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Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up for December 22

Edited by Laura Weislo

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in cyclo-cross. Feel free to send feedback, news and releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com.

Page in Morgan Blue-BSI colours

Jonathan Page (Cervelo)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger

As of this Saturday, Jonathan Page will be seen racing in a blue-red Morgan Blue-BSI outfit. The American, who was second last weekend at the US Elite Men Cyclo-cross Championships, has signed a contract with the Belgian team, according to cyclo-cross.info.

"It's not easy for a foreign rider, especially an American, to race professionally in Belgium," commented Morgan Blue-BSI manager Kurt Tembuyser. "This was the reason why Jonathan couldn't sign a contract with the Sunweb-Pro Jobteam - the costs add up too much. But I, together with BSI, reached an agreement with Page. He can count on us until February 2007. He will stay 'elite without contract', but will receive an important compensation every month. At the end of the season, we will evaluate our cooperation and see if we extend our agreement."

For Page, the first race wearing the new jersey will be the C2 Wachtebeke cross in Belgium this Saturday. The team has designed special gear for the American, also featuring the inscription Page's personal sponsors, Cervelo, Adidas, Mavic, Cyclocrossworld.com and Shimano on the jerseys and bikes.

Page, who made his comeback from rotator cuff surgery at the US championships last weekend, will race a full calendar through the end of February. "I'm very excited about this and very thankful," said Page. "They are really nice people at Morgan Blue. They are supportive of me and of cycling as a whole. They have given me a good contract with the opportunity to re-negotiate after the season. I think that's important for me right now since I am just coming back from a major injury in what had started out to be my best season yet."

Wellens criticises Nys

The #1 of Men Elite Cyclo-cross, Sven Nys, has received another prize for his outstanding performances in the sport: On Sunday, December 17, he was elected "Sports personality of the year" in his home country of Belgium. Still, the "cannibal" is not exempt of some small character flaws - at least not according to Bart Wellens, his direct rival in all the European racing series.

"I've been jealous of Nys," admitted Wellens recently when talking to Het Nieuwsblad. "Not of his professionalism or his perfectionism - I live up to that - but of his results. If he wasn't there, I'd be the superman. But I don't let that get to me anymore. If Nys is the best, then so be it."

Meanwhile, Wellens expressed some concerns as to Nys' attitude within the small world of top cyclo-crossers. "He has to be careful not to intimidate our colleagues," Wellens continued. "Sven now has too much of what he lacked previously: nerve. A lot of guys are disturbed by his comments. Nys sometimes says that he wasn't even in the red. He's hyped and says things for the camera. But he hurts others doing that. As if we raced for nothing - while we give it all as well."

Although Nys seems untouchable yet again this season, the Fidea rider hasn't given up attacking him. "I'm still fighting the duel," Wellens added. "I don't like to be passive. I'm one of the few who still try to do something..."

US 'cross world's selections

Following the completion of the 2006 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships this past weekend in Providence, Rhode Island, five athletes earned automatic nominations to represent the United States at the 2007 UCI cyclo-cross world championships in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium on January 27-28. USA Cycling then announced twelve discretionary nominations for the team . Discretionary nominations were made based on petitions by athletes who met specific performance standards throughout the 2006 season.

Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./Spike)
Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho/Luna)
Christine Vardaros (Lotto-Belisol)
Kerry Barnholt (Tokyo Joe's-Maxiss)
Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella-Kona)
Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M-Vanilla Bicycles)

U23 Men
Jesse Anthony (Beverly Mass./Clif Bar)
Jamey Driscoll (Jericho, Vt./FiordiFrutta)
Bjorn Selander (Alan Factory Team)
Chance Noble (California Giant Strawberries-Specialized)
Nick Weighall (Alan Factory Team)
Dan Neyens (Hagens-Berman LLP)

Junior Men
Danny Summerhill (Centennial, Colo./TIAA CREF-Clif Bar)
Nicholas Keough (CL Noonan-Coast to Coast-KAM)
Sean Worsech (Rad Racing NW)
Jerome Townsend (Alan Factory Team)
Carson Miller (Fred Miller-Lakeside)

Automatic selections for the elite men's category will be announced January 9th and discretionary picks January 10th.

'Cross Camp IV assembles in Europe

Fresh off some excellent performances at US Cyclocross Nationals, Euro 'Cross Camp IV riders have begun assembling in Belgium to tackle the busiest stretch of the European cyclocross season. Started in 2003 by the US national 'cross coach Geoff Proctor, who uses his vacation time from his job teaching high school in Montana to run the camp, this year marks the fourth season for US riders to be given this unique opportunity to prepare for the world championships in late January and to otherwise gain valuable race experience.

Sixteen riders will attend this year's camp based on their 2006 USGP and Nationals performances. Elite National Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona), Barry Wicks (Kona), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly), Erik Tonkin (Kona), and Troy Wells (TIAA-CREF) compose the elite men's group. USGP Espoir and US Collegiate National Champion Jamey Driscoll (Fiordafrutta), Morgan Schmitt (Hagens-Berman), Dan Neyens (Hagens-Berman), Bjorn Selander (Alan), Chance Noble (California Giant Strawberries), and Nick Weighall (Alan) form the U-23's.

