Cyclocross – VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Tue, 27 Sep 2016 23:54:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://velonews.competitor.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/cropped-Velonews_favicon-2-32x32.png Cyclocross – VeloNews.com http://velonews.competitor.com 32 32 Jingle Cross Photo Essay: Field of dreams http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/feature/jingle-cross-photo-essay_421476 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/feature/jingle-cross-photo-essay_421476#respond Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:58:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421476 Jingle Cross transforms a little hill in Iowa into cyclocross's version of the "Field of Dreams" with the second World Cup of the season.

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You think about sports and Iowa and, after Hawkeye football, it’s hard not to think about “Field of Dreams” and its mystical baseball field out in the corn. You wonder if maybe Dr. John Meehan, who started Jingle Cross about a decade ago, heard that same enigmatic whisper — “If you build it, he will come” — when he decided to build a world-class cyclocross course out in the cornfields south of Iowa City.

Maybe not, but somehow he and his race captured some of that same magic. Because Jingle Cross, second stop in the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup, really was magical. According to the race organization, perhaps as many as 10,000 people came, and they poured out sound and support and won a lot of hearts in the process.

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Two things to know about Jingle Cross: First, it moved from a long-held place in the winter ‘cross calendar to September to accommodate the World Cup, but still offered cyclocross fans a taste of Christmas on a scorching hot day. Second, the race has always been about kids, from the everybody-wins kids races early in the day to the money it raises for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Many young fans sported a look commonly seen in the fields of Flanders in Belgium, but perhaps not so often in the fields of the American midwest.

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The course was a sprawling, labyrinthine tangle that snaked around the barns of the Johnson County Fairgrounds before climbing the steep slopes of “Mount Krumpit” and plunging back down a descent that might as well have been the steep and technical Koppenberg. After heavy rains on Thursday night, the course was a muddy mess, despite temperatures close to 90 degrees on Saturday.

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In the rider parking area, it was like any other World Cup. Generators and power washers hummed, riders of the Telenet – Fidea Lions sorted tire choices, and American Courtenay McFadden got some help pinning up one last number ahead of the women’s race.

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The early lead in the women’s race went to Dutchwoman and World Cup leader Sophie de Boer, who got special dispensation to race in her trade kit instead of the series leader’s jersey thanks to the fact that UCI only had clothing suited to colder temperatures. De Boer could not sustain her early tempo and eventually faded to seventh place.

“I never raced in this heat, even in the summer. It was really warm,” she said later. “My heart rate was stuck at 80 percent, and I couldn’t go harder. I don’t know. I only was thinking, ‘I want to stop’ because it was so hot. The running parts there was no wind, it was insane. It was so warm. I don’t know how the other girls in the front can handle this.”

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As the early leaders faded, the race became a battle between U.S.-based riders: Czech Katerina Nash, American champion Katie Compton, French champion Caroline Mani, and others, with Kaitlin Antonneau chasing into the group from behind.

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Compton blew the race open with a series of attacks near midpoint of the 37-minute race. Only Nash could stay with her, and the two appeared to be headed for a classic duel before Nash suffered a mechanical.

The short running time sparked some minor controversy, and UCI officials acknowledged an error, saying they expected the race to slow as riders tired, but instead it sped up as the course continued to dry out. Few of the women in the race complained about the length though.

“It was hard. I definitely struggled,” said Compton. “I’m kind of glad they ran us a little short. Initially I came through with one lap to go and thought, ‘We’re running short!’ But then halfway through the lap, I decided it was OK. It’s just so hot, and when you’re not drinking — we’re all out there suffering the same, but I struggle a little bit towards the end of races that are warm.”

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For Belgian and European champion Sanne Cant, it was a second ugly day after a ninth-place finish in Vegas on Wednesday. Cant is a back-to-back World Cup series winner but appeared to struggle in the heat and finished 13th. She is now in 10th place and more than 60 points off the series lead.

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For Compton, meanwhile, the tables were turned. After a frustrating 2015–16 season, a World Cup victory looked like an enormous relief. If she was suffering in the final meters, she didn’t show it.

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Meanwhile, others clearly had suffered. Antonneau, who finished third behind Compton and Mani, collapsed on the ground in a tiny patch of shade just across the finish line. De Boer, meanwhile, sought cool in a bottle of water.

“My first lap wasn’t as good as some of the other people,” said Antonneau. “I think I was out of the top 10, 13th or something. But then towards the end of the last lap, I got into my rhythm and got going. These are the type of courses I excel at and like to do, so I’m happy to be able to finish on the podium here in the U.S. in front of my friends and family.”

