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Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up for January 24

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.

Favorite wins in Spain

By Monika Prell

José Antoni Hermida fulfilled the expectations and won the Spanish 'cross championship in Alcobendas. According to todociclismo.com, six thousand fans were present. The 28 year old Catalan attacked from the gun, and most of the 75 starters could not follow. Only two of his combatants could come close to his speed - Isaac Suárez (Cantabria) and Oscar Velázquez (Galicia), who won silver and bronze.

The big Basque hopes Unai Yus, José Antonio Garrido and Javier Ruiz de Larrinaga, did not make the podium. Yus was the best Basque finisher in sixth, one minute and 26 seconds behind Hermida. But the Basque federation can be satisfied of this weekend. In the junior category, Jon Ander Manjon was victorious, and in the beginner category, they even reached a double: Jon Gómez and Ińigo Gómez won gold and silver.

Franzoi comes good for Lampre

Enrico Franzoi seems to be reaching peak form just in time for the world championships on Saturday in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. At the C2 race in Zonnebeke (Belgium), Lampre-Fondital's athlete took second place behind Belgian Sven Vanthourenhout. On a course full of mud, Franzoi and Vanthourenhout took the lead, but with two laps remaining, the Italian champion was stopped by a puncture, so he had to accept the second place.

On Sunday, Franzoi repeated his good performance in the 11th race of the cyclo-cross world cup in Hoogerheide. The Italian champion took a satisfying 4th place in the race which was dominated by Belgian Sven Nys. Under a pouring rain, Franzoi had an outstanding second part half of the race, reaching the finish line within five seconds of the podium. Franzoi's placings earned him valuable UCI points, moving him into 20th in the rankings, up from 28th.

Nys is back in control

By Brecht Decaluwé in Nommay

Bart Wellens, Sven Nys and Gerben de Knegt
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwe
Click for larger image
Sven Nys suffered a major defeat during the Belgian National Championships in Hamme-Zogge last week, but has proved that he's back in control by winning the next best thing - another world cup. Rain and the lack of freezing temperatures created a selective course in Nommay, an area in France where Francis Mourey (fdjeux.com) grew up. The French champion was expected to show the crowds that he's capable of beating the best cyclo-cross riders around, and while Mourey started off like a fusée, his hometown supporters suffered a major setback as their hero lost many places, eventually finishing 13th.

Sven Nys (Rabobank) did it the other way around and started like an escargot, but from the third lap on, Nys was in total control of the race. Bart Wellens (Fidea) was the last rider that could keep up with the 'cannibal of cyclo-cross', but nevertheless the Belgian champion had to admit Nys was the best today. "I was good but not good enough, I still felt the Champs in my legs," Wellens said. The Belgian champion was expected to start in the C1 cross around the track of Roubaix, but he didn't start as he suffered dental sores the night before.

Nys held Wellens to more than ten seconds, winning his sixth world cup this season. "Bart [Wellens] is really strong these days but I put him under pressure a whole lap long, eventually I could ride away from him...he cracked," Nys said. Gerben De Knegt showed that he's back after some lesser performances around Christmas, including the loss of his Dutch champion's jersey. "I'm happy that's it's going all right again; it was frustrating to finish around tenth place every time, but back then I couldn't do any better. It's sad I lost my title, but that can't be changed now," De Knegt said.

See the full report, results and photos here.

Nys storms through hail and rain

By Brecht Decaluwé in Hoogerheide

Sven Nys wins his seventh World Cup
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

What could have been the last intensive training session before the world's turned out instead to be an extremely hard race for some riders as hail and rain hammered the elite men in Hoogerheide, near Antwerp on Sunday.

The weather was so bad that soon after the start, some riders decided to call it a day as they suffered the extremely tough race conditions. Bart Wellens (Fidea) who should feature as the main rival to UCI-leader Sven Nys (Rabobank) at the world's next week, abandoned after two laps and was soon followed by many other big names like Richard Groenendaal (Rabobank), Klaas Vantornout (Fidea) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb).

By then the front group was already formed with John Gadret (AG2R), Petr Dlask (Fidea), Christian Heule (Stevens), Jonathan Page (Morgan Blue) and world champion Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) standing tall against the stormy weather conditions. Nys, meanwhile, was steadily recovering from a bad start and finding his way to the front group. "I couldn't follow those guys during the first laps; Heule, Page, Gadret, Dlask … they were all riding way too fast for me," Nys said.

While Nys made contact with the race leaders, Heule and Page dropped back. Halfway through the race it was clear that Dlask, Vervecken, Nys and Gadret would battle for victory. One lap later Nys decided that the speed wasn't high enough and he stormed forward to continue solo. "I intentionally continued my efforts as next week someone might force me to dig deep the whole race long. Anyway I'm feeling much stronger now than a few weeks ago," Nys explained.

See the full report, results and photos here.

