BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — Following an abnormally slow start this year, former national cyclocross champion Tim Johnson said he could leave Colorado content with a third-place finish at Sunday’s C1 Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup.
The Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com rider is riding his first ’cross season without a summer of domestic road racing in his legs. The longtime UnitedHealthcare road captain walked away from his pro road career at the end of the 2010 season to dedicate himself to cyclocross. Thus far, his results have been less than stellar for a rider who has won the USGP and NACT series overall titles, as well as three elite national championships.
Johnson’s 2011 season results include seventh at CrossVegas, sixth and a DNF at the USGP Planet Bike Cup in Madison, 10th and second over the Gran Prix of Gloucester weekend, and 13th and fifth at the USGP New Belgium Cup in Fort Collins.
Following the New Belgium Cup weekend, Johnson headed to Europe for two rounds of World Cup events in the Czech Republic.
At the first, in Plzen, he was among a dozen riders caught behind race photographers still standing in the starting grid after the gun went off, which led to a 10-second delay. Just 100 meters later he was caught behind a crash when several riders hit a misplaced barrier; he finished 20th, one spot ahead of American Jonathan Page. Rapha-Focus rider Jeremy Powers was the top American, in 10th, behind winner Sven Nys.
One week later, in Tabor, Johnson finished 17th, two spots behind Powers, who was again top American.
Still jetlagged from his travels from Czech Republic to Colorado, Johnson sat out Saturday’s C2 Colorado Cyclocross Classic in order to rest up for Sunday’s C1 race. He rode in the front group all day, finishing third when he squeaked past Geoff Kabush at the finish line with a bike throw.
“I can be happy about finishing third because I was able to race, and at a lot of races this year, I haven’t been able to do that,” Johnson said. “I’ve been riding sub-par for me, and the speed of the other guys has been over my head. I’ve been watching moves happen and watching moves go. It’s hard to do that. It messes with your head. Physically you can still do what you need to do in training to get better but if you don’t feel like you can compete, it’s tough. Any little bit of improvement is nice.”