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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up for December 8

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.

Nys still second to Boonen in Belgium, but leads UCI rankings

Sven Nys
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Click for larger image

Nys has finished second behind Boonen in the competition for the "cristal bike" award in Belgium. Boonen received twice as many points as the cyclo-cross superstar. Nys was dissapointed, but expected that he wouldn't win it. Despite his sheer domination in cyclo-cross, where he has won the majority of the races he's entered (except for the world championship) he was unable to get near Boonen. Nys told cyclocross.info, "Maybe it's because I couldn't extend my world title, but the same counts for Boonen. Nevertheless, Boonen showed great things last year."

Current world champion Erwin Vervecken chalked Nys' defeat to the higher popularity of road cycling, saying, "Many (former) road riders still underestimate the level of cyclo-cross. And if people from the cyclo-cross world don't vote for a cyclo-cross rider then you can never win."

Meanwhile, Nys still continues to lead the UCI rankings for 'cross, ahead of Bart Wellens (Fidea) by nearly 800 points. Wellens made great strides in the past month, soaring from fourth to second place by finishing second to Nys in Igorre and Koksijde. Vervecken's illness kept him out of round six, and misfortunes in Igorre kept him out of the top ten, dropping him from second to third in the UCI rankings.

Elite Men - UCI Ranking Points (as of December 4, 2006)

1 Sven Nys (Bel) 2390 pts 2 Bart Wellens (Bel) 1604 3 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 1371 4 Gerben de Knegt (Ned) 1277 5 Francis Mourey (Fra) 1272 6 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) 1181 7 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) 1143 8 Christian Heule (Swi) 911 9 John Gadret (Fra) 825 10 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) 823 11 Bart Aernouts (Bel) 791 12 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) 740 13 Radomir (Jr) Simunek (Cze) 718 14 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) 630 15 Simon Zahner (Swi) 608 16 Thijs Al (Ned) 578 17 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) 571 18 Zdenek Mlynar (Cze) 477 19 Marco Bianco (Ita) 469 20 Steve Chainel (Fra) 436

Willemsens out with knee problems

David Willemsens
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
Click for larger image

David Willemsens will not becompeting in Friday's world cup in Milano due to knee problems. The Belgian national coach, Rudy De Bie told cyclocross.info that Willemsens let him know so he could give the reserves a chance. "I called both Jan Soetens and Arne Daelmans but they thanked me for the offer [and declined], claiming they didn't want to make the car drive to Milano."

"Both riders are competing in Huybergen and Hamme-Zogge this weekend, but it's strange that they would refuse the chance to compete in the world cup. They should know the expenses are paid back with the fee they get for competing in a world cup event. In my time, we would already be driving direction Milano." This means that the Belgian selection for Milano will consist of only nine riders, instead of the possible ten.

Nys is nigh-unstoppable

By Laura Weislo

Sven Nys (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Aitor Ruiz de Zarate
Click for larger image

Sven Nys won the sixth round of the cyclo-cross world cup in Igorre, Spain, dominating the field in his typical fashion, with nobody coming close to challenging him. This marks Nys' fourth world cup win of the season. Chasing behind Nys were Fidea's Bart Wellens and Frenchman Francis Mourey, winner of round four of the world cup. Wellens at one point closed to within metres of Nys, but the UCI leader pressed on, and lengthened his lead. Wellens was the only rider to hold Nys to within a minute, coming in 53 seconds in arrears, while his teammate Klaas Vantournout passed a fading Mourey on the last lap to take the third step of the podium.

Nys began the world cup series with a win in Aigle, then went on to a second victory in Kalmthout before suffering back-to-back defeat in Tabor and Treviso. Nys came back to the top on the muddy course of Pijnacker, and tackled the difficult sand dunes of Koksijde with ease just last week.

The cyclo-cross world cup continues Friday in Milan, Italy, and then comes back to Belgium for the post-Christmas round. Sven Nys looks to be utterly uncatchable, but can he hold his form all the way through to the world championships in Hooglede at the end of January? Nys feels confident of his condition, hinting at the possibility that he hasn't yet reached his peak. "I don't think I've ever ridden stronger, but I've already said that in the past."

See the full report, results and photos here.

Capital 'cross closes out Verge MAC series

The always aggressive Jon Hamblen
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
(Click for larger image)

The capital 'cross classic, held in the Washington, DC suburb of Reston Virginia, is the traditional season-ending race for the Verge MAC series, and the race where season titles are decided. The men’s race saw a surprise when former Swiss U23 Champion Michael Muller showed up. "I’m visiting my friend Jon Hamblen," he said. Having spent the past several years in agriculture school, Muller has been using the 2006 season as his reintroduction to international cycling.