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American Ellen Noble, who leads the World Cup’s under-23 category, earned a stunning fifth-place result, well ahead of a host of more experienced and accomplished women. If there had been any doubt about the present — or future — of American women’s cyclocross before this weekend, the first-, third-, and fifth-place finishes, won by a long-established veteran, a rising star coming into her own, and a comparative newcomer, respectively, dispelled them.

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Meanwhile, fans went crazy for an all-Colorado Springs podium. Compton, Mani, and Antonneau live within a few miles of each other at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

“It just cool,” said Antonneau. “Everyone was yelling and you could hear everyone saying your name, and it was so fun to be up there with Caroline and Katie. We all live in Colorado Springs, and they’re my friends. It was cool.”

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By the time the men blasted off the line about 30 minutes later, the sun may have been a little less intense, but the race was still swamped by the heavy, mostly windless weather. It was still hot, and the hazy early evening sunshine dappled the fields almost gauzily. The calendar may have said autumn, but the air said early August.

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Fans had thronged the hillside of Mount Krumpit, while others crowded into the barns of the fairground at its foot. A wave of sound followed the riders as they plunged down its slopes. It was classic American cyclocross. They don’t cheer like that in Belgium.

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The climb took a toll on riders like Marcel Meisen, who grabbed his bike and pushed, propelled by an enthusiastic crowd that mobbed the sides of the course. The descent might have offered a bit of relief from the heat, but the nasty off-camber turns demanded perfect concentration from riders like Thijs van Amerongen.

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Belgian Michael Vanthourenhout, who days ago looked like he might be headed for the win in Las Vegas before Wout Van Aert overhauled him in a dramatic final charge to the finish line, gave it another go. Vanthourenhout led, significantly, at mid-race. But the attack came too early; this was a race to be won with the slow burn.

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It was a long, lonely day for American national champion Jeremy Powers. Powers, normally all but unbeatable in domestic races, has struggled since a hard fall in Wisconsin the weekend prior. In spite of overwhelming support from a partisan home crowd, Powers could only manage 43rd place, two laps down.

Meanwhile, Laurens Sweeck, third in Vegas, was next to take a shot. But by the time he reached the front of the race though, Van Aert, who had been hampered early in the race by a jammed derailleur and was racing with a broken toe, was moving forward as well.

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“In the beginning I had a piece of wood in my derailleur, so it was a small problem, but I knew 20 seconds on this course is not the same as 20 seconds on a fast course,” said Van Aert later. “So there was no panic at that moment. Today I just focused on my own race and not what the others were doing. I tried to get back in my own rhythm, and it worked out.”

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Americans like Anthony Clark wrestled with a course more difficult than anything they typically encounter outside Europe. It was full of viciously off-camber turns, deep ruts, and rapid transitions between surfaces. It was enough to keep even the best riders off balance. Still, the unforgiving course was offset by the enthusiasm of the fans of all ages who poured into Iowa from around the country for the race. Screaming, ringing cowbells, they all but propelled riders around the track.

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And it was spectacular. The course offered dramatic views and generous sight lines, and was packed with features that gave it its own offbeat character. Like Belgian classics such as nighttime urban assault-style Diegem race or Zonhoven’s otherworldly moors and epic sand pit, Jingle Cross carved out its own identity with barns and corrals and barbecue smoke.

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By the final laps, it was clear Wout Van Aert had control of the race, easily distancing Laurens Sweeck and Kevin Pauwels, who himself overtook Sweeck late in the race. Racing with a broken toe — and a only couple of acetaminophen and ibuprofen pills to dull the discomfort — did little to slow the world champion down.

“There was pain, of course,” said Van Aert. “More in the beginning because, when we got in the field on the first running sections I felt it. But when the legs were suffering more in the second part of the race I forgot the pain. Only on the barriers I had some pain. So it was not the biggest suffering of the day.”

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It was all a gift to American cyclocross fans: seeing so many national champions so close up, enjoying a hard-fought race on a late, lingering summer afternoon.

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It was a gift to the riders as well. Sweeck, on the line, applauded the fans, pointing to them, thanking them for the support. It was something totally unique, he said later.

“The people here are really — they are also [cheering] for the second or the third or the 10th guy. It is different than in Belgium,” he said.

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In the end there were high fives for fans, handshakes for teammates and rivals, and more bottles of cold water.

“It was amazing! It’s incredible!” said Stephen Hyde later, top American in 10th place. “I had never — the only time I’ve ever heard anything like this was, not to compare myself to him, Sven in Europe. Sven goes through and everybody erupts. It’s the first time in my life it’s ever happened. It’s unreal. I couldn’t have imagined it. It gave me so much motivation.

