CrossVegas: Thriller in the desert

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Pro men at the starting grid. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Racers wait for the call-up for the Wheelers and Dealers race. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Reigning U.S. cyclocross national champion Katie Compton chatting it up with a friend Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Pink gorilla sighting. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The sandpit where only the pro men managed to ride through. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants

Nice shirt, dude. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Kaitlin Antonneau of Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com waves to a friend during her warmup. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The lead group of the elite women navigating the course Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Almost done. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Crystal Anthony reacts after racing CrossVegas Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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FYI. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Post-race recovery. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Getting Ready. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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The crowd at CrossVegas. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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(L-R) Jeremy Powers, Wout Van Aert, and Michael Vanthourenhout at the line. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Stephen Hyde getting it done in the sandpit. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants

Wout Van Aert cruising to a solo win. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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After. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Elite women's podium. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

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Elite men's podium. Photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

Racing cross at a place named Desert Breeze Soccer Complex is such an irony because it was hardly a breeze. Okay, the weather at CrossVegas this year was noticeably more tolerable but it’s a World Cup damnit. There’s nothing easy about that.

during UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup CrossVegas 2016 at the Desert Breeze Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2016.
When the bikes on the rack cost more than the car hauling them… photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

For the spectators, however, CrossVegas was a blast. Quality racing, great atmosphere, and plenty of hospitality. It’s also a much-needed break from listening to and giving product pitches at InterBike. Two highlights:

Sophie De Boer out sprinted Katie Compton and Katerina Nash on the finishing straight for the win while Nash worked her way to claim second after a crash in the sandpit. Impressive.

Sophie De Boer attacks for the win photo:Stephen Lam/element.ly
The moment Sophie De Boer attacks for the win. photo: Stephen Lam/element.ly

The sandpit got everyone talking about whether anyone would be able to ride through it. The announcers joked it was “the finest sand imported from Tahiti”. The elite men did it like hot knife through butter. Then there was the Wout van Aert’s solo win that was so thrilling that he made it look easy even though it was obvious the warm, dry heat affected just about everyone, including the supposedly ice-cold beers. Still, the turnout and the atmosphere was pretty cool. Can’t wait to go back next year.

The lead group of the elite women race during UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup CrossVegas 2016 at the Desert Breeze Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 21, 2016.

CrossVegas brings first cyclocross World Cup to America

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Always appreciate late starts. Better yet, super late afternoon starts.

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Reigning US Cyclocross Champ Katie Compton (R) chatting it up before the Wheelers and Dealers race.

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What's not to love when there's a shark racing on a bicycle and a Jack Daniel's handoff?

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RV awning makes a good place to stash the stationary roller.

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The BKCP-Crendon boys relax by the CrossVegas cooler

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Plenty of wheels for the Telnet-Fidnea cycling team

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Custom paint job and custom shoes for the legendary Sven Nys. Oh and check out that slick chain guard

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Warming up on the new Feedback Sports Omnium portable trainer

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Erica Zevata of Maxxis-Shimano waits as her mechanic does a last minute adjustment

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Sometimes the best viewing spot is away from the main crowd.

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A pro man checking out the pro women's race

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High-speed high-fives during course inspection

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Ellen Van Loy warms up between RVs

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Noosa Professional Cyclocross team mechanic Daimeon Shanks power washes one of Meredith Miller's race bikes minutes before start.

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A well-organized tool case is crucial for a smooth running pit.

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Photographers getting ready to shoot the women's start

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Sand pit!

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Meredith Miller (Noosa) and Georgia Gould (Luna) push through the sand pit

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A spectator-friendly run-up

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Waiting for the racers to come.

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Katerina Nash solo to the first CrossVegas World Cup win

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Boulder Cycle Sport / YogaGlo's Crystal Anthony rests on the grass after finishing 7th

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An exhausted Arley Kemmerer at the finish

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The winners of the women's CrossVegas World Cup

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And here comes the pro men.

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The always chaotic start

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The pit at CrossVegas saw much less action compared to a typical Cyclocross World Cup which is usually held in colder and wetter conditions (and in Europe), but teams took zero chances and had multiple backup bikes and wheels

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The king welcomes the racers and dusts through the sand pit with open arms.

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... Another reason to have a backup at the pit.

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Corne Van Kessel gives chase through the barriers

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Eventual winner Wout Van Aert leads Sven Nyst through the Raleigh Ramp...

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While reigning US Cyclcross Champ Jeremy Powers opts to ride on the grass instead

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The top of the Sram race truck makes a nice race vantage point.

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Anti-doping controls. Don't ever miss this.

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The winners of the men's CrossVegas world cup

Over this past year or so I kept asking myself what draws me to want to photograph cycling. I love riding my bike and thanks to my understanding wife (love ya babe) I was able to do some very cool projects. Gravel Worlds, Tour of California, and now CrossVegas.

The beauty of photographing cycling is the access and the creative freedom it allows. With the amount of PR and handlers involved, access to pro athletes is such a rarity these days. But at CrossVegas, you can just walk up to pro guys like legendary Sven Nys and Katie Compton and say hello, check out their fancy super bikes, talk more trash, and make fun happy snappies. Trying to do that at a NFL/MLB/NBA game will result in your credential getting pulled and never to be seen again.

We at Element.ly were fortunate to go behind the scenes with Team Hincapie at this past Tour of California and we’re stoked to photograph CrossVegas given that it’s the first time that a WorldCup Cyclocross race is taking place in America.

Shooting CrossVegas after spending a day on the show floor at the annual InterBike convention is really akin to working a second job after a long day at the office. But the crowds! The crowds were amazing and the racing was straight up badass. Wout Van Aert and Katerina Nash drilled it.

Anyways, time to head back to the InterBike show floor. Enjoy the gallery and stay tuned for our InterBike coverage!