The early laps saw the front of the field repeatedly stretch and come back together before Muller and Wisconsin’s Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW/Michelin) rode away with Jon Hamblen (RGM Watches/Richard Sachs) in pursuit. With two laps to go, Hamblen finally caught the two leaders after a long chase. But the race would be won at "Gambler’s Gulch," a short run-up with two small fallen tree trunks followed by a quick downhill. As had been proven throughout the day, it was possible to ride the section but there was little benefit (and a bit of risk) in doing so. On the last lap, Muller, Schouten, and Hamblen hit Gambler’s Gulch together with Muller in front. Muller elected to ride the section while the other two ran. Running seemed to be the better choice for a couple of seconds, but then Muller exploded down the following hill while the others remounted and gained a gap that he held to the line ahead of Schouten and Hamblen.

A familiar sight: Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella-Kona)
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
(Click for larger image)

In the UCI women’s race, Mo Bruno-Roy of Independent Fabrications took the hole-shot. But, it was this season’s revelation Deidre 'Grasshopper' Winfield of Velo Bella/Kona who was able to take advantage of the course conditions for yet another significant victory. Using the hairpin turn after the pits as a launching pad, Winfield was able to blast-off down the long, paved downhill straight that followed. She was visibly faster than all of her competitors as the fast section carried the racers across a dam.

Behind the leaders, Melanie Swartz (Velo Bella/Kona) and Betsy Shogren (FORT Factory Team) sprinted toward a controversial third place finish. Shogren won the sprint, but was later relegated. A visibly upset Shogren was not happy. "I'm the first to admit if I did something wrong," she said later, “but I don’t feel I did anything wrong."

Still, the result was good enough to crown Shogren as Verge Mid-Atlantic series champion. Shogren, who won the 2003 and 2004 titles before her marriage as Betsy Schauer, becomes the first three-time Champion in the history of Verge MAC. Shogren took advantage of Winfield's absence to take round 6 and round 7 of the series, and these two wins were enough to push her over to the lead on points.

In the men's series, anther Fort-sponsored rider came out on top. Weston Schempf (Fort frames), who won round 6, edged out Ryan Leech (Meredith Group/GPOA/Cannondale Elite Cycling Team) to take the series. Jamie Driscoll (FiordiFrutta Elite Cycling Team) dominated the men's under-23 category by winning his division in the four rounds he attended, while Tyler Brown came out on top in the Junior men's division.

Final series standings

Elite Men

1 Weston Schempf (Fort Frames)                                      495 pts
2 Ryan Leech (Meredith Group/GPOA/Cannondale Elite Cycling Team)    443
3 Tristan Schouten (Trek/VW/Michelin)                               428
4 Davide Frattini (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home Winery)           377
5 Peter Rubijono (HarrisCycleryRacing.com)                          359

U 23 Men

1 James Driscoll (FiordiFrutta Elite Cycling Team)                  480 pts
2 Erik Mitchell (Quaker City Wheelmen)                              330
3 Brian Hayes (RGM WATCHES - RICHARD SACHS - REX CHIU)              255
4 Stephen De Lisle (FORT Factory Team)                              188
5 Adam Mcgrath (Team Maxxis)                                        180

Elite Women

1 Betsy Shogren (FORT Factory Team)                                 600 pts
2 Deidre Winfield (Velo Bella-Kona)                                 590
3 Erica Yozell (FORT Factory Team)                                  509
4 Maureen Bruno Roy (Independent Fabrication/Wheelworks)            440
5 Lisa Vible (c3/adg/joe's bike shop)                               427

See the full report, results, photos and all series standings here

Tilford goes for a swim to win

By Sean Weide

Dripping from shoulders to toe
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
(Click for larger image)

When Steve Tilford crashed his bike into an icy lake on the second lap of Sunday’s KLM Marketing UCI Cyclo-cross Race, his first instinct was to get back on and start racing. A warm blanket and some dry clothing would have to wait. The Trek/Volkswagon rider had another epic chapter to write in his already storied career that includes five world mountain bike and four national cyclo-cross titles.

A two-part storm – first ice, then snow – that struck days before the race also prevented many competitors from St. Louis and other cities east of Kansas City from making the trip to the course that will play host to the 2007 and 2008 national championships. One of the more prominent no shows was defending national champion Todd Wells (GT), who blamed a stomach flu more than travel troubles.