“I think every single person cheered for me. It gave me an extra set of legs. It was unreal. I loved it.”

He wasn’t alone, there was plenty of love to go around. People came, lining the slopes of Mount Krumpit, which loomed over the cornfields of eastern Iowa like the Koppenberg looms, grassy and green, over the Flemish Ardennes.

Most of the time, hills like the Koppenberg are silent, lazy with the grazing cows and puffy summer clouds, sleepy and softened in the autumn rain. But you go there and you feel it: History has been written there, magic has happened there, and happened more than once.

So too with the ball field out in the corn. The movie magic that brought Shoeless Joe back to life became something deep and abiding.

Mount Krumpit has it too, for cyclocrossers, anyway. Long after the crowds depart and the muddy scars become faint tire tracks in the tall grass, cyclists go out to the Johnson County Fairgrounds and just feel it: Something special happened here.

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Jingle Cross: Van Aert puts on another show http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/race-report/jingle-cross-broken-toe-cant-keep-van-aert_421433 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/race-report/jingle-cross-broken-toe-cant-keep-van-aert_421433#respond Sat, 24 Sep 2016 23:35:56 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421433 Only a few days removed from a dominant Cross Vegas victory, Wout van Aert nabs another World Cup win on American soil at Jingle Cross

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Only a few days removed from claiming the first World Cup win of the season at Cross Vegas, Wout van Aert made it two for two Saturday evening in Iowa City at Jingle Cross.

Racing on a broken toe sustained in a crash in Las Vegas, the Crelan – Vastgoedservice rider was nevertheless the class of the field yet again, overcoming an early mechanical that set him back several places in the second lap and ultimately working his way to the head of the race and then soloing clear for the win. After eight laps in intense heat, the 22-year-old Belgian crossed the finish line 39 seconds ahead of Kevin Pauwels (Marlux – Napoleon Games). Laurens Sweeck of Era – MurProtec rounded out the podium in third, 56 seconds behind the race leader.

Top 10

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, (BEL), 1:02:47
  • 2. Kevin PAUWELS, (BEL), 1:03:26
  • 3. Laurens SWEECK, (BEL), 1:03:43
  • 4. Jim AERNOUTS, (BEL), 1:04:17
  • 5. Gianni VERMEERSCH, (BEL), 1:04:18
  • 6. Corne VAN KESSEL, (NED), 1:04:32
  • 7. Quinten HERMANS, (BEL), 1:04:35
  • 8. Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:04:44
  • 9. Toon AERTS, (BEL), 1:04:46
  • 10. Stephen HYDE, (USA), 1:04:46

Toon Aerts led through first lap with several of his Telenet – Fidea teammates grouped near the front as well to keep the pressure high on the up-and-down course. Van Aert hung near the head of affairs not far off the leader until issues with his chain forced him to dismount and make a quick mechanical adjustment midway through the second lap. By the time he was back on the bike, the reigning world champion had dropped back almost to middle of the pack.

Marlux – Napoleon Games’ Michael Vanthourenhout opened up a gap off the front towards the end of lap two as van Aert began working his way back into striking distance.

The field began to string out considerably in the third lap, with Vanthourenhout and Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea) leading into lap four. Vanthourenhout briefly dropped Hermans during the fourth lap, but he was soon caught up by a surging Sweeck, with Hermans and van Aert not far behind.

Sweeck took a small gap into the fifth lap with van Aert and Vanthourenhout riding together in pursuit. Pauwels, meanwhile, was working his way through the chasers all the time, beginning the sixth lap in fourth position as Vanthourenhout began to fade off of van Aert’s wheel.

It was in lap six that van Aert made the decisive move, delivering a powerful uphill attack to charge past Sweeck and then cementing his advantage on a tricky downhill. Crossing the start-finish line to begin the penultimate lap, he enjoyed a 12-second gap over Sweeck and a 28-second advantage over Pauwels, who had worked his way up to third.

Pauwels was able to overtake Sweeck in the final two laps, but nobody came particularly close to catching van Aert. Broken toe and all, the world champ rolled over the finish line for the final time over half a minute ahead of Pauwels.

“I didn’t expect it,” Pauwels said of taking the victory with an injured toe. “The last few days were hectic. In the beginning of the race there was also a mechanical. I got a little bit back in the bunch and afterwards I came at my own pace.

“I saw that I was making good lap times and coming back to the front. In the end, I was suffering throughout my body.”

Van Aert offered a ringing endorsement of World Cup racing on American soil after his second-straight victory.

