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Cyclo-cross news & racing roundup for January 16

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.

Belgian selection for worlds

Outgoing World Champ hopes for another surprise win
Photo ©: Laura Weislo
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Belgian national coach Rudy de Bie has made his choice of riders to represent their country at the Cyclo-cross World Championships next week, choosing the top eight Belgian riders from the UCI rankings to try to extend the country's six year winning streak in Treviso.

Leading the team from the heart of cyclo-cross will be outgoing World Champion Erwin Vervecken along with the obvious choices of UCI leader Sven Nys (2005 world champion), number two ranked Bart Wellens (2003-2004 champion) and number three Klaas Vantornout. The latter sustained injuries in a car accident prior to the World Cup in Liévin last weekend, but is hoping to recover in time for the January 27 championship race.

Also included in the Belgian squad are cousins Sven and Dieter Vanthourenhout, ranked 9th and 22nd, respectively. They are joined by Bart Aernouts, winner of the C1 race in Huybergen, and Kevin Pauwels, ranked 16th in the world.

Left hoping for a spot as a substitute are 47th ranked Jan Verstraeten and Rob Peeters, winner of the GP Sint Niklaas, who is ranked 24th.

The U23 team will be led by UCI leader Niels Albert, 13th ranked Tom Meeusen, Quentin Bertholet (22nd) and Wim Leemans (20th) with 16th ranked Vincent Baestaens and Stijn Huys (23rd) in reserves.

The women's team will be led by the young phenom Sanne Cant, who is ranked 8th by the UCI, with Loes Sels (26th), Katrien Pauwels (18th) and Veerle Ingels (14th).

Elite Men: Erwin Vervecken (Fidea), Sven Nys (Rabobank), Bart Wellens (Fidea), Klaas Vantornout (Fidea), Dieter Vanthourenhout (Palmans-Cras), Bart Aernouts (Rabobank), Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb - Pro Job), Kevin Pauwels (Fidea), Reserves: Jan Verstraeten (Sunweb - Pro Job), Rob Peeters (Landbouwkrediet).

U23: Joeri Adams, Niels Albert, Quentin Bertholet, Wim Leemans, Tom Meeusen. Reserves: Vincent Baestaens, Stijn Huys.

Women Sanne Cant, Veerle Ingels, Katrien Pauwels, Loes Sels.

Juniors Stef Boden, Wietse Bosmans, Matthias Bossuyt, Sean De Bie, Simon Geets. Reserves: Gerry Druyts, Dany Lacroix.

USA elite men for Treviso

USA Cycling announced the four men who have been selected to represent the United States at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Treviso, naming US champion Tim Johnson, last year's silver medallist Jonathan Page and former US champion Ryan Trebon to the team. The sole discretionary pick was Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com).

Page qualified as a silver medallist from the 2007 world championships while Johnson and Trebon earned their spots as the next two Americans in the UCI Cyclo-cross rankings. Currently, Page is the top-ranked American in the world in 18th, followed by Johnson (19th), Trebon (29th) and Powers (34th) was the lone discretionary nomination. Barry Wicks (33rd) did not seek a nomination.

The men's nominations follow the elite women's, U23 and junior teams announced in December.

Looking back at Camp and forward to worlds

By Sue George

Gavin Mannion learned mental toughness in Belgium
Photo ©: Cycling-pics.be
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Geoff Proctor is enjoying a well-deserved albeit rather short break between the Euro 'Cross Camp he hosted over the holidays and the upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Italy. Looking back at the Euro 'Cross Camp, during which Proctor took 16 young riders to Belgium for two weeks of racing experience, Proctor was pleased.

"I was really encouraged this year with the experiential level of the camp – it was starting point for those guys," said Proctor. "You can maybe learn more in two weeks over there than a whole season in the US."

"There was one race the juniors did that was the sketchiest thing you've ever seen," recalled Proctor. "Gavin [Mannion] hit a tree, broke his helmet and still finished. Guys were getting carted off on stretchers."

This year's camp featured more young riders, including mostly juniors and under 23 riders. "Four of the juniors were first-years. They did really well. For a 16 or 17 year-old kid, it is a tremendous leap to jump from our [US] nationals and go over there. It makes a big impression on these guys."

When the young men weren't racing, they were getting some life lessons from Coach Proctor. "We talked about risk assessment and ambition and the willingness to fight – all the qualities it takes to do well over there. We did a lot of talk on planning and programming and how to take an annual view of your season and not just the cyclo-cross part. We're teaching these guys how to plan better and to learn how to say no.

"To be targeting world championships in January … you only have so many matches you can burn." Proctor advocated an intelligent big picture approach to riders' seasons.

