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Cyclo-cross news & racing roundup for November 28

Edited by Laura Weislo and Paul Verkuylen

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

Vantornout to Sunweb

Belgian Klaas Vantornout (Fidea)
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

Klaas Vantornout will depart his heavy-hitting Fidea squad in favour of the Sunweb-Projob team at the end of the season. The up and coming Belgian signed a two year deal with the team of Jurgen Mettepenningen. The 25 year-old will share team leadership with Sven Vanthourenhout rather than race in the shadow of the Fidea stars Bart Wellens, Erwin Vervecken and Zdenek Stybar. "With this change I want to give my career a push ", said Vantornout to sporza.be. Ranked third in the UCI standings, Vantornout had been offered a contract with Fidea, but decided to forge ahead in search of a bigger challenge. "I wasn't treated badly at Fidea, but I love a challenge."

"At Fidea we had many top riders, but I would like to take the rope in my own hands," Vantornout continued, acknowledging that he would share the spotlight with Vanthourenhout, who has struggled to return to top form after having surgery this summer, and will take the place of American Jonathan Page, who was in conflict with the team management over his race schedule and results.

Page splits with Sunweb

By Brecht Decaluwé

After last week's row between American cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page and his team manager Jurgen Mettepenningen, the two have buried the hatchet. Together with Page's agent Paul De Geyter, a new deal was agreed and that will keep Page in the Sunweb-Projob team until the end of the season. In the official statement, Mettepenningen claimed Page apologised for his behaviour. But when Cyclingnews contacted the rider to hear it from himself, Page explained that both parties had agreed not to comment on what had happened. "I'm happy that the team and I have come to an agreement, so I can move forward with my career," Page said. The rider will be able to ride his own programme, which was the cause of the problems.

Not only did Page dislike the fact that all the team's riders had to show up in every race Mettepenningen wanted them to, the team's other big name, Sven Vanthourenhout, complained about the same issue as well right after Page launched his attack on Mettepenningen. "After the cross in Hasselt, Mettepenningen told me that I was paid to deliver," Vanthourenhout said in Sportwereld. "My performances are suffering under the busy programme the team wants us to ride. Due to the surgery I underwent in July it's too hard for me to ride two races in one weekend. From now on, I'm riding my own programme. I can't have my career destroyed by these ridiculous demands."

In Europe, the professional cyclo-crossers only start in races for which they have negotiated a contract. Clearly, Mettepenningen wanted his riders to start in other races as well, mainly to please his sponsors, who understandably want their name in the picture as much as possible.

Ryan Trebon: the next ex-pat 'cross racer?

Trebon on his trip to Europe
Photo ©: Stijn Vercaemer
(Click for larger image)

US Champion Ryan Trebon's first trip to Europe didn't turn out the way he had hoped, but the lanky Kona rider is hoping to make waves when he returns in December where an invitation to the Super Prestige series is waiting for him. Jackson Weber spoke with the talented rider about his goals for Cyclingnews.

Trebon made an early trip to the season's first World Cup in Kalmthout, Belgium as part of his greater focus on Europe in an apparent need to seek out the greatest challenge possible.

At first, things looked good: "The races were new, but you kinda get used to the swing of things," said Trebon. "In the first race [the Grand Prix de la Région Wallonne] I got seventh." Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. In the days leading up to the World Cup, something happened to Trebon's left leg. He still isn't sure what exactly went awry, but his mysterious leg injury cost him dearly, especially against the European competition. Trebon placed a disappointing 42nd.

The injury took him back to the United States sooner than he had hoped. "Well, right now the plan is to get whatever problem I have with my left leg fixed and working better," explained Trebon. "I can race fast with it as is, but I really feel it when I go à bloc. And racing in Europe right now would be even harder than normal with 1.5 legs." The injury also forced Trebon into unplanned time off, which isn't ideal given the brevity and severity of the 'cross season.

Trebon has recovered, mostly. Though the injury still isn't understood, his two recent wins at the New Jersey USGP races show he still has enough to beat whatever the USA racing scene has to offer. The issue of Europe is a different story. "I love racing in Europe but its hard – really hard," continued Trebon. "I think sometimes people don't quite grasp that fact."

Now as the season progresses, Trebon's two major goals for the season start to loom. "I am really looking forward to heading back [to Europe] in December," wrote Trebon. "But I have a ton of work to do before then... I would really like to defend my US Champs jersey in December and then head over to Europe and just be consistently good at all the races. Maybe pull something out at the Hofstade World Cup."

Read the full feature here.

Nys powers to second World Cup

By Brecht Decaluwé in Koksijde

Sven Nys (Rabobank) showed his superiority on the final lap.
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Sven Nys overcame a seemingly habitual bad start in round four of the UCI World Cup on Saturday in Koksijde and went on to take his second World Cup of the season. The Belgian bided his time to slice through the elite men's field and take his third consecutive victory on the sandy Koksijde circuit with a thrilling last lap surge.

