NOBEYAMA CX 2017
Cyclocross in minus temperatures is a lung searing experience. The unique location of Rapha Supercross Nobeyama on a working farm and horse ranch, deep in the Yatsugatake mountains creates a technical course with breathtaking views and unpredictable weather at an altitude of 1,345m.
The course weaves its way through a route that includes woods, stables, an ATV track and all kinds of natural and un-natural obstacles that would ordinarily be found on a farm, but not necessarily a UCI cyclocross race.
The chaos of the first lap in the race, when the groups are still closely packed and any sudden change in ground conditions can cause an immediate fluctuation in pace as riders quickly adjust to the fastest way forward.
With more than 100 riders in the Mens Elite class, the shear momentum of this juggernaut of powerful riders ripping their way through the mud was something special to witness.
Parents play an important role in getting the kindergarten racers to the finish line. The family aspect of this event can really be felt, despite being a UCI categorised race that’s growing every year, the children's races are still equally important. It’s even been known that couples have met at this race to later get married.
Anthony Clark had serious focus for the Mens Elite, he finished the race by turning himself inside out on the final sprint to finish just outside the podium in 4th. Together with his team mates from Squid bikes who made the trip from America, Samantha Runnels took victory in the Elite Women’s on Day 1 and with a top ten finish for Emily Kachorek, the whole team earned valuable UCI points.
The continuous backdrop of the Yatsugatake Mountains is integral to this event and home to Daisuke Yano, Rapha's Head of Japan who started this race eight years ago. Not only managing things over the whole weekend but racing amongst some of the worlds best in the UCI Men's Elite race.
Across the long stretches of thick, heavy mud, riders styles varied from thigh burning pedal churning to running full out until the ground conditions improved.
The UCI Womens Elite podium was dominated by three riders over the two days of racing. Samantha Runnels, Miho Imai and April McDonough battled hard in a field of 35 women, the highest turnout in Japan to date.
Cyclocross has been steadily growing in Japan and crowds from across the country travel to this remote mountainous location (Japan’s highest town) to experience the best cyclocross racing can offer. With 15 international racers from five different countries it’s the biggest race in the country.
The sun may have been shining this year, but temperatures were still bitterly cold, making the effort that much more demanding. Mihoko Kitayama placed in the top 10 of the Womens CL race pushing herself to her limits.
As two days of racing went by, ice ruts and thawing soil soon became thick, heavy mud that weighed down bikes and resulted in more than a few broken derailleurs.
Taisho, the owner of Takizawa farm and influential member the local community has been a key part of Nobeyama Supercross’s success since day one, bringing the town together for the past eight years in an event that see’s many of the same people return year after year.
Chris Jongewaard and Emil Hekele switched between 1st and 2nd place Men’s Elite on day one and day two. Both riding extremely strong races and finishing ahead of the field on both days respectively. The weekend ended with truly international podium results from Australia, the Czech Republic, America and of course Japan.