Local hero wins in Muhlenbach

Jempi Drucker wins
Photo ©: LP Muhlenback
(Click for larger image)

On a sunny Sunday in Luxembourg, local hero Jean-Pierre Drucker won the international cyclo-cross of the LP Muhlenbach. On a fast and dry circuit, the racing was spectacular, and the decisive move was made only on the very last lap. Czech rider Emile Hekele had the fastest start with the Luxembourg champion Gusty Bausch on his wheel, but on the second lap, nine riders came together in the lead. In addition to Bausch and Hekele, there were also Belgians Daelmans, Soetens, Berden and Govaerts, the Frenchmen Pagnier and Perrin, as well as Drucker.

With three laps to go, four-time winner of the race Arne Daelmans took the lead alone, only to see David Pagnier, Ben Berden and Drucker joining him a little later. On the last lap, Jean-Pierre Drucker attacked on the most difficult part of the lap and took a small advantage. Finally he won the race with a nine second advantage on Daelmans and Ben Berden. Whereas the Luxemburger celebrated his first win in an international elite race, the foreign riders dominated in the other categories with victories from Belgian Stijn Mortelmans in the junior category, Lars Van der Haar (Ned) in the novices, and Imke Hartogs (Ned) in the women's race.

Full results here.

Labbe takes Spanish victory

By Pedro Garcia, in Ispaster

French rider Arnaud Labbe won the 2007 Ispaster Cyclo-cross, in a race that saw 17 of the 41 entrants lapped, with many not making the finish.

The circuit was slippery and muddy, the result of extreme amounts of rain in the hours that proceeded the event. On the first lap Isaac Suarez and Arnaud Labbe had the fastest start. But Labbe was too strong for his counterpart and took to the lead alone and staying there to the end. Spaniard Isaac Suarez took second place with Milan Barenyi claiming third.

Full results here.

Latest UCI rankings

By Brecht Decaluwé

With only days before the Cyclo-cross World Championships are held in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium, this weekend, the UCI has announced its new rankings that will have a direct impact on starting positions. Significantly, the new rankings also have an affect on the Americans expected to line up this weekend. As imagined, Belgian Sven Nys (Rabobank) comfortably leads they way, ahead of fellow Belgian and number two Bart Wellens (Fidea) by almost 1000 points.

Current world champion Erwin Vervecken remains in third. Further down the list there's only one change in the top-10 of the UCI cyclo-cross rankings, as in-form Swiss rider Christian Heule has overtaken Klaas Vantornout at number seven. Vantornout abandoned the World Cup race in Hoogerheide early on while Heule finished fifth in The Netherlands. Another man in form is Czech champion Petr Dlask who continued his move forward from 14th to 11th place.

Italian champion Enrico Franzoi took a little break after a heavy road and cyclo-cross season but he has now moved eight places forward to become twentieth, after good results in Zonnebeke and Hoogherheide. US champion Ryan Trebon moved one spot forward and is the first US rider in at 21st place, while Jonathan Page took another big step forward - overtaking compatriot Timothy Johnson - and he's currently 32nd.

Rankings as of January 22, 2007

1 Sven Nys (Bel)                           3500 pts
2 Bart Wellens (Bel)                       2512
3 Erwin Vervecken (Bel)                    2205
4 Gerben De Knegt (Ned)                    1957
5 Francis Mourey (Fra)                     1718
6 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel)                1708
7 Christian Heule (Swi)                    1575
8 Klaas Vantornout (Bel)                   1550
9 John Gadret (Fra)                        1475
10 Bart Aernouts (Bel)                     1331
11 Petr Dlask (Cze)                        1295
12 Kevin Pauwels (Bel)                     1181
13 Thijs Al (Ned)                          1160
14 Richard Groenendaal (Ned)               1069
15 Simon Zahner (Swi)                      1026
16 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze)                     971
17 Radomir Simunek (Cze)                    941
18 Zdenek Stybar (Cze)                      833
19 Niels Albert (Bel)                       791
20 Enrico Franzoi (Ita)                     761
21 Ryan Trebon (USA)                        751
22 Maarten Nijland (Ned)                    715
23 Davy Commeyne (Bel)                      697
24 Marco Bianco (Ita)                       641
25 Steve Chainel (Fra)                      629
26 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel)                     619
27 Marco Aurelio Fontana (Ita)              608
28 Wilant Van Gils (Ned)                    566
29 Zdenek Mlynar (Cze)                      542
30 David Willemsens (Bel)                   497

1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger)            1967 pts
2 Marianne Vos (Ned)                 1587
3 Helen Wyman (GBr)                  1377
4 Laurence Leboucher (Fra)           1222
5 Birgit Hollmann (Ger)              1188
6 Reza Hormes-Ravenstein (Ned)       1076
7 Maryline Salvetat (Fra)             927
8 Daphny Van Den Brand (Ned)          853
9 Christelle Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra)    694
10 Arenda Grimberg (Ned)              675
11 Veerle Ingels (Bel)                662
12 Susanne Juranek (Ger)              640
13 Vania Rossi (Ita)                  632
14 Nadia Triquet-Claude (Fra)         580
15 Linda Van Rijen (Ned)              491
16 Sanne Cant (Bel)                   463
17 Lyne Bessette (Can)                380
18 Nicole Kampeter (Ger)              378
19 Daniela Bresciani (Ita)            377
20 Gabriella Day (GBr)                366
21 Christine Vardaros (USA)           363
22 Rosa Maria Bravo Soba (Spa)        360
23 Katie Compton (USA)                358
24 Anja Nobus (Bel)                   352
25 Francesca Cucciniello (Ita)        340
26 Milena Cavani (Ita)                310
27 Deidre Winfield (USA)              298
28 Britt Jochems (Ned)                281
29 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned)               265
30 Claudia Seidel (Ger)               255