Proctor takes a long term view with the camp. He's interested in how the first and second year juniors will be doing when they in their final years as espoirs. "All five guys on the U23 US National Championship podium were Euro 'Cross Camp alumi. I bet next year's junior podium will be largely made up of kids from the camp this year. The four first-year juniors I had this year were really strong."

On Thursday, Proctor will return to Europe to run a pre-worlds camp for five days in conjunction with the World Cup. Then it's off to Italy for the World Championships. Nine of his Euro'Cross Camp riders will join him there.

Eight of the sixteen riders from the Euro 'Cross Camp will head to worlds. The elite women, junior men's and U23 men's rosters are already set. The elite men's team will consist of Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Jonathan Page, with Euro 'cross camp veteran Jeremy Powers as the sole discretionary pick.

When asked to predict top American performances for worlds, Proctor pointed to Katie Compton, who is sitting second in the UCI rankings for elite women.

"I want to see all of our guys do well," said Proctor. "I want to see our elite guys do well because they struggled at Christmas-time - Tim Johnson, Ryan Trebon and Jeremy Powers. And Jon Page is starting to come around. I know how hard these guys work and I hope it comes together for them."

Read about the exploits of this year's Euro 'Cross Camp participants.

Franzoi returns to racing

Italian Enrico Franzoi intends on returning to racing this Sunday with the last round of the Cyclo-cross World Cup in Hoogerheide, Holland. The 25 year-old Liquigas rider is almost completely healed from a microfracture to his left ankle according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The three-time Italian Cyclo-cross Champion crashed at the end of November in Koksijde, but has not lost hope of a strong showing at the World Championships, January 27.

Vantornout injured

By Susan Westemeyer

It was a bad weekend for Klaas Vantornout. Shortly after starting out training Saturday morning, he was hit by a car. "The driver pulled out of a parking place and didn't see me. I made a somersault and landed on my right shoulder," he told Sportwereld.be. Nothing was broken, but it was still painful.

He decided to ride the World Cup Cyclo-cross race in Liévin anyway, even though he "experienced a very bad night." He ended up dropping out early, as in addition to the shoulder pain he started having pain in his ribs and difficulty breathing.

However, there was more pain to come. He dropped from third in the UCI rankings to sixth, which "makes a difference financially."

Trebon struggles with back injury

By Steve Medcroft

Trebon's crash at USA 'cross nationals in December is affecting his Euro 'cross season
Photo ©: Kurt Jambretz
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After pulling out midway through the Grand Prix Lille Métropole in Roubaix, France, on Saturday, former USA MTB and cyclo-cross national champion Ryan Trebon (Kona/Yourkey.com) revealed that a lingering back injury suffered in a head-on crash with another rider during USA cyclo-cross nationals in December is thwarting his efforts in the European cyclo-cross scene. "My back is still just generally bad from crashing at Nationals," Trebon reported by e-mail on Sunday. "It's very sore and stiff to move. I feel like an 80-year old man when I wake up in the morning."

Trebon says that he has tried to work through the pain but accepts that proper recovery is the only path to his former fitness level. "For the past six weeks, I just have been pretty much stressing my back to the max trying to train and race with it. But I think the only thing that is gonna cure my back is a little bit of time off to recoup."

Trebon says the injury has sidelined his ambitions for the remainder of the 'cross season. "It is very frustrating to have physical problems keeping you from achieving what is possible. Honestly, I don't have many expectations for the rest of the year. With all the problems I have had in the past six weeks, it is very hard to honestly say I expect to compete and do well in the remaining races. You just try and look past it and focus on improving the problem."

Although he doesn't expect to recover up to and beyond 'cross Worlds, the American says that the injury is not expected to sideline him into the 2008 road and mountain-bike seasons. As he did in 2007, Trebon is "continuing to race with Kona bicycles for the MTB and 'cross seasons next year; with the occasional road race thrown in. But I'm definitely going to take a break after the 'cross season though; the most important thing is getting better so that I can properly prepare for the upcoming season."

Boom and Kupfernagel strongest in Liévin 'cross World Cup

By Steve Medcroft & Brecht Decaluwé

Lars Boom in Liévin, France on Sunday
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Dutch national cyclo-cross champion Lars Boom (Rabobank) and German national champion Hanka Kupfernagel (Focus) held off strong contingents of French hopefuls looking for a home-country win in round seven of the 2007/2008 UCI World Cup on Sunday.

In the men's race, Boom held French national champion Francis Mourey (Française des Jeux) and a surprisingly strong John Gadret (AG2r - La Mondiale) to third and fifth-place respectively with the pace he and Belgian Bart Wellens (Fidea Cycling Team) set on the gloomy and muddy parcours for his second World Cup win of the season.

