Note: Watch live streaming video of the women’s and men’s elite races from the USAC Cyclocross National Championships beginning at 11:50 am (Central time) on Sunday, January 8 on VeloNews.com. Go to VeloNews.com/live!
Three-time National Cyclocross Champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) rang in the New Year with a flu that still has him under the weather coming into Sunday’s Elite National Championship race.
“I had a fever and the whole nastiness. It hit me at about 9:30 on New Year’s eve,” Johnson said, laughing in disbelief. “Quite a way to rock in the new year.”
“I wish I could say I was feeling great for this weekend. I’ve had plenty of rest, but definitely not a lot of mental rest.”
Getting sick the week before the national championship might make the average title-contender a despondent wreck. But Johnson has won too many titles to lose perspective.
“I’ve definitely been better leading into a National Championship before. But I have to keep it in perspective: it’s a bike race and it’s a season where I haven’t exactly been at my peak. I wish I were showing up with a little more weaponry for the fight. But I know what it means to pull that jersey on. And that’s a motivation that supersedes a lot of other things.”
Will Johnson race even if he’s still sick on Sunday?
“I’m definitely racing on Sunday,” Johnson said. “I would never want to miss a Nationals – especially on the first year when we’re moving into January. I’m psyched, even if my health is a little less than normal.”
If his race is hampered by illness, Johnson said he wouldn’t be crushed. He’ll simply proceed as planned with the final two World Cup races and the World Championships.
“When things don’t go the way you want them to you really have to readjust and figure out what you have and then throw it all in there.”
Expect to see just that from Johnson on Sunday.
Johnson’s Picks for Sunday
With a bit of the pressure off, Johnson talked candidly about his predictions for Sunday’s elite men’s championship race should he not be in contention himself.
“As anyone who skis knows, Vermont has had a dry year, so Jamey’s been doing more riding than skiing,” Johnson joked about his Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld teammate. “I know what Jamey’s been doing, and he’s going to be fast.”
“Ryan [Trebon] (LTS-Felt) is hauling ass,” Johnson said of his gangly, longtime rival.
“I’d expect [Trebon, Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) to be sharing the chances. Depending on the conditions I’d say that Page and Trebon will be on the front battling it out.”