“It’s a big win and I have to thank everyone who supported me in this preparation and also the crowd who came out. It was amazing, I think I’ve never seen so many people cheering,” he said.

“I hope next year we can make it even longer staying here, maybe for two weeks and we can do a few races in that period. I think it’s an awesome idea, and I think the guys who were here would say the same.”

Results

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, (BEL), 1:02:47
  • 2. Kevin PAUWELS, (BEL), 1:03:26
  • 3. Laurens SWEECK, (BEL), 1:03:43
  • 4. Jim AERNOUTS, (BEL), 1:04:17
  • 5. Gianni VERMEERSCH, (BEL), 1:04:18
  • 6. Corne VAN KESSEL, (NED), 1:04:32
  • 7. Quinten HERMANS, (BEL), 1:04:35
  • 8. Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:04:44
  • 9. Toon AERTS, (BEL), 1:04:46
  • 10. Stephen HYDE, (USA), 1:04:46
  • 11. Ian FIELD, (GBR), 1:05:07
  • 12. Steve CHAINEL, (FRA), 1:05:23
  • 13. Vincent BAESTAENS, (BEL), 1:05:32
  • 14. Tom MEEUSEN, (BEL), 1:05:39
  • 15. Rob PEETERS, (BEL), 1:05:43
  • 16. Thijs VAN AMERONGEN, (NED), 1:05:49
  • 17. Daan HOEYBERGHS, (BEL), 1:06:02
  • 18. Diether SWEECK, (BEL), 1:06:28
  • 19. Tim MERLIER, (BEL), 1:06:36
  • 20. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:06:49
  • 21. David VAN DER POEL, (NED), 1:06:53
  • 22. Dan TIMMERMAN, (USA), 1:06:57
  • 23. Kerry WERNER, (USA), 1:07:06
  • 24. Jeremy MARTIN, (CAN), 1:07:15
  • 25. Philipp WALSLEBEN, (GER), 1:07:25
  • 26. Anthony CLARK, (USA), 1:07:25
  • 27. Tobin ORTENBLAD, (USA), 1:07:26
  • 28. Daan SOETE, (BEL), 1:07:42
  • 29. Allen KRUGHOFF, (USA), 1:07:55
  • 30. Marcel MEISEN, (GER), 1:07:56
  • 31. Jonathan PAGE, (USA), 1:07:57
  • 32. Matthieu BOULO, (FRA), 1:08:12
  • 33. Michael VAN DEN HAM, (CAN), 1:08:33
  • 34. James DRISCOLL, (USA), 1:08:43
  • 35. Andrew DILLMAN, (USA), 1:09:14
  • 36. Travis LIVERMON, (USA), 1:09:32
  • 37. Justin LINDINE, (USA), 1:09:52
  • 38. Derek ZANDSTRA, (CAN), 1:10:03
  • 39. Curtis WHITE, (USA), 1:10:18
  • 40. Craig RICHEY, (CAN), 1:11:00
  • 41. Geoff KABUSH, (CAN)
  • 42. Jeremy DURRIN, (USA)
  • 43. Jeremy POWERS, (USA)
  • 44. Daniel SUMMERHILL, (USA)
  • 45. Antonin MARECAILLE, (FRA)
  • 46. Mark MCCONNELL, (CAN)
  • 47. Benjamin SONNTAG, (GER)
  • 48. Christian HELMIG, (LUX)
  • 49. Aaron SCHOOLER, (CAN)
  • 50. Troy WELLS, (USA)
  • 51. Yoann CORBIHAN, (FRA)
  • 52. Christopher AITKEN, (AUS)
  • 53. Trevor O’DONNELL, (CAN)

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Jingle Cross: Compton cruises to World Cup win http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cyclocross/compton-cruises-jingle-cross-world-cup-win_421430 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cyclocross/compton-cruises-jingle-cross-world-cup-win_421430#respond Sat, 24 Sep 2016 22:44:37 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421430 Katie Compton (KFC – Trek – Panache) powered to a convincing World Cup victory Saturday, claiming the 2016 Jingle Cross title in Iowa

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Katie Compton (KFC – Trek – Panache) powered to a convincing World Cup victory Saturday, claiming the 2016 Jingle Cross title in Iowa City.

Compton arrived at the front of the race towards the end of the first lap and stayed at the head of affairs all the way through the final crossing of the line in the first World Cup-level edition of the event. She took the win ahead of France’s Caroline Mani (Raleigh), with Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale) nabbing third.

