LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (VN) — While news of a last-minute date change for the elite men’s and women’s world cyclocross championships — from Sunday to Saturday due to the threat of course flooding from rising waters of the Ohio River — caused ripples throughout the event entourage, the reaction from the riders themselves was one of nonchalance.
American Katie Compton, the World Cup series champion and America’s biggest hope for a rainbow jersey, told VeloNews.com Friday morning that racing on Saturday rather than Sunday “doesn’t change much.”
“At first it was surprising,” said Compton. “I didn’t really think about it, but, yeah, the river flooding the course is obviously a huge deal. The only thing it really changes is today’s preparation, and then I’ll race tomorrow like it’s Sunday.
“We’re all in the same boat, we all have to deal with it the same. The only sad part is that instead of a weekend of world championship racing, it’s only one day.”
According to a UCI press release, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that high water levels in the Ohio River will cause Beargrass Creek to flood the low lying areas of the Eva Bandman Park race venue in the early hours on Sunday morning. The water level is expected to continue rising for the next 48 hours.
Dutch rider Lars Van de Haar, who excels on a fast course rather than in muddy conditions, told De Telegraaf that he had “no problems” with the change in dates.
“If it’s one day earlier, and the course is still fast and the ground is still hard, that’s good for me,” he said. “It’s better that it’s fast. I have no worries.”
Like Van de Haar, American Ryan Trebon said he preferred a Saturday race — and that it was the race organization that would suffer more than the racers.
“I’ve been ready to race since Wednesday,” Trebon said. “It’s just one less day of hanging out in the hotel. It’s much easier to race one day earlier, rather than reschedule everything to another time.
“The racers are the least put out, really — think of all the work everyone else is doing. We just show up one day early, it’s much more hassle for the race organization than for us. I think some people’s perspective is off. People get upset about it, when they should just go out and ride.”
If there was a concern among riders, it was that some regretted riding harder than they otherwise would have on Thursday, during course reconnaissance.
Belgian Sven Nys told Het Nieuwsblad that while he was relaxed about the date change, he regretted training hard on Thursday under the assumption he had 72 hours to recover.
“The conditions are the same for everyone, there is no problem and there is nothing to do about it, “Nys said. “The disadvantage is that Thursday I trained seriously, which I would have never done. Today there is only one thing to do — rest, and enough hope to recover. Normally I would go today to explore the course again, but instead I’ll rest.”
American Tim Johnson said the same, telling VeloNews: “It doesn’t matter to me as a rider, although I wish I hadn’t ridden so hard yesterday. It doesn’t affect me all that much.
“I suppose you could talk about the minuscule difference made by doing openers two days before instead of one day before, but everyone’s in the same boat. It sucks the most for all the people who were looking forward to two full days of cheering and partying.”
With the Super Bowl held Sunday afternoon, as well as a wild “foam party” rescheduled for Saturday evening, most racers said the date change would allow for a more relaxed lead-in to their off-season.
“It’s not a big deal,” said Jeremy Powers, the 2012 U.S. national champion. “I’m confident the organization and people who have monitored this know the situation, and based on everything, they know what had to be done.
“Louisville is great, the city has been incredible. The public works staff has set up a sand barricade to help keep this thing at bay through Saturday. You can control a lot of things, but Mother Nature isn’t one of them.
“And looking at the bright side, this will give everyone an extra day of recovery from the debauchery on Saturday before they have to head back to work on Monday.”