Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up for February 2
Edited by Laura Weislo
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in cyclo-cross.
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Nys gets consolation win in Maldegem
Sven Nys rebounded from his disasterous World Championships by winning
a small Belgian 'cross race in Maldegem this week. Nys finished ahead
of Niels Albert and David Willemsens, and rainbow-jersey clad Erwin Vervecken
was a distant sixth. Vervecken said he was tired from all the post-worlds
festivities, and that he also had a sore back from the fall he had at
Nys may not have the rainbow jersey, but he will find some consolation
in the fact that he has a strong chance of winning the overall GvA trophy
and Superprestige series. With Wellens out with a broken wrist, Nys holds
a lead of 34 points over Niels Albert in the GvA Trophy, and 33 point
lead over Vervecken in the Superprestige. The GvA trophy continues in
Lille on Saturday, and will conclude in Oostmalle on February 18. Sunday's
Superprestige event will be held in Hoogstraten, Belgium, and the finale
will be in Vorselaar on February 17.
Vannoppen injures shoulder
Tom Vannoppen, who is still to try to come back to top form after taking
time off earlier this season while being treated for depression, has had
another setback. He crashed badly in Maldegem, hitting his face and dislocating
his shoulder. But despite the injury, Vannoppen still wants to try for
a good result in this weekend's race in Lille. "The muscles around
the shoulder are very stiff, but I still have two days time to recuperate."
Vannoppen told Sporza, "I want to try to conclude my season
Wellens wants payback
Bart Wellens (Belgium).
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Bart Wellens started the Cyclo-cross World Championships with a dream
of wearing the rainbow bands, but his hopes were quickly dashed when a
camera ATV clipped a plastic barrier, sending it careening into his path
early in the race. Wellens crashed hard, and unbeknownst to the Belgian,
he fractured his wrist in the fall, and now he wants the organisers of
the race to pay.
Wellens gritted out the pain to finish in fourth place, a remarkable
feat for most riders with two good arms. "I could no longer lift my bicycle...
but with 30,000 men shouting in the stands, you don't give up" he told
But obviously, one step off the podium wasn't where Wellens planned to
finish. "They have taken a lot away from me today," said Wellens, "a beautiful
jersey and a heap pennies also."
He had a clean break in his wrist that did not require surgery, but Wellens
will spend four weeks with the arm in plaster, miss seven races worth
of start money and prize purses during that time. The Fidea Cycling Team
manager, Hans van Kasteren intends to lodge a complaint with the UCI.
Season over for Soetens
Cyclo-cross racer Jan Soetens has hung up his bike for the season after
struggling to return from a shoulder injury following a crash in the World
Cup race in Kalmthout in October. Soetens had a promising result in the
week before the crash, taking a top ten at the opening Superprestige round
Due to a long recovery period, Soetens was left off of the Belgian team
for the World Championships, and, according to his Jartazi team, an illness
forced him to stop racing for the rest of the season.
World Cup heading for US
By Brecht Decaluwé in Kotrijk
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
During the presentation of the next cyclo-cross world championship in
Treviso, Cyclingnews talked to Peter Van den Abeele about next
year's World Cup. Van den Abeele, UCI cyclo-cross coordinator, said that
the UCI certainly plans to have a World Cup event in the US. "We've
left space during the weekend of October 6 and 7 but it's still unsure
where the race will take place," Van den Abeele said.
Cyclingnews previously reported the
news about the World Cup, but the Belgian confirmed the race will
be held in Providence. "It's 70% sure that the organization will
be held in Providence, Rhode Island. The European top riders agree with
this as the World Cup race will be combined with another big UCI-race
during that week. The top 25 of the UCI will fly together to the US on
a flight chartered by Sven Nys," Van den Abeele said.
Many American riders have stated they would love to see the World Cup
coming abroad. Sunday, Katie Compton, who finished second place at the
world cyclo-cross championships, said to Cyclingnews, "We
need to have the World Cup in the US." Compton is one of three Americans
who earned silver medals at the worlds this year. The improved American
performances may be the inevitable result of the increasing popularity
of cyclo-cross in the US.
US champion Ryan Trebon (Kona) was delighted to hear the news but warned
the organizers. "The course in Providence is way too fast, it would
end up in a bunch sprint," Trebon said.
Both riders participated in the world cyclo-cross championships, held
in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium, this weekend. Read Cyclingnews' complete
coverage, including race reports, full results, and photos of the elite
men's and elite
'Cross worlds round-up
Adams victorious, Summerhill a surprise second
By Brecht Decaluwé in Hooglede-Gits
Start of the junior men's race
Photo ©: Mitchell Clinton
Two races were scheduled on Saturday at the worlds in Hooglede-Gits,
Belgium: the junior
and U23 men were to battle for the world title. The low countries of the
Netherlands and Belgium have been dominating the cyclo-cross worlds lately,
and 15,000 spectators showed up to watch their young stars shine.