Top 10

  • 1. Katherine COMPTON, (USA), 37:08
  • 2. Caroline MANI, (FRA), 37:26
  • 3. Kaitlin ANTONNEAU, (USA), 37:31
  • 4. Katerina NASH, (CZE), 37:56
  • 5. Ellen NOBLE, (USA), 38:16
  • 6. Catharine PENDREL, (CAN), 38:30
  • 7. Sophie DE BOER, (NED), 38:43
  • 8. Eva LECHNER, (ITA), 38:54
  • 9. Helen WYMAN, (GBR), 38:58
  • 10. Amanda MILLER, (USA), 39:05

The racing kicked off under sunny skies and very warm temperatures, with Iowa local Amanda Miller (Pepper Palace) surging out to a brief early lead. Cross Vegas winner Sophie de Boer (Kalas – NNOF) then took over at the front, before a downhill attack by Katerina Nash (Luna) strung out the race in earnest.

Nash, Compton, Mani, and Catherine Pendrel (Luna) had opened up a serious advantage over the rest of the field by the midway point of the second lap, with De Boer caught behind and unable to bridge the gap.

The group didn’t stay together for long, however, with Compton and Nash dropping Mani and Pendrel in the third lap, setting up what seemed to be a two-rider battle for the title — before Nash suffered a mechanical that derailed her chance at contesting the win.

Compton pressed on solo with a hefty advantage as a four-lap race was called, cruising through the circuit one final time with plenty of room to spare even as Antonneau surged past one chaser after another in pursuit of a spot on the podium. Compton ultimately crossed the line with a 19-second gap to Mani, with Antonneau coming home 23 seconds down. Nash finished fourth.

“Once Katerina had that mechanical I knew I had to keep the pressure on because I knew Caroline was back there and I knew Katie was back there and Catherine Pendrel, I saw her too. Climbing is not what I’m really good at, I’m a power climber, but I managed well, I rode smooth, I made a couple mistakes but not too bad,” Compton said.

Though she acknowledged the race was particularly short at just four laps, the American couldn’t help be thankful to call it a day after even 37 minutes in the oppressive heat.

“Oh my gosh, it was hard, I definitely struggled,” she said. “I’m kind of glad they ran us a little short. Initially I came through and heard one lap to go and was like ‘We’re running short!’ and then halfway through the lap I was like, ‘Yeah, this is okay.’

“It’s just so hot, you know when you’re not drinking, we’re all out there suffering the same but I struggle a little bit towards the end of races that are warm. That’s why I’m a cross racer.

“I think we should have done one more lap, but I’m really happy we didn’t. But technically, yeah, we should have done one more lap. The race, maybe it would have been different, maybe it would have been the same. But we were all struggling out there.”

Coupled with her third-place finish at Cross Vegas, Compton’s Jingle Cross win launched her into the overall World Cup lead, though she does not plan to race the full World Cup calendar this season.

“It feels really good, I wasn’t even thinking about that,” she said. “It’s kind of a shame that I’m not going to do the full season, but that’s okay. I’m focusing on the racing that I want to do, and I want to do well at those races. So it’s early yet. We’ve got a long season in front of us, I just kind of want to stay consistent and get faster. I’m super happy with this.”

Results

  • 1. Katherine COMPTON, (USA), 37:08
  • 2. Caroline MANI, (FRA), 37:26
  • 3. Kaitlin ANTONNEAU, (USA), 37:31
  • 4. Katerina NASH, (CZE), 37:56
  • 5. Ellen NOBLE, (USA), 38:16
  • 6. Catharine PENDREL, (CAN), 38:30
  • 7. Sophie DE BOER, (NED), 38:43
  • 8. Eva LECHNER, (ITA), 38:54
  • 9. Helen WYMAN, (GBR), 38:58
  • 10. Amanda MILLER, (USA), 39:05
  • 11. Rebecca FAHRINGER, (USA), 39:05
  • 12. Courtenay MCFADDEN, (USA), 39:26
  • 13. Sanne CANT, (BEL), 39:46
  • 14. Ellen VAN LOY, (BEL), 39:53
  • 15. Loes SELS, (BEL), 39:57
  • 16. Emma WHITE, (USA), 40:18
  • 17. Sunny GILBERT, (USA), 40:48
  • 18. Amanda NAUMAN, (USA), 41:15
  • 19. Joyce VANDERBEKEN, (BEL), 41:32
  • 20. Crystal ANTHONY, (USA), 41:50
  • 21. Sofia GOMEZ VILLAFANE, (ARG), 41:56
  • 22. Kathryn CUMMING, (USA), 42:08
  • 23. Jena GREASER, (USA), 42:30
  • 24. Arley KEMMERER, (USA), 42:39
  • 25. Amira MELLOR, (GBR), 43:14
  • 26. Emily KACHOREK, (USA), 43:14
  • 27. Sidney McGILL, (CAN), 43:15
  • 28. Caitlyn VESTAL, (USA), 43:52
  • 29. Mical DYCK, (CAN), 44:19
  • 30. Ashley BARSON, (CAN), 44:25
  • 31. Cindy MONTAMBAULT, (CAN), 44:26
  • 32. Ruby WEST, (CAN), 45:11
  • 33. Maria LARKIN, (IRL)
  • 34. Cassandra MAXIMENKO, (USA)
  • 35. Siobhan KELLY, (CAN)

