We're catching up with Kiwis who made the news last year. Today: Alex Revell.

When he got to Belgium, Alex Revell was just a passionate cyclist with an unnervingly large moustache, a fledgling bank account and a wish to race in the national cyclocross circuit.

Now he is a sponsored cyclocross rider, a national cyclocross champion and a celebrity - but not in his home country. "Nobody really knows me in New Zealand, but I can't really walk down the street in Flanders [where he lives in Belgium while racing] without being stopped for a photo, an autograph, or just a friendly chat.

"It's been an amazing ride, forgive the pun," Revell told the Herald.

At the invitation of several sponsors, Revell returned to Europe in November, where an arrival party greeted him at the airport, including a national TV crew and a welcome package from Red Bull. "The response from the locals to my return ... has been unbelievable. It's like I never went away. It's very humbling."


It all happened rather quickly for Revell. In his first season, some local media attention catapulted him from a lonely unknown to a local favourite, mainly on account of his enormous moustache, which had been growing for a year at the time. People started shouting support from the sidelines for De Snor - meaning The Moustache in Flemish.

A local team befriended him, supplying a support crew and selling T-shirts adorned with a moustache logo to help him pay for his racing.

Last January he flew to Kentucky, in the United States, to race for New Zealand at the World Cyclocross Championships. He came 38th. Then at the end of the season, he had his furry friend shaved off on Belgian national television by the wife of Belgian cyclocross legend and world champion Sven Nys.

Back in New Zealand, he won the NZ Cyclocross Championships in August, and was then invited to Beijing, China, to race in September.

Ricoh NZ decided to help Revell return to Europe for a second season, where he is racing until early this month. He also wears Bioracer clothing, and shoes and helmets by Mavic.

"And then a small family-run Belgian bike company called Nichelson Bicycles are helping me with all my equipment and taking me to races.

"It's by far the best prepared I've ever been for riding and racing, for which I am very grateful."

His main aim for this season is to continue improving on last year's performances, although a recent crash in Wellington may be a setback.


But it has not dampened his spirit - or his gratitude for his handlebar.

* Riders navigate short laps of a course laden with obstacles such as pavement, forest trails, grass and steep hills that requires them to constantly dismount and carry their bikes.

* Races last between 30 minutes and one hour and consist of many laps of a short course, usually ending when a time limit is reached rather than the course completed.