"I feel good," Boom said, "but the others on the podium are good as well. Mourey was very strong; for sure he will be a candidate for the win in Treviso."

Kupfernagel was able to stay ahead of three French women for her first World Cup victory of the season. World champion Maryline Salvetat (VSLL Castres), Laurence Leboucher (Sarthe-Gasseau) and Christelle Ferrier-Bruneau (Les Pruneaux D'Agen) finished second through fourth.

"I didn't feel so good because of all the traveling we did in the car," Kupfernagel said of her start in the race. "The French girls received a lot of support, so I hope the crowds will not hate me for that," Kupfernagel wondered. "Too bad Daphny Van Den Brand wasn't here today, because it would've been an even greater spectacle for the crowds. I really feel the level of women's cyclo-cross is picking up recently."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the men and women's World Cups.

Vervecken shows pre-Worlds form in Roubaix

By Brecht Decaluwé in Roubaix

Erwin Vervecken (Fidea Cycling Team)
Photo ©: AFP
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Throughout the season World champion Erwin Vervecken has hardly shown the kind of form worthy of a man with three separate rainbow jerseys, barely managing to pull off podium finishes after a handful of early season wins. Things were quite different in Roubaix, however, for the 35 year-old Belgian.

On the legendary track where Stuart O'Grady captured a monumental victory in April 2007, Vervecken has a good record. "I've never lost over here," Vervecken claimed. "I've won the MTB stage that finished on the vélodrome. I've won this race in 2006 and in 2007 they didn't want to give me the victory."

Vervecken clearly hasn't forgotten about the tight finish with Gerben De Knegt last year. After a millimetre sprint, the jury decided that De Knegt was the winner, much to the disbelief of Vervecken. That disappointment drove Vervecken on Saturday. "It doesn't happen too often that I arrive alone at the finish, but I didn't want to take a risk over here; it's a tricky finish," Vervecken said to Cyclingnews after the race. "I was rather comfortable for the first half of the race, and from then on I told myself to watch out because some riders had crashed, like Page and Simunek. I pulled hard and was on my own with two laps to go."

With the penultimate World Cup race of the season Sunday in Liévin, Vervecken risked losing energy he'll need by being so aggressive in Roubaix. His compatriots mostly stayed away; top contenders like French champion Francis Mourey, Sven Nys, Bart Wellens and Lars Boom didn't even race in Roubaix. "True, but on the other hand I realized that I have to give this jersey away in two weeks, and today I could win a race while wearing it," Vervecken said. "Today, I could add lustre to the world champion's jersey and that it something I could barely do this season."

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Roubaix race.

Juniors benefit from auction

Santa Cruz bicycles announced the beneficiaries of its December charity auction this week, naming Edmonton, Alberta native David Larson (Juventus Cycling Club) and Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes) of Dedham, Massachusetts as recipients of aid to help fun their trip to the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Treviso, Italy, January 26-27.

"Chris Sheppard's bike auction and subsequent funding assistance to an American junior rider for the 2008 World Cyclo-cross Championships is a tremendously sporting gesture. Worthy recipient, Gavin Mannion, will benefit directly from the support in his quest for a good result at worlds," said Geoff Proctor, USGP Technical Director and US National Team Coach. "My thanks and appreciation go out to Chris and his sponsors for their time and effort to help young riders achieve international results."

2008 Canadian National Champion, David Larson will join fellow Canadian athletes in Europe next week. "I feel very lucky and happy to represent Canada. As a benefactor of your auction, I hope one day to be in a position to pay it forward," beamed David.

US National criterium champion, Gavin Mannion has already tallied top five results while attending the US National Team training camp in Belgium. Gavin stated that, "The auction has helped me travel to Europe early and have the best possible preparation for World's. Thank you so much to all those involved!"

"We truly appreciate the generous bid made by auction winner, Brian Mckie of San Jose," noted Sheppard. Mckie received Chris' complete Stigmata pit-bike plus two Giro kits, and a Giro Pneumo helmet.

Upcoming UCI Cyclo-cross races

  • January 19: Championnats Masters Mondiaux / World Masters Championships, Mol (Bel) CMM
  • January 19: Kasteelcross Zonnebeke, Zonnebeke (Bel) C2
  • January 19: Urban Cyclocross, Irvine, California (USA) C2
  • January 20: Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide (Ned) CDM
  • January 20: Cyclo-cross international de Lanarvily, Lanarvily (Fra) C2
  • January 20: Isparteko Udala Sari Nagusia, Ispaster (Spa) C2

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