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Cyclocross is no longer cycling's hidden gem. Its rapid growth in the USA and UK means this intense and dramatic sport is exploding into the mainstream. With a season running from September to February, cyclocross is cycling's only purely winter discipline, demanding a combination of athleticism, supreme technical skill, and ruthless tactics for the muddy conditions. In the sport's heartland of Belgium, major races attract crowds of thousands and have a carnival atmosphere fueled by heavy drinking, ringing cowbells, and pumping airhorns. Many top riders have enthusiastic fan­clubs and are national celebrities--one even had his own reality TV show. On race day, Belgian and Dutch television coverage is akin to a major football game in the US, stretching for hours with pre-­race interviews, pundits, and behind-the-scenes films.

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