One of the biggest tech stories of the current cyclocross season has been the gradual appearance of hydraulic disc brakes within the ranks of the elite men. Lars Van Der Haar won the first two world cup rounds using them, and recently Niels Albert, Sven Nys, and now Philipp Walsleben have all dipped their toes in the water, testing them out at the races.
One of the main arguments for using discs is their advantage in very muddy races, and consistent braking, especially on tough descents. So at the Superprestige Gavere, one of the muddiest courses of the season so far with a long technical descent, we expected to see even more discs on the grid. Instead, apart from Van Der Haar, they were conspicuous by their absence in the men’s race, although the women racers seemed more willing to embrace the technology.
Otherwise, for the riders, it was mud tyres all round, and the main focus was on trying not to jam the bike up with mud and rip the rear derailleur off, something that Gavere has become known for. For the spectators, it was an enormous party, with raucous dancing and singing as darkness fell.