets are available on the gate for £15 for adults and U12s are still free.

For updates and more photographs from the course build, follow @MiltonKeynesWCX on Twitter.

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See you at Campbell Park on Saturday, we can’t wait!

Just Like the MK crew, we can’t wait, we’ll be there, trade stand and all – the one with free beer for members.

Buy your tickets, come and pop by the stand to grab a program and a beer, and chat all things #dirtydropbargoodness. This is going to be a weekend to remember.

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