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Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up for January 6, 2006

Edited by Steve Medcroft

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

World Cup #8; Nys wins survival of the toughest

Sven Nys (Rabobank) notched up his seventh World Cup victory this season by winning the cold and muddy eighth round in Hooglede, Belgium. The World Champion headed home Erwin Vervecken (Fidea) by half a minute with Richard Groenendaal 1'18 back in third.

"This weather is appalling, but that's the same for everyone, of course," said the mud-covered Nys at the end. "It wasn't easy to keep yourself warm: your feet, your hands, your eyes. Because of the mud, I saw nothing, with or without glasses. Actually I was riding just about blind. It was about survival and riding my own race. I couldn't even see the other rivals."

Nys did comment on Erwin Vervecken, who managed to stay in contact until the last lap, when he fell. "Vervecken was definitely strong, but I deserved to win."

How it unfolded

The race got off to a false start, as a commissaire hindered Sven Nys. The field was stopped after a couple of minutes and ordered to restart by race officials. On the muddy parcours, he wasted no time in taking the lead together with Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), Petr Dlask, who will ride with AVB in 2006, Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Caffita), and John Gadret (Jartazi). Richard Groenendaal was also able to keep in touch with the leaders, riding his usual conservative race in the first half and improving towards the finish.

As Nys and Vervecken pulled away from the rest, with Groenendaal taking third position, Bart Wellens (Fidea) tried to close the gap on his own. He couldn't do it, and had to abandon due to the cold.

At the halfway point, Nys began to put time into Vervecken, but the Fidea rider kept in contact until the last lap when a crash ended his chances of victory. Nys, barely recognisable under the mud, could celebrate at his leisure, while Vervecken rolled in for second ahead of Groenendaal, De Knegt and Gadret.

In the women's race, Daphny Van den Brand (ZZPR.nl) proved that she was the best in the field again, beating Hanka Kupfernagel (Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim) and Lyne Bessette (Canada). Van den Brand, the World Cup leader, went solo just before the halfway point, and was never caught. Bessette hung onto second place for a while before Kupfernagel passed here later in the race.

For full results, click here.

Page scores his first Euro 'cross win

By Steve Medcroft

Jonathan Page
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Jonathan Page crossing the line on only one wheel...

American Cyclo-crosser Jonathan Page (Cervelo) won the 59th Grand Prix du Nouvel-An in Petange Luxembourg on January 1, his first elite European cyclocross win.

Page says he chose the Petange event over the more popular GVA Sven Nys Grand Prix in Belgium when the latter event delayed confirmation of his start contract, and was surprised at how tough the Luxembourg terrain and conditions were. "We had melted snow and cold and icy rain; you had to use your energy wisely," Page told Cyclingnews from his Belgium home Thursday evening. "The course started up a hill then went down this section of mountain-bikey singletrack."

Page was still suffering foot injury he suffered when he punctured it on a strip of steel post at Middelkerke on December 29 and found himself seventh wheel early in the race. "I felt blocked up at first. I started at my my own pace but kept working throughout the race. With four laps to go, I went from seventh to second in one lap and my body turned on. I just kept going harder and faster and eventually went through everyone."

The win was Page's first in elite European competition. "It was a milestone for sure. I know the best racers weren't there but it feels special to be the first American to score a Euro 'cross win."

After a short training vacation in the Cypress sunshine, Page says he's on track for a strong World's. "The foot is healing and I’ve never felt so good at this point. I’m really looking forward to World's; I’m very focused, I’m not nervous. I’m just going to do my work and hopefully that will take me to a good placing."

For complete results and pictures from the Grand Prix du Nouvel-An, click here.

Bessette rides to two podiums in European season debut

Lyne Bessette
Photo ©: Mani Wollner
(Click for larger image) Lyne Bessette attacked right from the start

After a frustrating start to her World Cup campaign, Team Cyclocrossworld.com-Louis Garneau’s Lyne Bessette has found her European legs in a big way. On consecutive days last weekend Lyne scored impressive podium finishes, racing in heavy, muddy conditions brought on by snow storms that have pummelled Europe over the past week.

After a great start in the Hooglede World Cup, December 31, Bessette chased down early leader and defending world champion Hanka Kupfernagel to finish third on the day. Bessette returned to the podium Sunday with a second place in the Grand Prix du Nouvel-An in Pétange, Luxemburg. On a muddy course more mountain bikey than most European ‘cross tracks, Lyne slotted in behind Marianne Vos.

Bart Wellens' race exclusion

UCI statement

After examination of the reports from the three commissaires present on the Cyclo-cross event of last 18 December in Overijse (Belgium), the UCI has noted that the exclusion from competition for serious fault of Belgian rider Bart Wellens, is the only decision which can be taken into consideration, as there have been no collegial deliberations, nor decision of the majority of the three commissaries to come back on this exclusion from competition.

Therefore Bart Wellens does not appear on the Overijse event ranking (as previously reported). Moreover, the UCI will bring this case in front of the Disciplinary Commission for non-observation of instructions of the commissaires and that their image and reputation has been tarnished as well as cycling’s interests and the UCI. These infractions are liable of a fine or suspension.

