The nation’s top cyclocross racers will descend upon Boulder, Colorado, this weekend for a pair of UCI events held under expected warm, sunny skies.
Saturday’s event, a UCI C2, will be held along the sandy shores of the Boulder Reservoir, while Sunday’s Boulder Cup, a UCI C1, will be held on the grass at Harlow Platts Park. Both events are part of the North American Cyclocross Trophy series, which culminates November 23 at Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup in Southampton, New York.
Weather forecasts call for warm, sunny conditions, with temperatures in the mid-70s.
Men’s field deeper than ever
National champion Tim Johnson will be on hand, fresh off a win at last weekend’s Crankbrothers USGP of Cyclocross in Louisville, Kentucky. Johnson’s Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale teammate Jeremy Powers, who currently leads USA Cycling’s national cyclocross rankings, is also in Boulder and is recovering from a head cold.
Johnson and Powers will likely see their heaviest competition from Kona’s Ryan Trebon, the 2006 national cyclocross champion and three-time USGP series overall winner. Trebon also won last weekend in Louisville, and swept both Boulder events in 2007, crossing the line at the Boulder Cup with a sword given to him by fans.
Trebon’s Kona teammate Barry Wicks, winner of the Boulder Cup in 2006, has struggled to find his legs this ’cross season after an intensive World Cup mountain bike season.
Jamis rider Jesse Anthony, the USGP series leader based on a pair of second-place finishes over the weekend, will also be on hand in Boulder, as will two-time national cyclocross champ Todd Wells (GT).
Powers crashed heavily on his chest last year at the Boulder Reservoir race while bunnyhopping barriers, and finished third at the Boulder Cup behind Trebon and Johnson. He’s riding as well as he ever has this season, and said he expects big things from himself and his teammate — however maybe not from Trebon.
“I’ve started to kick this cold, but I think Ryan has caught what I had, so I don’t know if he will be a big factor,” Powers said.
Trebon, who fell short in the second USGP race last weekend, said that while traveling the following day he felt as ill as he ever has, and woke up Monday night having sweat through his sheets. He added that Thursday was the first time he’d left his house in three days, but that he intended to fly to Colorado Friday evening.
“I’ve always done well in Boulder, and (race promoter) Chris Grealish always puts on good races,” Trebon said. “I feel like I can race, although being sick doesn’t help.”
Instead, Powers, who like Johnson hails from New England, said he expects altitude to play a significant role. Boulder sits at over 5000 feet above sea level. Powers pointed to Wells, who lives at altitude in Durango, Colorado, as well as Boulder local Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage) as those most likely to benefit from the thin air.
“This looks to be a more complete field even than last weekend,” Powers said. “We’ve got Matt Shriver, who is riding well and is from Durango, and Jesse Anthony, who is riding solid. There are a lot of guys riding now at the level that we’ve been looking for all year. A lot of guys have stepped it up for November.”
Rumors that returning Tour de France champ Lance Armstrong might be racing in Boulder appear to be dispelled by his intention to race in Austin’s Tour de Gruene Bicycle Classic time trials over the weekend.
Other big names of the sport expected include mountain bike legend Ned Overend and Beijing Olympian Taylor Phinney, who is 35 years younger than Overend.
Compton a no-go, Gould and Lloyd the favorites
The Boulder Cup weekend was slated to be another battle between Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) and Georgia Gould (Luna). The two traded wins on the 2007 USGP, with Gould taking the series victory. The two last met over the October 10-12 Cincinnati BioWheels weekend, where Compton emerged victorious three days in a row.
Unfortunately the showdown won’t happen — Compton told VeloNews that she hasn’t fully recovered from a leg-cramping episode that knocked her out of the October 19 World Cup opener in Kalmthout, Belgium, and is taking a pass. Compton and her husband, Mark, will be in Boulder for the race weekend, however only to watch.
“Watching isn’t going to be easy, but it’s better than staying at home and not going,” Compton said. “It’s been mentally challenging and really disappointing to be off the bike this much. I’m doing my best to stay positive.”
Compton has dealt with the cramping issue — called metabolic myopathy — for the lion’s share of her career as a professional cyclist, and it nearly forced her off the bike for good in 2000. Long periods of remaining seated matched with intense training causes Compton’s legs to painfully cramp for days, sometimes weeks. She believes the most recent bout came from sleeping sitting down during a trans-Atlantic flight.
Compton’s absence takes some of the pressure off Gould, who comes in as the odds-on favorite. The Luna rider won the second round of the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Kentucky in a two-up sprint with her Luna teammate Katerina Nash. Nash will not be in Boulder — the Czech rider is in Europe contesting the European cyclocross championships.
But Gould isn’t guaranteed a win. She faces a strong challenge from Californian Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Strawberry), who finished second on the first day in Kentucky when Gould crashed into the course tape and finished third.
“Rachel is a stiff competitor, she’s really good on technical stuff and cornering,” Gould said. “She showed herself to be tough to beat in Kentucky. I’m sure she’ll be tough to beat in Boulder as well.”
A cast of other elite women will challenge for the victory, including Boulder locals Kerry Barnholt (Tokyo Joe’s), Amy Dombroski (Velo Bella) and mountain biker Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher). Others who could shine include Kathy Sherwin (Velo Bella), Meredith Miller (California Giant Strawberry) and Sarah Kerlin (HRS-Rock Lobster).
Check back to velonews.com all weekend for race reports, photos and video coverage.