Danny Summerhill (TIAA-CREF), Sean Worsech (Rad Racing), Jerome Townsend (Alan), Jim Lennon (TIAA-CREF), and Steve Fisher (Rad Racing) will comprise the juniors team. Due to the limited availability of women's races, no elite women will be part of the program this year.

Race program (* Junior's race):
December 23: Wachtebeke*
December 26: Hofstade - World Cup #9
December 27: Sylvester Cyclo-cross, Torhout *
December 28: Loenhout - GvA trophy #5*
December 29: Middlekerke*
December 31: Diegem - SuperPrestige #5*
January 1: GP Sven Nys, Baal - GvA trophy #6*
January 2: GP De Ster, St Niklaas
January 3: Centrumcross Surhuisterveen

US National 'cross championship round-up

By Steve Medcroft in Providence

Elite men - Trebon makes it look easy

Ryan Trebon
Photo ©: Russ & Nancy Wright
(Click for larger image)

Ryan Trebon (Kona) surged off the front in the first lap of the men's elite race at the California Giant Berry USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships and never looked back. Hunted by a chase group containing three-time national champion Jonathan Page (Cervelo/Hot Tubes), two-time national champion Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai), seven-time national champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly) and Barry Wicks (Kona), Trebon built his lead to more than 30 seconds by the final lap and safely collected his second national championship jersey of the season (Trebon earned the US MTB National Championships in Sonoma, California earlier this year in similar fashion).

Trebon led the 133 elite riders from the start. "The day was perfect," he said at the awards ceremony. "There were a lot of (spectators), the weather was great, the course was in really good shape. I didn't think I would get a gap that fast. I just kept seeing (the other riders) floating away."

See the full report, results and photos here.

Elite women - Compton flawless in Providence

On top of the podium Katie Compton (Spike Shooter/Primus Mootry)
Photo ©: Mark Legg
(Click for larger image)

Katie Compton (Spike/Primus Mootry) won her third consecutive cyclo-cross national championship jersey after a dominating solo effort on Sunday. Compton took an immediate lead of the women's California Giant Berry Farms USA Cyclocross National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island and left a string of talented, powerful women racers in her wake. Only 2006 US MTB national champion Georgia Gould (Luna Chix) had an answer for Compton's pace, dangling thirty seconds behind the former track national champion and Paralympics gold medalist on her own for most of the race.

Although the way she won mirrored her last two 'cross nationals efforts (2004, 2005), Compton credits the mild weather and pristine course conditions for her success. "I won't say (the course conditions) made it easy," she said at the finish, "but they made it less hard. It was nice to have an open course. I was able to pick my lines and ride my pace."

Every woman in the field had to know Compton would apply immediate and devastating pressure. Yet only Gould was able to stay on Compton's wheel in the first lap of the race. "I had a good start," Gould said at the podium presentation. "I got the hole shot. But I just didn't have the legs I was hoping for."

See the full report, results and photos here.

U23 men - Anthony makes it six

Jessie Anthony (Clif Bar)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Jesse Anthony (Team Clifbar) convincingly re-claimed the national championship jersey he has worn six times previously in Saturday's California Giant Berry Farms USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships U-23 Men's race. In a tough, 51-rider field, Anthony, who had won a cyclo-cross national championship jersey every year for six years in a row until Troy Wells took it away from him in 2005, first broke away with former junior national champion Jamey Driscoll (FiordiFrutta).

But Driscoll faded from the lead he built with Anthony, leaving the Beverly, Massachusetts native alone for the win. Driscoll fell back with chasers Morgan Schmitt (Hagens-Berman Cycling) and recently upgraded Elite Junior Bjorn Selander (Alan Factory Team). "I just blew up," a disappointed Driscoll said at the finish line. Unable to match Schmitt and Selander's aggression in the closing laps, Driscoll settled for fourth on the day.

See the full report, results and photos here.

Elite junior men - Summerhill defends

Summerhill with the win.
Photo ©: Ed Collier
(Click for larger image)

Danny Summerhill (TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar) successfully defended his Elite Junior national championship jersey Saturday morning in Providence, Rhode Island. After a strong first lap in the California Giant Berry Farms USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships, only Ethan Gilmour (Coyote Hill) was able to hold on to Summerhill's wheel. But the Boulder, Colorado junior was able to drop even Gilmour and won the race after leading pole to pole.

In fact, the only threat to a Summerhill win was the rider's own mental slip in the early going. "I had a pretty good bobble going in that first lap," he said at the finish. Unable to clip out of a pedal while dismounting for the first barrier, the rider went down. Summerhill says the bobble unnerved him, reminding him of a late-race collision in the 2005 race with now U23 rider Bjorn Selander (Alan Factory Team) that decided the final outcome. So focused on gaining and holding the lead in the race, Summerhill says he wasn't even aware of which rider was holding his wheel. "I couldn't tell you (how I got away), I just remember looking back and he wasn't there anymore."

