Forum home Mountain biking forum MTB general

British XC racers?

j0sh123j0sh123 Posts: 21
edited January 2013 in MTB general
British cycling has been pretty successful this year at the olympics, wiggo claiming tour de france title etc, however the successes do not seem to extend to xc racing. Why is it that we have produced some world champion road, track and even DH (e.g. Rachel Atherton) riders, but no xc?
«1

Posts

  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,601
    Because I want to give other people a chance.
    I don't do smileys.

    There is no secret ingredient - Kung Fu Panda

    London Calling on Facebook

    Parktools
  • bennett_346bennett_346 Posts: 5,092
    XC is the least glamourous so few youngsters choose to pursue it these days as a profession.

    Road racing is very glamorous now and DH is seen as cool.
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    Because if you want to make money as a professional cyclist, you need to ride on the road - quite a few of the top road riders have come from an MTB background though. The only sponsors in MTB racing are mainly bike companies, whereas road attracts bigger corporates and far more $$$$.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • mikeyj28mikeyj28 Posts: 754
    Monty Dog wrote:
    Because if you want to make money as a professional cyclist, you need to ride on the road - quite a few of the top road riders have come from an MTB background though. The only sponsors in MTB racing are mainly bike companies, whereas road attracts bigger corporates and far more $$$$.

    I totally agree. Ones who have come from MTB background have been pretty successful on the road too.
    Constantly trying to upgrade my parts.It is a long road ahead as things are so expensive for little gain. n+1 is always the principle in my mind.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    ^^ this

    A lot of decent junior XC racers have been drawn to the road instead, Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was a good MTBer back in the day!
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,244
    XC racing does nt have the greatest "rep" in the UK either. In other countries its probably what the majority of MTBers do. Its only the last few years that every European bike hasnt had super skinny flat bars and stems that could be measured in lightyears.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • welshkevwelshkev Posts: 9,690
    i wondered this a while back (i think i posted it somewhere). i was watching monuntain biking on eurosport i think and there was xc, 4x and dh.

    i thought the same as you, why are there no brits pushing for the top spot? is it annie last who's quite good but everyone else is just top 20 at best (still awesome don't get me wrong), but not in the realms of the athertons, scott beaumont, danny hart, manon carpenter, katy curd etc

    there's a a lad i went to school with who races elite xc and he's super fit (obviously) but what takes the xc riders to the next level? someone mentioned altitude before, is that it? :?
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,244
    genetics and exceptional hard work, to the detriment of all other parts of life, and dedication...
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    is it annie last who's quite good but everyone else is just top 20 at best (still awesome don't get me wrong), but not in the realms of the athertons, scott beaumont, danny hart, manon carpenter, katy curd etc

    That's the one, but yes you're right, Liam Killeen was oh so close, but never quite made it into the real upper echelons, WC wins and that. Lack of support from BC is a big issue, BC takes our good MTBers and shifts them to the track or the road, there's so little funding for XC racing. That's harder to do with top DH racers because it's a more different skill set.

    I reckon that's the bigger issue than simply not having the talent.
  • j0sh123j0sh123 Posts: 21
    njee20 wrote:
    is it annie last who's quite good but everyone else is just top 20 at best (still awesome don't get me wrong), but not in the realms of the athertons, scott beaumont, danny hart, manon carpenter, katy curd etc

    That's the one, but yes you're right, Liam Killeen was oh so close, but never quite made it into the real upper echelons, WC wins and that. Lack of support from BC is a big issue, BC takes our good MTBers and shifts them to the track or the road, there's so little funding for XC racing. That's harder to do with top DH racers because it's a more different skill set.

    I reckon that's the bigger issue than simply not having the talent.

    Yes I think it is the lack of support and funding from BC. I can't understand why xc is one of the least funded disciplines though.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    j0sh123 wrote:
    njee20 wrote:
    is it annie last who's quite good but everyone else is just top 20 at best (still awesome don't get me wrong), but not in the realms of the athertons, scott beaumont, danny hart, manon carpenter, katy curd etc

    That's the one, but yes you're right, Liam Killeen was oh so close, but never quite made it into the real upper echelons, WC wins and that. Lack of support from BC is a big issue, BC takes our good MTBers and shifts them to the track or the road, there's so little funding for XC racing. That's harder to do with top DH racers because it's a more different skill set.

    I reckon that's the bigger issue than simply not having the talent.

    Yes I think it is the lack of support and funding from BC. I can't understand why xc is one of the least funded disciplines though.

    Yet, there are more XC orientated races in the UK than anything else. There are loads of local 20mile charity based MTB events up and down the country, marathons, 24hr, enduros, those orienteering based ones (can't remember what they're called)... And I'm sure I hear far more about those races than I do the Gravduros and DH stuff. The MacAvalanche on Glencoe I don't think was even covered this year, whilst the Fetish Gravduro nearly died off too. I don't think XC is the least funded, it's not the least covered, or the least provided for. Yet it seems to garner the smallest numbers of talent.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I can't understand why xc is one of the least funded disciplines though.

