Photo Shoot: The mad, muddy world of cyclo-cross

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Cycling is generally regarded as a summer sport, but the arrival of rain, wind and snow does not put a brake on the action. Cyclo-cross riders relish the challenging weather conditions, as spectators at the recent Open London Cyclo-Cross Championships at Addington Hills in Surrey discovered.

Cyclo-cross riders tackle cross-country courses in which the terrain is often so rough that they have to pick up their bikes and carry them. There are obvious similarities with mountain bike racing, but in competition terms there is one key factor that keeps them apart: mountain bikes generally have much wider tyres and are considerably heavier.

To underline how much crossover there is between the two sports, the London event was won by Manchester's Nick Craig, the current national mountain bike champion.

The London championship is one of the most important events on the cyclo- cross calendar and it again attracted a large crowd. The competition featured some 80 riders, including teams from the Netherlands and Belgium.

The course is regarded as one of the toughest in the sport. In the senior event riders had to complete eight laps of a three- kilometre circuit, Craig winning in a time of just over one hour and four minutes. Roger Hammond, the former world junior champion, was third and took the prize as the first London rider home.

The veterans' event (over six laps) was won by Peter Smith, with Peter Middlehurst taking the junior title (over five laps).