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Cross Vegas Photo Essay: Europeans dominate desert http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-photo-essay-european-dominance-in-nevada-desert_421305 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-photo-essay-european-dominance-in-nevada-desert_421305#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 21:49:10 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421305 Cross Vegas returned for its 10th year — and the debut of the 2016–17 of the Telenet UCI World Cup — on Wednesday night in Las

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Cross Vegas returned for its 10th year — and the debut of the 2016–17 of the Telenet UCI World Cup — on Wednesday night in Las Vegas. The race has grown into one of the most successful and difficult in America, but it is also a party, a boisterous celebration of cyclocross.

The “Wheelers and Dealers” race, for bike industry insiders in town for the massive Interbike trade show, is a Cross Vegas classic. Pure spectacle, a little goofy, and all about fun. Costumes have always featured prominently.

Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Cross Vegas genuinely seems to have captured the spirit of the classic Belgian races that are the beating heart of cyclocross, then injected them with American spirit and some local color. Among the things you are not so likely to see on the cobbled slopes of the Koppenberg or the sand pit in Zonhoven are fish tacos or a former Belgian champion like Joyce Vanderbeken sitting among the fans and taking in an early race.

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Cross Vegas has taken a cue from Belgian races like the Superprestige race in Ronse, building an arena-like atmosphere where fans can sit on the hillside overlooking the course and see nearly the entire race. The enthusiastic hillside crowd only adds to the spectacle. Premium seating goes to the early arrivals.

Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Sven Nys, a two-time Cross Vegas winner, returned to the race in a new role. Retired after the 2015–16 season, Nys now leads the Telenet – Fidea Lions as a sport director. Nys, who won a world championship in the U.S. in 2013, is now an outspoken proponent of the expansion of big-time cyclocross to North America. The legendary Belgian rider was in high demand in Vegas.

Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Italian champion Eva Lechner finished second in the inaugural Vegas World Cup in 2015. Her fluorescent glasses were hard to miss under the lights at Desert Breeze Park. Her rather anonymous 16th place finish, unfortunately, was not.

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Belgian Ellen Van Loy was the first to hit the sand in a women’s race that ripped off the line and screamed around the thick grass course, strung out single-file. But Van Loy faded as the race developed and eventually finished 17th.

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Meanwhile the race developed into a four-way battle between American Katie Compton, Dutchwoman Sophie de Boer, and two Luna Chix teammates, the American-based Czech Katerina Nash and Canadian Catharine Pendrel. The quartet traded attacks until Pendrel cracked, then they raced to the finish in a three-way battle.

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It was a night of mixed performances for stalwarts of the American ’cross scene. Elle Anderson, preparing to return to Europe after recovering from a trying year there during the 2013–14 season, was isolated for much of the race and finished 18th. Colorado-based French champion Caroline Mani, the 2016 worlds silver medalist, couldn’t quite match the leaders, but still finished fifth.

Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

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Finally it was de Boer who emerged victorious, gapped on the last lap before charging back into the race and taking the sprint from Compton and Nash. De Boer picked up right where she left off: She won the final World Cup last season and kicked off the year’s campaign with another victory.

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“I’m not sure, I mean, if [Katie and Katerina] could have done better, I’m sure they would have,” said de Boer. “In the last lap Katerina attacked, and I also tried to attack, but I couldn’t drop them. So they dropped me. And the only thing I thought was that I had to get back. And if I could get back to those two, I have to be the first on the stairs. I don’t know, maybe they were both a little bit tired from battling each other and I could take advantage of it. But I thought I had to be the first one on the stairs and I did. I sprinted, and, yeah!

“I didn’t really expect this today. It’s my first race and it’s very special and wonderful to start the season like this.”

It was a well-earned victory and there was little doubt that the top-three women had left everything on the course. Nash crumpled to the grass, exhausted, just across the finish.