    Possibly because there's less cache in having a good XC racer compared to a good road/track rider who can become a household name (see Cav, Wiggo, Hoy, Pendleton), links back to the money/success side of it. BC get more back from a good road or track rider, so they put more in.
    Yet, there are more XC orientated races in the UK than anything else

    All quite different to 'actual' XC though, which there aren't that many of. Most events these days are going more towards 'enduro' (as in endurance) format with 2 hour/4 hour categories rather than a standard XC hierarchy where even the elite race will be <2 hours. It seems that at all levels there's a bit of a tendency away from 'true' XC racing.

    Bit like saying "we have the London to Brighton, I can't believe it took this long to get a British TdF winner".
    Yet it seems to garner the smallest numbers of talent.

    Again, not sure it does - they're just siphoned off to other disciplines. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke was a very good XC racer - top 3 in the country as a Junior, but went to the road, where he's now winning decent stage races and riding for Sky. I'm sure I've read interviews where Annie Last has said she's had to really fight to stay on the MTB.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    edited January 2013
    njee20 wrote:
    they're just siphoned off to other disciplines.
    That's a fair enough point.
    njee20 wrote:
    All quite different to 'actual' XC though, which there aren't that many of. Most events these days are going more towards 'enduro' (as in endurance) format with 2 hour/4 hour categories rather than a standard XC hierarchy where even the elite race will be <2 hours. It seems that at all levels there's a bit of a tendency away from 'true' XC racing.

    The formats that I've mentioned though, apart from the orienteering type ones, seem to lend themselves best to XC racers. Do you think that XC racers (as opposed to races) are being catered for less and less?
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Yes and no. The real 'racers' ie the Elite will make up a tiny proportion of any event, so it's fair enough they cater for the masses.

    It's not that they're not catered for, but there's not a vast calendar of events either. If we're talking BC sanctioned events there are:

    - 1 National Championship
    - 5 National Races
    - 5(ish?) Regional Championships, which now are all held on the same day, so you can't go getting more points to progress by doing the Welsh, Southern and Midlands champs for example)
    - A handful of regional races in each region

    And that's for the whole UK. Taking the national level races this year they're in:
    - Nottinghamshire
    - South Wales
    - Cornwall
    - Essex
    - Shropshire
    - Nat Champs in Glasgow

    That's a massive amount of travelling, and not all that many events, when you consider there's a calendar absolutely chock full of road races, and you could do one every single day from March to September without driving more than 100 miles. Not only is road racing more financially rewarding there are more opportunities to do it.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    Hmm, I didn't know there were so many roadie events. It's quite interesting to find out about the fabric of MTB and where the racers come from / go to.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Indeed there are! BC calendar for 2013 shows 108 MTB events (that's all events, not just XC), and 792 road races!
  • Because all people and the mags do is slag it off. Thus a negativity about "lycra wearers" is continued and they are viewed as sad sods. downhill does nothing for me, nor does the bmx side of mtb. For me xc is an overall sport, encompassing all discipline. For saying this and giving an honest personal opinion I will be castigated as way of demonstration of the main issue.
  • bluechair84bluechair84 Posts: 4,352
    For saying this and giving an honest personal opinion I will be castigated as way of demonstration of the main issue.
    Now now, calm down. We only treat roadies that way!
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I'm not totally convinced that's the case either. I suppose it's not that glamorous, but I don't know of anyone being put off because it's not cool enough.
  • I raced cross country since I was wee and had some success in it even at British Level but have slowly shifted to road alongside lots of other people I raced with for a few different reasons.
    - generally cheaper and less parts braking
    -lots more races
    -lots more opportunity to make something out of it (I've still a year left in youth)
    -generally easier to get out and train (lots of different bunches and chaingangs nearby compared to not much for mtb)
    -the racing on the road can be more enjoyable (mtb is just smashing it which although fun can be repetitive - road racing has a lot more to it)
    -my club really supports the road racing seen and offers nothing for mtb
    Racing all over the UK, trying to win a few http://franciscycling.blogspot.co.uk/
  • welshkevwelshkev Posts: 9,690
    I know he's not British but it's very sad news about burry stander. But going back to coverage of xc racing or the lack of, I've never heard of him!!!! I know the names of most road racers and I don't even own a road bike.

    Surely there's something wrong there
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,244
    Very very few MTBers follow the pro sport, how many of us could name the Olympic or world champs on XC or DH for example, let alone one of the world cups.