1 Belgium           8217 pts
2 Netherlands       4186
3 France            3822
4 Czech Republic    3207
5 Switzerland       2846
6 Italy             2010
7 USA               1539
8 Slovakia          1135
9 Germany            973
10 Poland            748

See full rankings for men and women here.

An interview with Roger Hammond

Roger Hammond
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

Continuing to race a discipline that turned him into a classics specialist on the road, but which now offers little reward, Roger Hammond now appears to have a love-hate relationship with cyclo-cross. However, Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé finds that Hammond, with a new team and new colours, will now focus on the future.

The finish of the cyclo-cross race on New Year’s eve in Diegem is part of the Superprestige Series. Not much special was going on - besides the fact that Sven Nys (Rabobank) won for what seemed like the 150th time, which says more about Nys’ level than the other way around. Minutes after Nys’ win, the zone past the finish line was filled up with all sorts of riders, most of the well known riders came in first, but as the clock ticked on, the more unknown riders reached the line.

Late in the day, minutes after Nys rolled through, a Discovery Channel jersey was spotted rolling across the line. It was Roger Hammond, whose kit combined the Discovery Channel strip with the colours of Great Britain, the colours he earned as the national road champion. It was his last day in the Discovery Channel jersey, since he's signed a contract with T-Mobile for 2007, and the day didn't seem to agree with him.

"Argh, it's just a fight in the beginning of this race; I've got to start in the sixth or seventh row behind guys who probably start many races. Then I punctured on the second lap just after my pits and I have only one spare bike so I had to do a complete lap on a flat tyre." No further explanation was needed, Hammond had bad luck that day.

Still, he managed to sneak just ahead of the rather unknown Belgian Jorn Van der Veken to rank 31st. Hammond made it clear that this level of competition doesn't suit him. "I don't know what the UCI is trying to do to cyclo-cross but they're making it for pure cyclo-cross riders. But to cross over like me it's hard; to me, they are killing it… I can't do this anymore, it's just waste of my time," complained Hammond.

See the full interview here.

Turning a new Page

Jonathan Page
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

The story of Jonathan Page's current season is an interesting one; the story begins with high hopes, a minor crash, then a major downturn, a risky return and two hopeful runner-up positions. Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé talked to the determined American about his season so far, and his future plans.

It all started with a minor crash during his warm up before the first big race of the season, the world cup event in Aigle - right next to the UCI headquarters - on October 1st. Page described the mishap that put a major wrench in his season's plans, "It was a stupid little crash really. I was only going a mile per hour or so. I was purposely being cautious as I checked out the slippery turns."

"The problem was that I fell from a sloping downhill onto a flat ground. My front wheel slipped out and I fell just right (or wrong as it turns out) on my forearm/elbow. My shoulder dislocated. I blacked out for a few seconds, put my shoulder back into place, and then blacked out for a few more seconds."

Eventually, Page was brought over to hospital where the doctor misidentified his injury as a simple dislocated shoulder. "So I would just have to wear a brace for 3 weeks and then I'd be all right to race again. I figured on 2 weeks or less... But 2 weeks later, I couldn't pick my arm up myself yet, and when I tried to do the physical therapy that I was supposed to be able to do, my shoulder came out of joint every time and it was incredibly painful."

"My wife noticed that my arm and back were getting increasingly more bruised." Page continued, "I went to see a specialist and was surprised to hear that I would need surgery as soon as possible to repair a completely torn tendon. Two days later I went to surgery and there they found that I had not just one but two completely torn tendons (the two major ones) and had ruptured 8cm of muscle," Page explains about the minor crash and the major downturn.

See the full interview here.

Women's 'cross on DVD

In the 2005 US national championship elite women's race, Maureen Bruno-Roy rips out of the gate, characteristic of her whole season. This time, she has the infamous pair of Anne Knapp and Katie Compton on her wheel. A decisive first lap battle churns out, with Knapp and Compton, emerging on top while 'Mo' battles with Oregon 'cross star Rhonda Mazza.

With those power houses battling it out, a great race at the front ensues. Knapp shows her technical skills, but Compton Powers away to a second consecutive title. This New England classic is now on DVD, and features full race coverage of the finest in elite level cyclo-cross, including multiple camera vantage points, course map, race commentary, rider interviews, and music. For more information, see www.paulweiss.bz/videos05.html.

Global cyclo-cross roundup

Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races

  • January 27 - 28: World Championships, Hooglede-Gits (Bel) CM

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