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Meanwhile, there was plenty for women who didn’t quite reach the podium as well. The Amy D Foundation rider Rebecca Fahringer finished sixth, earning a big embrace from Dan Dombroski, who runs the foundation. Cross Vegas was a special race for the late Amy Dombroski, who twice finished second in the race.

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“I’ve seen the race develop and it’s really amazing,” said Renaat Schotte, one of Belgium’s best known TV commentators, who knows a think or two about big cyclocross races. “It’s more than World Cup level. It’s world championship level. If you look at the way the course is built now, after the total makeover, the women’s race was really perfect propaganda for the sport. To have the decision on the final stretch — we had to wait for the finish line — and the tactical play was really nice.

“I think it has characteristics from certain French races, they also take the slopes up and down. But I’d say the course here has more fantasy than those forgotten French World Cups. This one is more vivid. It’s spicy. I love the sand dune — it’s a sand dune because it’s uphill, they have to run it.”

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The women’s race was a celebration of the sport, arguably one of the best battles the World Cup has seen in some time. Behind de Boer, Nash finished second and Compton third. It was the return, in some respects, of two legends: Compton back on form after a trying season last year, Nash back on the ’cross bike after a fine Olympic performance that kept her away from this sport for much of last season.

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Meanwhile, the men were lining up. It was a big race for American Jeremy Powers, who finished sixth at Cross Vegas last year, one of the best-ever World Cup performances by an American man. And, of course, it was a big race for world champion Wout Van Aert, seeking to extend his CrossVegas win streak begun last season.

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American Stephen Hyde was the first man to reach the sand, leading a furious chase through the churning dust. The clouds billowed under the bright lights, and the fans who crowded the hillside overlooking the race were treated to a second duel. The race ignited when Wout Van Aert bobbled on the stairs and fell.

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“I was for one moment not concentrated as I should have been, and I hit the first step with my feet,” explained Van Aert later. “And then I fell on my wrist. It was a quite stupid crash and actually painful also. But afterwards I made it very quick back into the front of the race.” (Van Aert later went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken toe.)

With Van Aert distanced, Michael Vanthourenhout attacked, sprinting to a quick 15-second gap over Laurens Sweeck and the rest of the chase.

“It was not a plan, but Wout made a mistake, and I went. But with six laps left, it was a little bit too early,” he said. “[After that] it was more tactical. I was always in second or third place, and Wout did a very good effort just as I made a little mistake, and he was away.”

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The huge surge at the front blew the peloton apart. Dutch rider David van der Poel was one of the victims, fading precipitously to 48th place, pulled from the race with two laps to go.

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His younger brother, former world champion Mathieu van der Poel, was one of several conspicuous absences on the start list along with countryman Lars van der Haar. Both riders skipped the trip to the U.S. to rehab injuries. Their absence did not dampen the enthusiasm of the fans, nor did it appear to diminish the vigorous competition.

Meanwhile, European racers were treated to some of the more esoteric traditions of American cyclocross, dollar and beer hand-ups among them. More accustomed to seeing fans tossing beers than waving dollar bills from the sidelines, maybe some were flummoxed. At least one hand-up apparently went badly wrong, leaving a handful of bills strewn on the course as racers flew past

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It was Van Aert, of course, who surged away in the final laps, riding to what has become a classic Van Aert solo victory, while countrymen Laurens Sweeck and Vanthourenhout battled behind. The sprint for second may have done more damage than Van Aert’s attack. It belonged to Vanthourenhout, who promptly collapsed on the ground, smiling, apparently satisfied with his night’s effort.

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There was something to celebrate for others as well. Quinten Hermans, still officially an under-23 rider, earned an impressive sixth place and celebrated afterwards with his former team director, Hans Van Kasteren, who sold the Telenet – Fidea team to Sven Nys last winter but made the trip to Cross Vegas anyway.

“It was a good race. It was really fast. I liked it,” said Hermans afterward. “It was just really hard with Wout and Laurens and Michael. There were three really strong riders on the podium. It felt like they were controlling the race and it was really hard to pedal in front. It was really hard to be in front of the group, and I was just trying to keep following.”

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And, in the end, there was plenty of celebration to go around. Two new Cross Vegas victors, and a successful 10th anniversary celebration for a race that director Brook Watts has built from a curiosity into the biggest and, arguably, most important race in America. Back in the spotlight, American cyclocross shone brightly.

The celebration was short. Riders, teams, and supporters would make an early start on Thursday morning, hurrying to Iowa City and the second American World Cup. The calendar says September, but here comes Jingle Cross.