Before his ice bath, Tilford was 20 seconds clear of Prenzlow after the first of eight laps in the 60-minute event. But on his second trip through a frozen, rutty patch of mud on the tree-lined course, he lost control and skidded out onto the ice. The bizarre incident and his stunning comeback had even the Topeka, Kan., resident shaking his head in disbelief afterwards. “I was on my hands and knees on the ice and my bike’s laying there flat on it,” Tilford said. “Then all of sudden, the ice broke through and I just went up my waist and down to my shoulders.”

The wind chill was in the single digits
Photo ©: Mark Breeding
(Click for larger image)

With temperatures in the low 20s and a stiff, biting wind blowing out of the north, “I knew I was in trouble,” Tilford said. “After I got out, I yelled to the guys in the pit that I needed some new gloves because my hands were frozen. But by the time I rode another lap, the gloves had frozen solid on my hands and I couldn’t get pull them off with my teeth or my hands.” Tilford tossed his water-logged bike out of the lake and needed only one lap of the 2.5 kilometer course to chase down and pass Brent Prenzlow (Celo Pacific/Salsa) on the way to winning the second annual edition of the race at Kansas City’s Wyandotte County Park.

Tilford found himself riding a bike that had essentially become a single speed. Already caked with mud, the icy slush from the trip into the lake froze the bike’s brake and shifting cables. But it didn’t matter. Tilford quickly caught up to Prenzlow and was eight seconds clear of the Carlsbad, Calif., resident by the start of the next lap. From there, he put it on cruise control, tossing down lap times of 7:47, 7:43, 7:47 and 7:54 to build a lead that was a comfortable 29 seconds heading into the final lap.

“At the end, I tried to maintain and not make any more mistakes,” Tilford said. “Obviously, if this would have been the nationals, I would have finished 30th or something. You have to be able to shift and brake your bike or you usually don’t do well.”

See the full report, results and photos here

Tsujiura takes fifth straight victory

By Kei Tsuji

Keiichi Tsujiura wins
Photo ©: Hideaki Takagi
(Click for larger image) Keiichi Tsujiura  (Bridgestone-Anchor) wins his fifth national championship.

The 12th edition of the Japanese Cyclo-cross Championships was held in Tomakomai, where the defending champion, Keiichi Tsujiura (Bridgestone-Anchor), achieved an unprecedented fifth straight victory.

Holding the championships on the Northern island of Hokkaido meant that riders had to face tough, cold conditions on a freezing course, which gradually melted and became increasingly muddy towards the end. This year, 38 riders lined up, including seven in the U23 category.

It was Keiichi Tsujiura (Bridgestone-Anchor) and Masanori Kosaka (Suwako Racing Team) who started off well. The two big favorites gaining a gap over the riders behind.

On the last lap, Tsujiura fell off his bike due to accidental contact with a rider who was being lapped. This was a great opportunity for the 43 year-old Kosaka to go on and win but the defending champion never gave up and succeeded to catch Kosaka. The race came down to a sprint between the two, and it was Tsujiura who crossed the finish line first.

The elite women's race was totally dominated by defending champion, Eiko Toyooka (masahikomifune.com CyclingTeam). She showed overwhelming power and took her second national title comfortably.

See the full results and photos here

Global cyclo-cross roundup

Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races

  • December 8: UCI World Cup, Milan (Ita) CDM
  • December 9: Championnats d'Europe, Huybergen (Ned) CC
  • December 9: Int. Cyclo-cross Huybergen, Huybergen (Ned) C1
  • December 9: W.E. Stedman Grand Prix, South Kingstown, Rhode Island (USA) C2
  • December 10: Caster's Grand Prix, Warwick, Rhode Island (USA) C2
  • December 10: Frankfurter Rad-Cross, Frankfurt a/Main (Ger) C2
  • December 10: National Trophy Series 4, Bradford (GBr) C2
  • December 10: Radquer Wetzikon, Wetzikon (Swi) C1
  • December 10: Superprestige Hamme-Zogge - Bollekescross, Hamme-Zogge (Bel) C1
  • December 10: Valtellina Iperal Cross, Morbegno (Ita) C2

Hammond to UK cyclo-cross championships

Roger Hammond (Discovery)
Photo ©: Matt Conn
Click for larger image

Roger Hammond returns to the Southampton Sports Centre on January 7th not only to defend the national cyclo-cross championship he won last year, but also to the venue where he took his first Elite title twelve years ago.

