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December 2011
     
 

By Barry Boyce, CyclingRevealed
Historian

 

 

CyclingRevealed's Top 10 Cyclocross Riders of All-times

Development of Cyclocross -

The first Cyclocross National Championships were run in France in 1902. Belgium organized their first championship 8 years later in 1910. Then others followed: Switzerland (1912), Luxembourg (1923), Spain (1929) and Italy (1930). The first competitions were more what a mountain bike rally is today. They would consist of leaving one point and arriving at another, after crossing fields, forests, hills and rivers.

The first important major international event of cyclocross was called the “Criterium International.” It first took place in 1924 and was organized in a forest west of Paris. The race was in a rural area and attracted great enthusiasm from the public. Year after year the competition continued and became increasingly popular.


Rider climbing the “Trou du diable” in the 1935 CI
(Photo from Archive)

Slowly cyclocross was developing a style of its own and promoters searched for shorter circuits to facilitate spectator's overall vision. Driven by this popularity they looked to central areas of cities, where the courses were characterized by long sections of stairs, paved streets, gardens and small fences (or barriers) similar to the ones utilized today.

As the development progressed, the Criterium International de Cyclo-Cross (the unofficial World Championships, not recognized by the UCI) gave way to the UCI's World Professional Cyclo-Cross Championships in 1950. The first official World CC Champion was Jean Robic (Fra). Robic, who in 1947 won the Tour de France. He is still the only TdF champion to win the World CC Championship. After Robic the championships were dominated by long “reigns of champions.” Roger Rondeaux (Fra)- 1951, 52, & 53, Andre Dufraisse (Fra)- 1954, 55, 56, 57, & 58, Renato Longo (Ita) 1959, 62, 64, 65, & 67, Eric de Vlaeminck (Bel)- 7 WC victories in 8 years ( he was the Eddy Merckx of cyclocross ), Albert Zweifel (Sui)- 1976, 77, 78, & 79, Roland Liboton (Bel)- 1980, 80, 82, 83, & 84.


(L to R) Roger De Vlaeminck, CX promoter Van Mirlo, and Eric De Vleaeminck in 1969
(Photo from Archive)

 

Ranking Cyclocross Riders -

All of the following riders of the 20th and 21st Centuries dominated their competition. In evaluating the list CyclingRevealed has ranked the great cyclocross pioneers and dominant stars by the superior results they achieved. (NOTE: several "Current" riders are destined to move up on the list based on future results):

CR's Top 10 Riders of the 20th Century
CR's Top 10 Riders of the 21st Century
1. Eric De Vlaeminck (Bel) (Results: 1966-1977) Simply the best 20th Century CX rider!!! Described as the "Eddy Merckx of Cyclocross", he dominated 7 World Championships over an 8 year period. He scored an amazing 103 CX victories. 1. Sven Nys (Bel) (Results: 1998-Current) One the greatest cyclocross riders of all-times, Nys has 1 World Championship victory, 8 Belgian National victories, 4 World Cups, 10 Superprestige Trophys, and 132 major race wins.
2. Albert Zweifel (Sui) (Results: 1975-1988)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 5
Cyclocross - National Championship: 9
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 32

2. Bart Wellens (Bel) (Results: 1999-Current)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 2
Cyclocross - National Championship: 3
Cyclocross - World Cup: 1
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 1
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 61
3. Renato Longo (Ita) (Results: 1958-1972)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 5
Cyclocross - National Championship: 12
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 230

3. Mario de Clercq (Bel) (Results: 1996-2004)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 3
Cyclocross - National Championship: 2
Cyclocross - World Cup: 2
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 51

4. Roland Liboton (Bel) (Results: 1980-1990)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 6
Cyclocross - National Championship: 12
Cyclocross - Regional Championship: 4
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 19
Cyclocross - Race Victories: 54
4. Niels Albert (Bel) (Results: 2008-Current)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 1
Cyclocross - European Championship: 3
Cyclocross - National Championship: 1
Cyclocross - Regional Championship: 2
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 43
5. Andre Dufraisse (Fra) (Results: 1951-1963)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 5
Cyclocross - National Championship: 7
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 19
5. Erwin Vervecken (Bel) (Results: 1994-2007)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 2
Cyclocross - National Championship: 1
Cyclocross - World Cup: 2
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 36
6. Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger) (Results: 1958-1972)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 3
Cyclocross - National Championship: 14
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 22
Cyclocross - Individual Time Trial: 1
Cyclocross - Couple Race: 1
6. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) (Results: 2008-Current) Cyclocross - World Championship: 2
Cyclocross - National Championship: 7
Cyclocross - World Cup: 1
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 1
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 20
7. Richard Groenendaal (Ned) (Results: 1994-2005)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 1
Cyclocross - World Cup: 3
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 2
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 46
7. Kevin Pauwels (Bel) (Results: 2009-Current)
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 10
Cyclocross - World Championship: 2 (Jr and U23)
Cyclocross - National Junior Championship: 1
8. Roger Rondeaux (Fra) (Results: 1945-1955)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 3
Cyclocross - Crit International (Unofficial) World Championship: 2 Cyclocross - National Championship: 7
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 40
8. Lars Boom (Ned) (Results: 2003-Current)
Cyclo-cross - World Championship: 3
Cyclo-cross - European Championship: 1
Cyclo-cross - National Championship: 11
Cyclo-cross - Superprestige: 2
Cyclo-cross - Major Race victories: 13
9. Adri Van Der Poel (Ned) (Results: 1985-2000)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 1
Cyclocross - National Championship: 6
Cyclocross - World Cup: 3
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 13 wins
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 29
9. Daniele Pontoni (Ita) (Results: 1993-2004)
Cyclocross - World Championship: 2
Cyclocross - National Championship: 11
Cyclocross - World Cup: 1
Cyclocross - Superprestige: 2
Cyclocross - Major Race victories: 67
10. Robert Oubron (Fra) (Results: 1936-1949)
Cyclocross - Crit International (Unofficial) World Championship: 4
Cyclocross - National Championship: 5
Cyclocross - Major Race Victories: 10
10. Francis Mourey (Fra) (Results: 2004-Current)
Cyclo-cross - National Championship: 8
Cyclo-cross - Major Race victories: 64
Cyclo-cross - World Cup race wins: 3

CyclingRevealed's Ultimate Top 10 Cyclocross racers of "ALL-TIMES"

1. Sven Nys (Bel)
2. Eric De Vlaeminck (Bel)
3. Albert Zweifel (Sui)
4. Renato Longo (Ita)
5. Roland Liboton (Bel)
6. Bart Wellens (Bel)
7. Mario de Clercq (Bel)
8. Richard Groenendaal (Ned)
9. Andre Dufraisse (Fra)
10. Niels Albert (Bel)

Several of the current young superstars will without doubt find a place of the "ALL-TIMES" list. But until they survive the rigors of time they will be ranked for what they have achieved in their short careers. CyclingRevealed will examine the CX issue again in the future.

Your opinion is important. The history of Cyclocross racing is new to CyclingRevealed and my selection of the ALL-TIME Top 10 may be subject to adjustment. To all our historian readers please email us with your opinion. Who should higher? Who should be lower? or Who should be on or off the list?

Email: CYCLINGREVEALED

Thanks to Stu Thorne from CyclocrossWorld.com for advice on the Top 10 ranking.

Historical Results

 
         
   

 


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