BEND, Oregon (VN) — Cross the name Todd Wells off the list of potential candidates to fill out the U.S. team roster for February’s world cyclocross championships in Louisville, Kentucky.
Citing a long Olympic-year mountain bike racing campaign, and the need for some rest ahead of the 2013 fat-tire season, the Specialized rider told VeloNews.com that this weekend’s USGP races in Bend, Oregon, will be his last aboard the ’cross bike until next fall.
“Originally I was going to gear up for cyclocross nationals and then take it from there,” said Wells. “But plans change. I love ’cross, but the team decided that they want me to do well on the mountain bike next year, and I know that in order to do that I have to take a pass on some things. Right now I really need a break.”
That break will include a short vacation in Mexico with his wife, and then some relaxing downtime in his hometown of Durango, Colorado.
“Normally we’d go to Mexico for four weeks instead of four days, but Meg has a real job now so we have to shorten it,” he said.
Wells is a three-time U.S. national cyclocross champion, including a win in Bend in 2010. But on Saturday, he was never in the mix, starting from the fourth row and ending up in ninth place, 1:36 behind race winner Ryan Trebon (Cannondale). Trebon’s fastest four laps were all under 6:50, while Wells was on average about 10 seconds slower per lap.
“Today was decent, but right now I just don’t have the form,” said Wells. “If I can be up front right from the start maybe I can stay up there, but I don’t have the form to come from the back and move up through a lot of people.”
A few years back, Wells might have been able to jump right in and find success on the U.S. cyclocross circuit. But as the sport’s popularity has grown, so too has the number of top level pros who’ve made it their primary focus. That’s not a luxury he has. The size of Wells’ paycheck is determined by mountain bike results, not ’cross.
“Honestly, it used to be a lot easier to drop in and do well,” said Wells. “There weren’t so many people focused on ’cross. It was everyone’s second sport. But now that it’s gotten so much more popular, it’s become a lot of people’s No. 1 sport. So they get a few percentages better and that makes it tougher. So instead of riding in the front, I’m riding in the back.”
Instead of focusing on cyclocross, Wells said his most immediate goals are a second win at the famed Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race and success at the 2013 mountain bike world championships.
“Say what you want about Leadville as a true mountain bike race, but I love it,” he said. “It’s so much different than anything else we usually do, and I get to train at home for three-four weeks in the summer when it’s beautiful in Colorado and all the good trails are open.”