Nys ended up riding in front with team-mate Lars Boom and Fidea's Klaas Vantornout. Dutch champion Boom was the first to drop away after a mistake in the sand, and on the final lap Nys powered away from Vantornout on a tough uphill sector and soloed to victory, while World Champion Erwin Vervecken powered past his fading team-mate to take second, just holding off a surging Lars Boom.

"It's becoming a habit for me to start off poorly, but actually it was my purpose today as there was a headwind in the start line so I searched for some shelter in the group. I got boxed in and I heard riders crashing so I didn't think I was on the right place there," Nys laughed.

"I couldn't ride as fast as I wanted because not everybody has the force to ride up where I normally still would be riding. Anyway, I never panicked and once I wanted to be back in front it worked out in one lap," Nys explained. "From then on the selection was done automatically as everybody makes mistakes sooner or later," Nys said.

See the full results, report and photo here.

Van Den Brand best in the sand

By Brecht Decaluwé in Koksijde

Daphny van den Brand (ZZPR.nl)
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Daphny Van Den Brand confirmed her great early season form by claiming a second World Cup win of the season in Koksijde today. American Katie Compton, winner of the previous World Cup in Pijnacker, had a good start but lost time after crashing in the sand and was joined by world champion Maryline Salvetat and Van Den Brand on the second lap. This trio turned out to be the strongest in the race.

"I'm surprising myself today," said Van Den Brand at the post-race press grill. "I was suffering with my back during the last couple of weeks and doubted my form as well, so I didn't expect to do so well today. After receiving treatment it turned out that only my back was causing problems."

After the finish Compton wasn't disappointed with second although she might have hoped for more beforehand "I'm happy with second place because I was all over the place in the sand. Damage control was the keyword today and that worked out pretty well," she said.

See the full results, report and photo here.

World cup reactions

Bart Wellens (Fidea)

"Extremely disappointed," the Belgian champion told sport.be an hour after the race. "The lap before I bridged across to Nys and Vantornout, I made two small mistakes, which made me think that I had lost the race. But I still had two plans; one to regain contact with the head of the race and one to finish it off in the last lap. Unfortunately, a flat front tyre put an end to my plans. It is, apparently, not supposed to happen in Koksijde. I am satisfied with my race, but with the result, anything but."

Erwin Vervecken (Fidea)

For the first time this season the current world champion has made it onto the podium. "It has been getting better and better the last few weeks, only I have been hanging around the fifth and sixth place. I wasn't sure if I should be happy with that of not," he said. "Today I could finally show that I am worthy of my place at the top. It was only disappointing that I lost 100 meters in the second last lap due to getting stuck on a decent. I lost contact with the leaders because of that."

Vervecken was unsure of his participation as late as Thursday night last week, as he was feeling a bit sick. "I was balancing on the edge," he said. "Thursday night I was afraid that I would suffer the same fate as last year around this time. I had to forfeit here. Ultimately, it was a false alarm."

Bart Aernouts (Rabobank)

The young Belgian rode well to finish an impressive eighth in the tough sandy conditions. "I am not disappointed with that," he said. "But due to a bike change early in the race I was forced to chase. I could eventually catch them as they stalled out front briefly, But that chase cost me too much strength, which stopped me from moving up. Following that I played accordion after the sand sections. Logically I also came in last from the leading group."

Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Pro-Job)

In stark contrast to the Superprestige round in Gavere where he had to abandon, Vanthourenhout raced to a solid seventh place in Koksijde. "Today I am satisfied," he said. "The first half of the race I was really good. At one point I was the only one that could follow the attack of Bart Wellens. I knew then that I was going to find the second half of the race to be tough."

Asked if he came to start irritated by his injury problems, he responded, "Ah, no. I know the problem. That takes time. From medical tests this week I learned that I don't need to panic. I was scared of glandular fever, but there is nothing to worry about. I am still fresh, only I am lacking some specific training. I will be working on that in the coming weeks."

The Flemish star is heading to Mallorca this week along with Sven Nys. "A few easy weeks follow now, which will do me good."

De Knegt, Franzoi bruised but not broken

Gerben De Knegt suffered a heavy crash in the Superprestige in Gieten on Sunday, and it was feared that he had broken his collarbone, but later tests showed no break, just bruised ribs. De Knegt crashed hard on the second to last lap when his front wheel broke on a descent.

De Knegt hopes to recover from the injuries in time to compete in the next round of the World Cup in Igorre, Spain, on December 2.

On Saturday, Franzoi's race in World Cup in Koksijde lasted just 100 meters. During the rush from the line, the Italian Champion was involved in a crash. Franzoi hit the fences and had to abandon because of an injured ankle and head injuries. He, too, hopes to return in time for the Igorre World Cup.