The junior race is always unpredictable at worlds because the young men
don't compete with each other often during the season, but the Belgian
World Cup winner fully met expectations when he became the new world champion.
Six riders remained in contention going into the ultimate lap. Eventually,
it came down to a sprint in which Joeri Adams clinched the biggest win
of his young career.
Most spectators were surprised to see American rider Danny Summerhill
finish second. By claiming a medal at the cyclo-cross worlds, Summerhill
follows in the steps of Walker Ferguson (silver in 2000) and Matthew Kelly
(gold in 1999). Ferguson and Kelly battled with Belgians Bart Aernouts
(Rabobank) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb), guys who will both race Sunday
in the elite men's category, unlike those two American heros themselves,
who have disappeared from the scene. Summerhill has proven that he has
talent, but the real work of his career is just beginning.
To read the full report and results for the junior race and see photos,
Boom takes the reins
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
The U23 race was dominated by Dutchman Lars Boom (Rabobank) who outclassed
his competition. Leading up to the race, Boom and rival Niels Albert (Palmans)
kept a media battle going in which they tried to make each other nervous.
However, Albert finished nowhere near the wheels of Boom; in fact, he
was over a minute down. The Dutch champion said he would compete in more
cyclo-cross races from now on, while Albert promised to win the title
next year. No American riders anywhere near the front on Saturday afternoon,
with Jamey Mullet Driscoll first American in 36th position.
On Sunday, the elite riders will compete in Hooglede-Gits. German champion
is the favourite in the women's race, and Sven
Nys (Rabobank) tops the favourites list in the men's race.
To read the full report and results for the U23 race and see photos,
Mourey out of worlds after crash during training
One outsider for the victory in the men's race is out of contention.
Francis Mourey (fdjeux.com) fell on his head during a training session
on Friday afternoon as
reported yesterday. The number three at the worlds in Zeddam (2006)
was brought over to hospital where they determined Mourey suffered a minor
concussion and a wound above his eye. He left the hospital, but will certainly
not compete Sunday.
Salvetat surprises in Belgium
Maryline Salvetat takes gold
Photo ©: AFP
In a major surprise in the women's race, German Hanka Kupfernagel was
unable to convert her pre-race favourite status into a world title while
Maryline Salvetat nailed an unexpected win. Kupfernagel had a great start,
but halfway through the race she suffered a pedal-related mechanical and
then dropped back from the lead. Defending champion Marianne Vos from
The Netherlands was never in contention for the title either, and when
her compatriot Daphny Van Den Brand crashed, it was clear an outsider
would grab the title.
US national champion Katie Compton came close to the win, but faced an
unfair battle against two French ladies. Laurence Leboucher dropped the
pace while riding in second position thereby forcing Compton to close
the gap in the final moments of the race. Compton made a valiant effort,
but could not regain the wheel of Salvetat before the final straight.
An emotional Salvetat won the gold in front of Compton and compatriot
Maryline Salvetat (France),
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
"I had a bad start as an Italian girl blocked the road. It took me more
than a lap to come back. I only started to believe in my chances when
there was only 400 metres to go. I didn't raise my hands as I didn't know
where Compton was, but I can assure you that I'm really excited," Salvetat
Tomorrow the newly crowned world champion drops back into the real world
though as a day at the office awaits, Salvetat works as an osteopath.
Last year, the 32-year-old almost decided to quit racing but luckily a
visit to Africa gave her a revived view of the sport. "I arrived here
with a mind to do well. I had energy and form," she said.
The French women exploited their numerical advance to keep Compton from
the victory. "Actually we didn't talk before the race, we know each other
so well that everything automatically happens," Salvetat explained.
To read the full report and results for the women's race and see photos,
Vervecken gets three, favorites unlucky
Belgian Erwin Vervecken
Photo ©: AFP
About 30,000 spectators witnessed a tumultuous world championship at
the "Domenico Savio" park in Hooglede-Gits. Defending world
champion Erwin Vervecken extended his world title this afternoon. After
taking third in 1994, he managed five more podium results since then and
now is on top of the world again.
"It was a very, very special race as so many things happened; to
me, it was just like a movie or a dream," Vervecken said.
With this win, the 34-year-old Belgian makes up for a troubled season
where he grabbed only one major victory at the World Cup in Hofstade.
He has again proved himself a great championship rider. "I don't
like that term, but I can understand it; I don't win a lot, but I can't
help it that the favourites often fail at the championships," Vervecken
"This is the most hard-won title of the three, winning it at home
adds to that of course. It was a very special atmosphere today; during
the ultimate hundred metres I couldn't hear anything like being in a disco!