See the full report, results and photos here.

Nys scores twice over 'relaxed' weekend

By Brecht Decaluwé

UCI-leader Sven Nys, in the middle of an intensive training week, including nights in his high-altitude room, wasn't expecting to be 100% for the races in Essen and Overijse. Indeed, the Belgian wasn't as dominant as usual, but he managed to grab two important victories in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee and the Vlaamse Druivenveldrit. Nys credited his wins to a more conservative race approach. After the GvA race in Essen, he said, "I rode defensively today as I didn't expect too much from this weekend. I did want to be as strong as I could today, but that might have turned out bad." Nys agreed his training gamble was worthwhile, saying "it turned out great as I won the race, so I guess I made the right decisions."

The current leader in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee, Bart Wellens, didn't like Nys' tactics on Saturday; the Belgian was in sight all race long but couldn't keep Nys from victory in Essen. "I went flat out all race long but Nys was very passive. Then he surprised me with an attack and took a hundred metres; it stayed a hundred metres..." said a disappointed Wellens.

The Vlaamse Druivenveldrit is a major classic in the cyclo-cross world; and even though the race is no longer included in a series like the World Cup, Superprestige or GvA-trofee, it’s still a race all the big guns want to win. Some big names were absent in Overijse, most due to illness; there was no Richard Groenendaal at the start nor Fidea-riders Bart Wellens and Klaas Vantornout.

Sven Nys added another big win on his already impressive list of seventeen victories this season in Overijse. In contrary to his defensive racing style in Essen, Nys was already gone halfway through the race. Once gone, nobody got close the UCI-leader again, although Nys suffered from some chain problems during the last lap. “I knew my chain was damaged and realized I needed to climb that hill with as little power as possible, eventually the chain was gone halfway the climb,” Nys explained. A similar incident happened to Nys in Niel earlier this season.

“For a moment I thought it was all over, but my luck was that I could still use my bike in the descent. When I was in front on the top of the hill I realized that I could still win the race,” Nys said. “I’m very happy to win here with the same sensations from two years ago: dominating in the sections where I needed to dominate, steering skillfully without making errors on the descents, riding with slicks which allowed me to maintain my speed on the climb and the road. Eventually my form allowed me do everything that I wanted to do,” Nys explained.

How was he able to win in Overijse, netting two wins in a weekend where he was expected to be off his top form? “That’s just the unpredictability of such a weekend, sometimes luck is on your side and sometimes it doesn’t. This year the ‘relaxed’ weekend wasn’t at all that bad,” Nys said smiling.

Johnson and Bessette top US rankings

The husband and wife team of Tim Johnson (Middleton, Mass./Cyclocrossworld.com) and Canadian Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com) ended the domestic cyclo-cross season atop the overall standings of the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Racing Calendar. The 30-race calendar consisted of all 29 UCI-sanctioned races in the US and concluded with the national championships in Providence last weekend.

Johnson accumulated 790 points to win the elite men's division, while Bessette collected 260 points to take the elite women's overall title. Recently crowned national champions Ryan Trebon (Kona) and Katie Compton (Spike) each finished second in their respective categories. East coasters Matt White (Fiordifrutta) and Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella/Kona) of a calendar that was heavily weighted on that side of the country to take third in the standings.

Men's Final Standings

1 Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com)                    790 pts
2 Ryan Trebon (Kona)                                   610
3 Matt White (Fiordfrutta)                             412
4 Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling Team)         359
5 Tristan Schouten (Trek/Volkswagon/Michelin)          300
6 Mark Mccormack (Clif Bar)                            294
7 Todd Wells (Team GT)                                 281
8 Barry Wicks (Kona)                                   271
9 Michael Cody (Fiordfrutta)                           230
10 Davide Frattini (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home)    133

Women's Final Standings

1 Lyne Bessete (Cyclocrossworld.com)                   260 pts
2 Katie Compton (Spike Professional/ Primus Moo)       248
3 Deidre Winfield (Velo-Bella/Kona)                    209
4 Georgia Luna Gould (Women's MTB Team)                198
5 Maureen Bruno-Roy (Independent Fabrications)         159
6 Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB Team)                 99
7 Kerry Barnholt (Tokyo Joes)                           96
8 Mandy Lozano (Cheerwine)                              87
9 Betsy Shogren (FORT-GPOA)                             87
10 Amy Wallace (RGM Watches-Richard Sachs)              86

Global cyclo-cross roundup

Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races

  • December 23: Wachtebeke, Wachtebeke (Bel) C2
  • December 24: Int. Cyclo-cross Veghel-Eerde, Eerde (Veghel) (Ned) C2
  • December 26: UCI World Cup, Hofstade (Bel) CDM
  • December 26: G.P. Geba Sarl, Differdange (Lux) C2
  • December 26: Int. Radquer Dagmersellen, Dagmersellen (Swi) C2
  • December 27: Sylvester Cyclo-cross, Torhout (Bel) C2
  • December 28: Azencross / Cross des as, Loenhout (Bel) C1
  • December 29: Cyclo-cross Middelkerke, Middelkerke (Bel) C2

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