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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, January 8, 2009

Edited by Peter Hymas

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

US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross expands in 2009

The elite mens' 2008 USGP podium
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

The series that stoked the exponential growth of cyclo-cross in the United States – the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross – has announced its dates for the upcoming season. The 2009 Series returns for a third year to Louisville, Kentucky, Mercer Co., New Jersey and Portland, Oregon. The USGP has also announced its expansion to a fourth weekend of racing with the addition of the Planet Bike Cup in Madison, Wisconsin to its lineup.

"We are incredibly happy with how the 2009 season of the USGP is shaping up," said Bruce Fina, Executive Director, US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross. "The addition of the Planet Bike Cup is tremendous for the Series. Madison has a great cycling community and the Planet Bike Cup was already a wonderful event. We are thrilled to have added such a strong early season weekend of racing to our schedule.

"Besides adding [to the series], we strongly believe that returning to the same three world class venues in 2009 enables the series and the sport to grow," continued Fina. "Last year, our second in these same venues, we saw bigger fields, bigger crowds and we expect more of the same in 2009. Combined with the continued strong support of our sponsors and a start list of top elite athletes we are expecting that the USGP will maintain its distinction as the premier cyclo-cross series on this side of the Atlantic."

Renee Callaway and John Ericsson, the founders of the Planet Bike Cup share Fina's enthusiasm, "We're excited to have this opportunity to partner with the USGP. It's an exciting opportunity to highlight Wisconsin cyclo-cross and bring the best possible racing to the Midwest. We're excited that the Midwest's elite racers have the opportunity to showcase how they stack up with the best in the country in front of the home crowd."

2009 US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross schedule:

September 26-27: Planet Bike Cup, Madison, WI
October 25-26: Derby City Cup, Louisville, KY
November 14-15: Mercer Cup, Mercer County, NJ
December 5-6: Portland Cup, Portland, OR

Fans rewarded if Vervecken podiums

Former world champ Erwin Vervecken
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A podium place in the Belgian cyclo-cross championships for Erwin Vervecken could mean a fluffy, soft surprise for the fans. His new sponsor, Revor, a bedding manufacturer, has said that if he finishes in the top three, it will distribute 1000 pillows to the fans.

"This action sure gives me extra motivation," the 36-year-old said, according to hln.be. "Winning seems impossible to me, but I want that third place."

Vervecken is three-time World Champion but has never won his national title. He sees Niels Albert and Sven Nys fighting it out for the title. "If Niels takes off, then Nys is probably the only one who can follow him."


Albert returns to his winning ways

By Brecht Decaluwé

Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) gives his victory salute
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
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Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus ) proved that he is fully recovered from a crash that took him out of competition in mid-November. The 22-year-old Belgian won the final rehearsal ahead of the national championships that will happen throughout Europe next weekend. Albert won the race with an impressive solo effort which he initiated during the second of ten laps. Italian "crossista" Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas) finished second at twenty seconds behind Albert. Fifteen seconds later, Czech national champion Zdenek Stybar (Fidea Cycling Team) won the sprint for the remaining podium spot ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Fidea Cycling Team) and Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Projob Cycling Team).

"I felt strong and wanted to make it a hard race. I was joined by Klaas and Enrico and when Klaas crashed behind me, I was able to get a couple of metres. Then one shouldn't delay, of course. It's been awhile since I was able to win. This feels good, especially ahead of the Belgian championships," Albert said to Sporza.

"The last few weeks, I saw every race as a training, adding additional training sessions before and after. I should be able to battle for the win next week. I can focus on one race. I've been unlucky this season, and hopefully I can make up for that at the championships," Albert said.

Franzoi had no choice but to acknowledge Albert's strength although he easily managed to stay ahead of the chasers. "I was very strong," Franzoi said to Sporza. "This was a good race to get a result. I'm happy with my race. It's important to build up [my] form [heading] towards the Italian Championships."

Continue to the full race report, results and photos

Euro 'cross camp VI diary

Last race

Danny Summerhill: Last race

American Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar)
Photo ©: Cyclingnews.com
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Today [Friday - ed.] we raced the GP de Ster Sint Niklaas pro and under 23 mixed race. Unlike the rest of the camp, today was the first day in two weeks where the ground was able to thaw out a little bit. That created a very greasy, slippery course and caused just about every one to crash at least once.

I thought the race went so-so, but definitely could have been better. With the bar being raised so much higher racing over here, you tend to push your self to limits a lot more, and with that, people crash more easily.

That is what happened to me, today, and I am sure every other person at least once on this slippery course. With my crash, I bent my bars and probably broke a spoke, so by the time I got to the pit mentally, I had kind of checked out of the race.

To read more, click here.

Zach McDonald: Cruisin'

Zach McDonald
Photo ©: Zach McDonald
(Click for larger image)

Everyone has heard about the racing, the fans and the overall atmosphere of racing in Europe being quite different from the USA. It is all a challenge to overcome and it takes some time to get used to. However, the biggest problem for me during the Euro Camp is not the racing or the change in environment; it is simply finding something to do during the day to entertain myself.