I didn't have a clue where Page was," Vervecken described the hectic
final and his rival there. "He had a troubled season but he's fresh.
I did 40 races and that makes a big difference."
Big favourites Sven Nys (Bel) and Bart Wellens (Bel) were set back by
pure bad luck. While riding in the lead, the duo were brought down by
a plastic block that was touched and knocked over by the TV quad. Both
continued the race, but while Wellens fought back to reach fourth, Nys'
bad luck continued; he finished eleventh.
With many favourites out of contention for the world title, the outsiders
stepped up. At first, it was former world champion Richard Groenendaal
(Ned) who took the initiative, but he crashed out as well. Italian champion
Franzoi then stormed forward together with former US national champion
Jonathan Page (USA). While Franzoi couldn't keep the pace of the American,
Vervecken pushed ahead.
In a tense final lap, it was Vervecken who entered the final straight
with a little gap. Page took the silver medal and headed for the arms
of wife Cori and young daughter Emma. The 30-year-old American, who lives
in Belgium near Oudenaarde, was delighted although he started off cynical
when describing his performance.
"I thought I was okay today," Page smiled. "This is the
start of my future today, so I'll be around for a few more years."
The US rider battled for victory, but came a little short in the end.
"I hoped to win gold, but it all came down to the last little hill
where he had a good run and I didn't."
To read the full report and results for the men's race and see photos,
Page celebrates career highlight
By Brecht Decaluwé in Hooglede-Gits
US rider Jonathan Page celebrates
on the podium
Photo ©: AFP
After grabbing the United States' first-ever medal in the Elite Men's
division at the Cyclo-cross World Championships, Jonathan Page had many
reasons to celebrate. The second placed Page was interviewed on Belgian
TV and radio as they wondered who the relatively unknown American was.
Page charmed the Belgian audience by saying some Dutch words and expressed
that he deserved his second place. "That's the world championships,
you never know what you're going to get on this day. [The Europeans] had
all the pressure in the world and maybe it got to them… you have to be
lucky today also," Page said.
At the post-race press conference Page expressed his joy to the written
press and pointed out that he made a huge comeback: "I'm coming back
from injury and I saved my season over here. My dreams are coming true."
After the doping control Page quickly went back home to Oudenaarde with
his wife Cori and two year-old daughter Emma to freshen up before heading
to his friends at the Brasserie in Avelgem. There were no huge
crowds there to gather around the podium finisher, as Page just isn't
one of them - he's a stranger in Belgium, but Page didn't mind. “I don't
need more friends, they help me to achieve my goals and that's what's
most important," Page said.
He still wondered how it was possible to pull off what he did, but realised
this performance needs confirmation. "Today my new career starts,"
and that's probably why Page didn't touch the famous Belgian beers…okay,
that's a lie. Page did touch a couple of those Belgian beers and treated
his friends to a few rounds, even serving as bar tender himself.
Cyclingnews was there in Avelgem and also talked to some people
who work with the successful American cyclo-cross rider. Former triple
world champion Mario De Clercq trained with Page and coached him for many
years. "His technical skills are awesome, they equal those of Sven
Nys; but he hasn't got Nys' power," De Clercq said. "It's a
pity he didn’t win today; I can tell you it makes a huge difference coming
in first or second at the worlds. If he would've won the race he [financially]
would've made it."
Franky Van Haesebroucke, Page's mechanic and close friend, has helped
the American for many years. "We met in the US and Page said to me
that he wanted to live in Belgium to become a better rider," explained
Van Haesebroucke. "We took him in at our place and he didn’t need
much time to find his way." The former Navigators coach also gave
Page some tactical help during the race. "Halfway I told him to stay
on the wheel of Franzoi for a while, as he used lots of energy to get
where he was. Before the worlds some people asked me whether Page would
start but I guess they know by now," he laughed.
Page's current sponsor Kurt Tembuyser from Morgan Blue was happy with
his investment. "Page was searching for a team, but he was injured
and nobody wanted him, then we were there to offer him a
contract. We will offer him a better contract for next year, but if
he can improve his situation we wish him good luck," said Tembuyser,
who has harvested riders such as Klaas Vantornout and also Maxime Lefèbvre
in his team.
Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races
- February 3 - Krawaten Cross, Lille (Bel) C1
- February 4 - Superprestige, Hoogstraten (Bel) C1
- February 10 - Grote Prijs Eecloonaar, Eeklo (Bel) C2
- February 11 - GP Heerlen, Heerlen (Ned) C1
- February 17 - Superprestige, Vorselaar (Bel) C1
- February 18 - Sluitingsprijs Oostmalle, Oostmalle (Bel) C1
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