Albert ends Nys' Superprestige streak

By Brecht Decaluwé

Niels Albert gets the win
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

After 13 consecutive wins from Sven Nys in the Superprestige Series, someone has finally ended the Belgian's dominance in this competition. The last time Nys failed to win a Superprestige event was way back on December 24, 2005, but today the UCI leader was beaten in northern Holland by Belgium's biggest talent, 21 year-old Niels Albert.

Albert's win wasn't all that surprising as he had already won the Gazet van Antwerpen leg in Loenhout last year. Combine that with the extra freshness from not racing yesterday's World Cup in Koksijde. The Palmans rider chose not to participate due to his U23 status, despite being clearly capable of giving all the big guns a beating. Albert's remains in the under 23 ranks because he badly wants to win the only title that has eluded him so far - the under 23 world championship.

This season Albert has been struggling to show his talent, but with this victory he grabs his first so-called 'big fish' of the season. "I knew it would happen one of these weeks but I didn't expect it just yet. That it comes now is ideal, because a lot of stress has disappeared now," a clearly cold Albert said. The U23 rider has never lost in Gieten, although it must be said that his previous outings were in the youth races.

"Apparently I've got something with Gieten," Albert smiled. "It's good to be winning in a big match-up like today."

Runner-up Sven Nys wasn't too disappointed about having his winning streak ended in Gieten today. "It had to come to an end one day," he said. "Eventually I finished second so that's good for the overall standing in the series. The freshest rider has won today. I tried to follow but he rode just a little too fast for me."

See the full results, report and photos here.

National champs dominate in Japan

By Kei Tsuji

Keiichi Tsujiura (Bridgestone Anchor)
Photo ©: Hideaki Takagi
(Click for larger image)

Japan's only UCI category two cyclo-cross race held on the shores of Lake Biwa. Five time Japanese champion, Keiichi Tsujiura took out the men's event while current women's national champion, Ayako Toyooka, who has been busy racing a number of world cup races this season took out the womens event.

Held on Miami beach, the 51 strong field of men set off on the grueling sandy course, with many opting to ride on the harder sand found in the water where available.

Shortly after the start, Tsujiura's attack left the rest of the field merely to watch the national champions jersey ride away from them. Behind, two riders from Suwako Racing, Atsushi Maruyama and Masanori Kosaka chased hard, but the gap grew gradually. Masahiko Mifune (Matrix Powertag) recovered from a poor start, passing all but Tsujiura top finish a strong second.

The furious pace set by Tsujiura, who is now aiming to attend some World Cup and Superprestige events, was such that only 14 riders were able to finish. could reach the finish. The champion declared a strong motivation for coming World Cup and Superprestige races.

Current women's national champion, Ayako Toyooka, fresh from racing the World cup rounds in Europe, was too strong for the women's field showing her experience by soloing to finish.

See the full results, report and photos here.

MAC ends in double-header

Verge MAC brings down the curtain on its 2007 campaign with a "classic" double-header of UCI racing on the first weekend of December. Mike Hebe's Carlisle Classic in central Pennsylvania kick-starts the racing weekend on Saturday, December 1 and the traditional season-ending Capital Cross Classic brings international cyclo-cross back to the Washington, DC suburb of Reston, Virginia the following day.

One thing that has changed dramatically for the Pennsylvania leg of the weekend is the new venue at the Carlisle Fairgrounds. After outgrowing its former home in nearby Lower Allen Township, race promoter Mike Hebe has relocated his race to the Carlisle Fairgrounds, site of the some of the world's largest auto shows. The new venue not only provides more infrastructure and a centralized location, it also offers the racers a different kind of challenge. "The new course is fast," said race promoter Hebe. "It may be the fastest cyclo-cross course in America. But there are enough obstacles to mix up the action, and most of the course will be visible from the covered bleachers."

Two of the top contenders for the weekend's Elite Men powered by SRAM races will be Team RGM Watches Richard Sachs teammates Jon Hamblen and Justin Spinelli. Together, they swept the top of the podium at both of North Carolina's UCI races in November. One rider they will have to contend with, at least at Carlisle, is Davide Frattini. The Italian, who rides for the Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Lite pro cycling team, is on a two-race winning streak and will be looking to wrap-up the season title at Carlisle. But he'll only have one chance to clinch the title because conflicting obligations will keep him from participating in Sunday's race.

Details on Verge MAC's "classic" grand finale weekend can be obtained by clicking the Verge MAC button at BikeReg.com. 

Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races

  • December 1: Lower Allen Classic, Camp Hill, PA (USA) C2
  • December 1: USGP of Cyclocross - Portland, Hillsborough (Portland), Oregon (USA) C1
  • December 2: Capital Cross Classic, Reston, Virginia (USA) C2
  • December 2: Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World Cup, Igorre (Spa) CDM
  • December 2: Grand Prix Julien Cajot, Leudelange (Lux) C2
  • December 2: International GP Cyclocross Moos-Sion-Valais, Sion (Swi) C2
  • December 2: USGP of Cyclocross - Portland, Hillsborough (Portland), Oregon (USA) C2

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