How to pronounce cyclocross names, places, and terms

Cyclocross brings a mix of Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Czech and many more riders to courses all over the world. Bicycling racing in general already has its own unique vocabulary, and cyclocross even more so. But reading these names in print can be like a guessing game. Accent marks in strange places, silent letters, and so on don't make a lot of sense to American fans trying to follow a streaming broadcast in a foreign language. 

These are my best suggestions on how to pronounce popular rider names and race locations from the perspective of an American fan. I've used common USA-English words for reference. 

Spreek je Nederlands? (do you speak Dutch?) - let me know of any mistakes or improvements using @RideCX on Twitter or send me an email. 

Diegem is a town in the Flanders region of Belgium, Flanders being the Dutch-speaking portion of Belgium (Wallonia, where French is more common, being the other.) Diegem is the home of a popular night race, held under floodlights in the city center each year around Christmas. "Die" sounds like "dee" (rhymes with the "tee" from "tee shirt" and "gem" sounds like the English word "chewing gum". Dee-gum.

Mathieu van der Poel
From what I hear on Euro TV streams, the "Poel" sounds more like "swimming pool" than "barber pole" for the newly-crowned World Champ.

Maud Kaptheijns
Oh no. Don't panic... for Americans if you say it like "the captains of those ships" it might be passable. "Maude Captains". 

Location of the most recent cyclocross World Championship in Denmark, sounds to me like the Danes say "Bone-suh" with barely a hint of the "G" in the middle. 

Sanne Cant
Belgian Sanne Cant recently won her 3rd consecutive Elite Women's World Championship. It's not "sunny" like the weather, but more like "suh-nuh" and "Cant" rhymes with "want, taunt, gaunt". 

kop van de wedstrijd
This means the head of the field, the leaders, the front of the race. "wed" rhymes with the English bed, dead, led, but put a little V on the front instead of a W, so it sounds like "ved". Then "strijd" basically sounds like "stride", so "ved-stride".

The chasers - the riders behind the kop van de wedsrtrijd who are trying to get to the front. The "acht" part rhymes with the English "dock" or "mock" not "back" or "tack". The "g" comes out with a bit of the "h" sound in the English word "her". Tough one! 

Zdeněk Štybar
is a Czech fan favorite and former cyclocross World Champion. He's mostly a road cyclist now but still shows up sometimes during the 'cross season to entertain fans with the occasional tailwhip. For an English speaker to pronounce his name, try "den-eck" ("z" is mostly silent) "shty-bar" with the "ty" sounding like the "tee" from "tee shirt" and "bar" like a candy bar. So "den-eck shty-bar". Sorry to any readers from the Czech Republic for butchering this one! 

Another popular race location. Rhymes with "steal" or "feel" with a slight "uh" on the end. "Leel-uh". 

Some easy ones:

To the best of my knowledge, there are also quite a few that are pronounced pretty much exactly the way a native English speaker might imagine when reading them on paper. These include: 

the Koppenburg
Name of a big hill and popular cyclocross race location; the "koppenburgcross" which includes a climb on a cobblestone road. 

A bike. Sounds like "Feets". Easy!

Laura Verdonschot
Belgian phenom Laura Verdonschot's name rolls right off the tongue for Americans, "Laura Ver-don-shot". 





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