Rubbing is Racing. In cyclocross this saying holds true, for the most part. In some circumstances contact can be hard to avoid. With so many riders jockeying for position in corners an errant elbow or shoulder can be expected, and in most cases it is harmless. Part of excelling in cross is learning to be comfortable and confident when the pack gets tight and being able to hold your own when forced off your line and jostled by those around you. Good bike handling skills can help get you out of tricky situations, but not always.
There are, on the other had, certain instances that push the acceptance level of the “rubbing is racing” slogan. When adrenaline is surging and tempers flare, a shove of the shoulder can lead to a crash. Here are a few examples where it could be argued that the rider on the receiving end may not exactly agree with that motto. What do you think?
A Flick of the Elbow
Ben Berden demonstrates that sometimes all that is needed is a flick of the elbow to clear the way. It seems innocuous enough, but it was enough to send the rider to the ground. I believe it was a lapped rider, who maybe should have cleared the way a bit, but it still seems a bit excessive.
The Gap That Wasn’t There
When trying to shoot through a gap, there better be enough room. It’s up for debate who, if anyone, was in the wrong here but high speeds and tight spaces are usually not a good mix.
The Passive Block
Normally if I crash I try to clear the way for those behind me, but when racing at a higher level, this isn’t usually the way it’s done. Here Klaas Vantornout casually collects his bike and move in front of an approaching Rob Peeters causing him to have to dismount. It’s a nice little move that halts the action momentarily for Klaas to get back into it. It ended up being the decisive move that helped seal the 2015 national Victory for Vantournout.
In the 2012 Bpost Bank Trofee in Essen, Zdenek Stybar and Jan Denuwelaere were locked in a sprint for the finish which saw Stybar trying to pinch Denuwelaere, perhaps a little bit too hard. Stybar explained apologetically after the race that he was trying to shut the door, and leaned too hard and lost his balance, sending Denuwelaere to the ground. The officials deemed that in this case rubbing was definitely not racing, and disqualified Stybar, awarding the win to Denuwelaere. To make amends for the incident, Stybar sent a now famous “sorry cake” to Denuwelaere.
The Tire Grab
In this year’s Australian National Championships I think it’s pretty clear in this case that the contact was in no way incidental. Without having been there, it’s hard to know what else transpired during the race, but a regardless of how angry you might be, grabbing a tire probably isn’t the best finishing move.
and from another angle
What do you think? How do you deal with these situations during a cross race?