I wake up at eight and am usually off training soon after. I return to the house somewhere in the twelve to one o'clock hour. Lunch goes by fast and soon I find myself with nothing to do. After the first couple days of the camp, internet gets old and watching the same songs on Jim TV (Belgian MTV) gets unbearable. There are only so many times in a day that I need to hear Womaniser and If I Were a Boy before losing a little bit of sanity.

Last week presented this problem a little more than this week since we had four days without a race. Nick and I were convinced to find a way to help cure the boredom and perhaps reclaim some of our sanity – or at least some of mine. After lunch on the 24th, I grabbed my photo gear we boarded the cruisers and set out to find something to entertain us.

To read more, click here.

Read all of this year's Euro 'cross camp diaries here.

Nys and Kupfernagel top UCI rankings

Sven Nys continues to lead the UCI cyclo-cross rankings, a position he's held for more than a month. Since the previous points tally released on December 23, 2008 Nys has won the eponymous Grote Prijs Sven Nys, maintained his World Cup lead with a sixth place finish in the Zolder, Belgium round, and extended his lead in the Gazet van Antwerpen Trofee standings with a second place finish to Zdenek Stybar in the Azencross Loenhout.

Nys has extended his UCI lead over Bart Wellens, the first of a trio of Fidea Cycling Team members in the top four, who remains in second place position 635 points behind Nys. Wellens' form has steadily improved throughout the season confirmed by a win in the GP de Ster. Kevin Pauwels's position, too, remains unchanged in third place while a pair of wins by Zdenek Stybar has vaulted his position from sixth to fourth.

Niels Albert has returned to competition following his recovery from a ruptured spleen and has ended his steady descent from first to his present position in fifth with a new influx of points. Sven Vanthourenhout has steadily risen through the rankings this season and makes his first appearance in the top ten.

On the women's side, Hanka Kupfernagel remains atop the standings and has slightly lengthened her lead over Daphny Van Den Brand and Katie Compton, primarily due to her second place finish in the Zolder, Belgium World Cup event. The top five women in the rankings remained unchanged in their positions from the previous poll while the women in sixth through tenth underwent a slight shuffling in rank. Christel Ferrier-Bruneau and Helen Wyman swapped sixth and seventh from the previous ranking while Wendy Simms and Saskia Elemans similarly swapped ninth and tenth position since the December 23, 2008 ranking.

1 Sven Nys (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                  2180 pts
2 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                   1545
3 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team                  1495
4 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Fidea Cycling Team                  1384
5 Niels Albert (Bel) BKCP - Powerplus                     1224
6 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank                                1220
7 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team       1182
8 Thijs Al (Ned) AA Drinks Cycling Team                   1130
9 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Revor Cycling Team                1000
10 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Projob Cycling Team    967
1 Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger) Itera-Stevens                   1840 pts
2 Daphny Van Den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl                      1365
3 Katherine Compton (USA) Spike Shooter                   1285
4 Pavla Havlíková (Cze)                                   1174
5 Maryline Salvetat (Fra)                                 1020
6 Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Fra)                           885
7 Helen Wyman (GBr) Swift Racing                           828
8 Sanne van Paassen (Ned)                                  785
9 Wendy Simms (Can) Kona                                   764
10 Saskia Elemans (Ned)                                    760

Recent Cyclo-cross results

December 31: GP 5 Sterne Region, Beromünster (Swi) C2
January 1: Grote Prijs Sven Nys, Baal (Bel) C1 ME
January 1: G.P. Hotel Threeland, Pétange (Lux) C2 ME/WE
January 2: Grote Prijs De Ster, Sint-Niklaas (Bel) C2 ME
January 4: Flüüger-Quer, Dübendorf (Swi) C1 ME
January 4: Internationale Veldrit Sint Michielsgestel, Sint Michielsgestel (Ned) C1 ME/MU/MJ/WE
January 4: Vlaamse Witloof Veldrit, Tervuren (Bel) C2 ME/MJ/WE

Upcoming UCI races

January 11: National Championships CN
January 14: Internationale Centrumcross van Surhuisterveen, Surhuisterveen (Ned) C1 ME
January 17: Eurocyclocross Valkenswaard, Valkenswaard (Ned) C2 ME/MU/MJ/WE
January 18: National Trophy Round 6, Derby (GBr) C2 ME
January 18: Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World Cup, Roubaix (Fra) CDM ME/MU/MJ/WE
January 24: Kasteelcross Zonnebeke, Zonnebeke (Bel) C2 ME
January 24: Championnats Masters Mondiaux / World Masters Championships, Mol (Bel) CMM ME/WE
January 25: Ispasterko Udala Sari Nagusia, Ispaster (Spa) C2 ME
January 25: Cyclo-cross international de Lanarvily, Lanarvily (Fra) C2 ME/MU/MJ/WE
January 25: Coupe du Monde UCI / UCI World Cup, Milan (Ita) CDM ME/WE
January 31 - February 1: Championnats du Monde / World Championships, Hoogerheide (Ned) CM ME/MU/MJ/WE

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