Hammond who finished third in the 2004 Paris Roubaix will roll out his new pink T-Mobile colours for the first time on January 7th. Having spent two years with Lance Armstrong's Discovery Channel team, Hammond will now be hoping that a new beginning brings back the success that he so richly deserves. The T-Mobile rider will not have it all his own way as one of the strongest fields for many years take on the flat, fast, technical course that is designed to mirror the circuits of mainland Europe.

Commonwealth mountain bike champion Liam Killeen, runner up to Hammond twelve months ago will be out for revenge. Jody Crawforth the superbly talented rider from Berkshire will also be one of the favourites, as should local hero Stuart Bowers. Bowers who races for the Southampton based Hargroves Cycles/Trant squad has made no qualms that a podium position on his local course is his target for the season. With new rules put in place in cyclo-cross, when Bowers has made an appearance in local races to prepare, he has had to start at the back of the field. This has done nothing but enhance his reputation as he blitzes his way through the field to make it to the front, before destroying the competition to win alone.

Helen Wyman the reigning women's champion, has raised her game internationally this winter and is now challenging in the UCI Womens World Cup races. After spending the year racing internationally for the British pro team 'FBUK', Great Britain now has a female cross rider capable of challenging for medals at World level. With the depth of talented young women coming through the ranks, they will all be looking to wrestle her crown away from her.

The veterans and youths fight it out for their respective titles on Saturday 6th January before the main events on Sunday 7th. The elite women's race takes place at 11am while the Elite and Under 23 races kick off at 2.15pm at the Southampton Sports Centre, Thornhill Rd, Bassett, Southampton.

Premiere of film to benefit 'cross teams

Boulder Cycle Sport hosted the Colorado premiere of 'Transition 2 'Cross The Pond' at the Boulder Theater to raise funds for the American Cycling Association's cyclo-cross development programs. The movie premier was Wednesday, December 6, and all proceeds collected are to be given to the TIAA-CREF/Clif Bar Junior, U23 and Mudskipper youth cyclo-cross teams.

Transition 2 follows a group of North Americans during the 2005 holiday season as they travel through Belgium to compete with the best in the world in the harsh and unforgiving heartland of cyclo-cross racing. The documentary is a portrait of the Belgian cyclo-cross scene from the perspective of American racers, and offers an intimate look at their experiences on and off the race course. Colorado racers Danny Summerhill, Brady Kappius, Alex Howes, Troy Wells and Brandon Dwight are featured in this 90-minute film.

Ohio Valley series concludes with state championships

In what is seen as a year of tremendous growth, the Pearl Izumi Ohio Valley cyclo-cross series finishes off for the season with the Ohio State cyclo-cross championships at John Bryan state park in Yellow Springs, Ohio on December 10. In addition to state championship medals and Ohio Valley Cross Series overall awards going out, the overall John Bryan prize purse has been raised to a guaranteed $1000 overall by BioWheels bike shop in Cincinnati.

The John Bryan race course, now in its fifth year, provides the perfect series finale: a course that rewards the well-rounded rider that can power through the flats, but also let her rip through the off-camber turns and winding sand section. It is UCI race-course inspired with wide lanes and a completely taped-off course. Top that off with multiple barrier sections, and a tiny smidge of non-technical singletrack, and you've got a final race not to be missed.

The Ohio Valley 'cross series is still tightly contested, and most, if not all of the categories are still up for grabs going into this final race. With double series points on the line, not too many riders will have the luxury to coast into the finish as every place counts. The weatherman is calling for race day highs in the mid-40’s, and a local coffee brewer will be on hand to help warm racers up. For directions and race info, visit www.biowheels.com or www.ovcx.com

Kansas cyclo-cross championships

The Cow Town Cyclo-cross Series' final round is this weekend's Kansas State Cyclo-cross Championships. Individual class wins, State Championships for Kansas Riders and Series titles will all be up for grabs on December 10 in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Sunday’s event will take place on the Leavenworth High School course which will feature over 250 ft of climbing per 1.5 mile lap. "This event will truly test all the riders and whoever is strongest will definitely earn the win" said co-director Roger Harrison.

The series benefits organizations like Diamond Blackfan Anemia Foundation and volunteer groups like the Lantern Rouge Volunteer Group and VFW. "The series was a great success and we look forward to holding it again next season. 'Cross is growing in our area and it is always a lot of fun to put on quality events for everyone. An added bonus is holding things like raffles that can raise money for organizations like DBA," said CO-director Chris Locke.

For more information visit the Kansas Cycling Association's website: www.kscycling.org.

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