An amazing day; TIAA-Cref / Troy Wells diary

Oh Yeah!
Photo ©: Beth Seliga
Click for larger image

US Cyclo-Cross Nationals was an amazing weekend for myself, the TIAA-CREF/Clif-Bar team, and for my family. The weekend couldn't have gone any better. It began Thursday morning at 4:30 am, when my roommate Adam Synder and I had to meet up with the Fort Lewis College Cycling Team to head to Durango Airport. After a long day of travel we were on the east coast. On the east coast in December, you can always expect the weather to be crappy. Friday morning I woke up to heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain. I was planning on racing the Collegiate race in the afternoon. I was excited for the race, mainly to get in a good 45 minute effort on the course. Unfortunately they postponed our race due to weather - I thought cyclo-cross was about racing in epic weather...I understand the concern for the safety of everyone involved, though.

After they postponed the race it started to clear up outside, and I finally left the hotel to try to get a lap on the course. To get to the course from the hotel you had to venture through a true east coast ghetto. Luckily the only things fired at me were snowballs from some high school kids. After arriving at the course, which was covered with several inches of snow, I began a lap, only to get half way around before breaking my seat post. Nothing like getting a good opener in the day before the biggest cross race I was going to do all year in the U.S.

What a family photo!
Photo ©: Beth Seliga
Click for larger image

Saturday morning I awoke after my worst night of sleep in a while, but was excited and ready to go. I knew the course would be good for me on Saturday. Muddy and technical enough to be a bike handler's course without turning into a running race like the last couple of years. The race seemed to come up quickly once I got to the venue. I was excited, but I was also a little worried due to my lack of a ride on Friday. I knew at the start of the race on an icy course I had to start fast to try to stay out of trouble. I was lucky enough to hole shot, which is not an easy task with Jesse Anthony on the start line. Jesse always starts very fast, and normally can hole shot or at least top three in just about every race in the U.S. After the first lap, I found myself off the front with Brent Bookwalter, who I know well from our days at DEVO.

Brent had already raced earlier in the day and won the Collegiate race (that I opted not to compete in due to the rescheduling to Saturday morning). Brent had the course dialled, so I felt it would be smart to follow him for a while and try to learn the course (due to the fact I broke my seat post during my recon mission the night before). The first time through the pit on the third lap, Brent laid it down around a slick corner. At this point I went to the front and tried to increase the tempo. After a lap of pushing it and taking chances, I decided it was time to try to conserve and keep myself upright. I began racing the exact opposite of how I normally ride. I was giving it all I had on the road sections where I knew there was less chance of making a mistake.

Read the entire TIAA-Cref, Troy Wells diary entry here.

Ready for World's; the Barb Howe diary

Happy New Year! Mother Nature has decided to punish Northern California this season. We've been hit by several large storms, one after another. Friday's storm was the biggest and nastiest. The wind blew, rain fell and rivers overflowed their banks. Flood warnings repeated on the radio and people were evacuated from their homes in Northern California.

Living in a basement apartment, I didn't hear the hours of pounding rain and was surprised by the extent of the damage Saturday morning. The exit to work off of highway 101 was flooded and I could see the bike path on the other side under several feet of water. Sometimes during a leap tide the bike path will flood, but this was far more water than I'd seen before.

The highway pinched from four lanes to one as the other three integrated into the bay. Drowned cars lined the side of road while friendly State Policemen shooed everyone else on their way.

Josh called while I was at work to tell me of the destruction he saw in San Anselmo; a small town to the north. The strangest sight he saw was forty or fifty balls (soccer balls, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, etc) stuck on the side of a small bridge straddling the swollen creek. It was like the rain was in the mood to play and swept all the balls it could find out of garages, back yards and porches and sent them to play with a bridge abutment.

Read the entire Barb Howe diary here.

Barbarella needs your help...

Velo Bella – Kona, sponsor of pro Cyclo-cross racer and Cyclingnews diarist Barbara Howe, is asking for your support to send her to Zeddam for Cyclo-cross World's. Howe earned a spot on the U.S. National team after finishing the top-ranked U.S. woman in the Crankbrothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross.

USA Cycling does not provide any financial assistance for our U.S. women’s national team, and Barb’s full time job and fellow Bellas can only take her so far. You can help cover the difference by donating today to help fund her trip to the Cyclocross World Championships. Help Barbarella conquer the Galaxy on a pink 'cross bike! How cool is that? Go to www.velobella.org and give all you can to help make Barb’s dreams come true for 2006!

Velo Bella - Kona is a non-profit, grassroots, multidiscipline cycling team based out of Watsonville, CA. The Velo Bella mission is to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle through cycling and laughter. They inspire women to get out and ride a bike, race a bike, and to eventually grow the pool of talent and have a lot of fun along the way. While the core Velo Bella - Kona Team is a committed group of female racers, membership includes female cyclists interested in completing their first race, century, or even group ride.

Global Cyclo-cross racing round-up

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