    If I was to say XCE, how many people in the MTB part of the forum could explain what it is, and which particular British superstar rider rode it this year..?
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • welshkevwelshkev Posts: 9,690
    ddraver wrote:
    Very very few MTBers follow the pro sport, how many of us could name the Olympic or world champs on XC or DH for example, let alone one of the world cups.
    quote]

    Um, in XC no-one I know. But as for DH most of the guys I ride with follow the world cups and world champs. Which was my point earlier about lack of coverage of pro/elite XC racing.

    TBH watching XC racing bores the censored off me, but that's not to say that it shoudn't be covered should it? Surely there's a market for it?
  • ddraverddraver Posts: 21,244
    Massive, in europe. The World XC Champs gets far more spectators worldwide than any of the other events, but not in the UK. Belgium have it on Sporza and stuff (maybe not live)

    Edit - ok not massive, but significantly bigger than you might think.
    We're in danger of confusing passion with incompetence
    - @ddraver
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    I don't follow pro XC racing, and I compete a lot! I watch the odd one, and can generally tell you in any one year who's doing well, but I certainly don't follow it, most of my (racing) friends are the same, with a few exceptions who follow it avidly.

    I know people who've raced in Europe though (Houffalize World Cup etc) and they say that the atmosphere is immense compared to the UK, but then the Dalby World Cup gets a lot of spectators too, so perhaps that's more the calibre of the race.
    I raced cross country since I was wee and had some success in it even at British Level but have slowly shifted to road alongside lots of other people I raced with for a few different reasons.
    - generally cheaper and less parts braking
    -lots more races
    -lots more opportunity to make something out of it (I've still a year left in youth)

    You have a year left in Youth, so you're 14?

    1) you're still 'wee'
    2) let's be honest most of the (little) MTB funding doesn't really kick in until you get to be a Junior, I'm not sure as a first year youth you have given it a chance!

    Therein lies the problem though!
  • TimB34TimB34 Posts: 316
    From reading some of the recent roadie biographies, I get the impression that when Lottery Funding came along, BC had a bit of a eureka moment and realised that due to the number of track medals that were awarded in the Olympics then they could concentrate on that, win loads of medals and get loads of funding. Which is what happened.

    After that , the track program was extended to road, with Team Sky (which is basically BC on the road), which has also been very successful.

    But XC racing is pretty much unknown in the UK (as shown by the comments above) - only two Olympic medals (mens & womens XCO) and a relatively small local scene. I can't see any reason why BC would now turn around and make a big effort for XCO, which is a shame. I guess they might get behind Gravity Enduro, as it'd have more grassroots UK appeal.

    If this impression is correct, then there should have been equal support from BC in XC and road racing prior to Lottery Funding (mid-nineties). Anyone know?
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Could well have been - there's been the BC "Talent Team" for ages, and the World Class Performance Plan (which Liam Killeen was on).

    I think the issue is bigger than that though, the road has always had more money, so if you have a world champion in each the road one will earn you a vast amount more money, as well as publicity etc.

    No real way of over coming that, unless XC (or indeed Enduro or DH) start becoming 'big money'.
  • TimB34TimB34 Posts: 316
    Seems like the World Class Performance Programme has been around since 1997, and is entirely focused on the Olympics : http://www.uksport.gov.uk/pages/wc-perf ... programme/

    Also, we're all forgetting XC Marathon racing (XCM), which is pretty poor considering that one of the best womens racers is British! Interesting quote from her regarding BC here http://www.marathonmtb.com/2012/09/09/c ... ly-bigham/
    What sort of involvement has your national federation had in your progress?

    Absolutely nothing, well apart from the odd ‘good job’ email and sending me National kit every year to race the World Champs. Marathon is not an Olympic discipline so sadly BC aren’t interested.
  • njee20njee20 Posts: 9,613
    Interesting! I suppose you could say that marathon is a niche within a niche, not a defence by any stretch, but I do think it's all about exposure and 'profitability' - what do BC get from investing a marathon (or XC racer) when a similar investment could get them a Cavendish or a Wiggins?
  • lyn1lyn1 Posts: 261
    I can only comment on my own experience with my lads, although this was mirrored by a number of their friends. They were both at the top end of British cyclo cross and MTB and rode at World Champs level. At some point when the bank of mum and dad runs out decisions have to be made (and it cost me a fortune over the years buying bikes for all cycling disciplines and trailing them round GB and Europe to compete). One option is to get a job and ride part time, but progress will inevitably be constrained. Another is to go onto the Olympic MTB Academy (not available for cross), but places are very limited and it means ditching your education. Unlike road, there was not an alternative route for MTB. There are 6 British based UCI Continental road teams with about 70 “pro/semi pro” places available through which income can be generated. You can join these teams and if desired, continue your University education. It’s the route my lads took and was followed by all their mates who were at the top end of MTB and cyclo cross at the time. That was about 4 years ago and they have never done a MTB or cross race since. Most of the top young MTB and cross riders are also accomplished on the road, so switching to a “pro” road squad is not difficult.
Sign In or Register to comment.