Skills analysis: National Youth Cyclo-Cross Championships

24 January 2014

Armed with a video camera I went along to this year’s National Cyclo-Cross Championships to analyse the skills required for youth riders to tackle the course effectively. The Championships were held at Derby over the weekend of the 11th and 12th January.

The venue was the Moorways Stadium, and the circuit was based round the banking above the athletics track with the start on roadway past the sports centre buildings. In addition to two tarmac sections, the course involved cambers, short grassy banks, one set of hurdles, a tartan athletics track straight and a sand trap. Due to the recent deluges the course was muddy in places and a quagmire in others. Sections that looked merely soft on the Friday afternoon soon became thick mud once the races started.

The challenges facing riders were how to stay upright on slippery muddy cambers, choosing when to run or ride a section, and choosing whether to shoulder or push their bikes, in addition to trying to find the fastest or safest lines. Examples of hurdling and remounting technique always highlights those who have not practiced enough or have not been taught the best technique.

A National Championships course is designed to find a worthy senior champion so it can be a tough challenge for youth age riders, especially Under 14s (Youth B). Despite this, the riders involved made an impressive effort in the tough conditions and there were many close battles.

Our video shows what the riders had to face and the different choices that they made. Here are shortcuts to particular features and techniques within the film:-

0 mins 14 secs

Under 14 boys, lap 1. Slippery descent and corner.

1 mins 23 secs

Under 16 boys on same section.

2 mins 25 secs

Slippery climb.

3 mins 30 secs

Cambered corner.

5 mins 0 secs

Muddy bank – shoulder or push the bike?

6 mins 0 secs


6 mins 54 secs

Flat, boggy section – running with the bike.

7 mins 20 secs

Sand trap.

8 mins 03 secs

Fast, tarmac corners on muddy tyres.

8 mins 40 secs

Under 16 leading boys: slip allows decisive attack.

9 mins 55 secs

Mark Wyer has worked in Cycle Coaching and Development for over 15 years. He currently works for British Cycling as a Go-Ride Coach in the Eastern Region and is a Level 3 Road and Time Trial Coach as well as holding various Level 2 awards. He is also a Regional Cyclo-Cross Commissaire, judges at races and regularly organises cycling events.

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Skills analysis: National Youth Cyclo-Cross Championships

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