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Despite broken toe, van Aert plans to race Iowa World Cup http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/despite-broken-toe-van-aert-plans-race-iowa-world-cup_421295 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/despite-broken-toe-van-aert-plans-race-iowa-world-cup_421295#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 20:49:43 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421295 The Crelan team reveals that Wout van Aert broke his left big toe by tripping and falling on stairs in the Cross Vegas World Cup race.

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While 57 of the world’s best cyclocross riders couldn’t bring down world champion Wout van Aert at Cross Vegas Wednesday night, an innocuous set of stairs did. The Belgian tripped, midway through the season’s first World Cup cyclocross race, and fell heavily. Thursday, his Crelan – Vastgoedservice team revealed that van Aert had broken his left big toe in the fall.

Photo: Crelan – Vastgoedservice
Photo: Crelan – Vastgoedservice

Van Aert, who went on to win the Las Vegas race in convincing fashion, is still planning to race World Cup #2, Jingle Cross, in Iowa City on Saturday.

Team manager Jan Verstraeten said that little can be done about the injury, but despite the pain, there’s also not much van Aert could do to make it worse.

The 22-year-old will test the toe on the bike in the interim, and the team said it will monitor his pain level ahead of Saturday’s tough, hilly race.

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Gallery: Under the lights at Cross Vegas World Cup http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/gallery/gallery-under-the-lights-at-cross-vegas-world-cup_421204 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/gallery/gallery-under-the-lights-at-cross-vegas-world-cup_421204#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 16:54:43 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421204 The cyclocross World Cup kicks off at Cross Vegas as Wout van Aert and Sohpie de Boer take victories in Las Vegas.

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Some of the world's best lined up for the first cyclocross World Cup of the season in Las Vegas Nevada. Photo: TDWsport.com Jeremy Powers, Wout van Aert, and Kevin Pauwels all had their game faces on at the start. Photo: TDWsport.com A good-sized crowd was on hand at the run-up. Photo: TDWsport.com A slightly uphill section of sand proved to be a decisive feature of the course. Photo: TDWsport.com Jeremy Powers led Jim Aernouts and Simon Zahner through the sand. Photo: TDWsport.com Wout van Aert looked through a turn on a plywood banked section of the Cross Vegas race course. Photo: TDWsport.com Corne Van Kessel rounded a turn on the grassy Cross Vegas course. Photo: TDWsport.com Wout Van Aert crashed with a few laps to go and had to chase to regain the lead group. Photo: TDWsport.com Jeremy Powers was the highest-placed American, finishing in 18th place. Photo: TDWsport.com Once van Aert rejoined the leaders he attacked and quickly opened up a 20 second gap. Photo: TDWsport.com Wout van Aert came into the finish straight with a 30-second lead. Enough time to get some high-fives from the crowd. Photo: TDWsport.com Cyclocross world champion Wout van Aert won the first World Cup race of the season. Photo: TDWsport.com Courtney McFadden, Amanda Miller, Katie Compton, and Katlin Antonneau got together for some photos before the race. Photo: TDWsport.com The Cross Vegas course is mostly thick grass, which favors the power rider over the quick and nimble. Photo: TDWsport.com Katie Compton was on the front row for call-ups at the first World Cup of the 2016-17 season. Photo: TDWsport.com Focused and ready to race, Caroline Mani led the women's field off the start line going for the holeshot. Photo: TDWsport.com Eva Lechner led the early part of the race, opening up gaps but was brought back as the race wore on. Photo: TDWsport.com The run-up section of the course was a perfect spot for spectators to get a good look at the racers. Photo: TDWsport.com There was a fly-over that proved to be difficult with tired legs late in the race. Photo: TDWsport.com Catharine Pendrel was the top Canadian finisher coming across in seventh place. Photo: TDWsport.com Belgian cyclist Ellen van Loy ran the sand. Photo: TDWsport.com On the final lap, each of the three leaders took their turn on the front with Sophie de Boer leading the trio into the finish straight. Photo: TDWsport.com De Boer held off Katerina Nash and Katie Compton to take the win at Cross Vegas. Photo: TDWsport.com Sophie de Boer was pleased with her first World Cup result of the season. Photo: TDWsport.com

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Cross Vegas: Crash can’t stop dominant Van Aert http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-crash-cant-stop-dominant-van-aert_421160 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-crash-cant-stop-dominant-van-aert_421160#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 05:45:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421160 World champion Wout van Aert can't be stopped by a crash midway through Cross Vegas as he rides to victory in season's first World Cup.

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The outright favorite, the defending champion, the world champion, Wout van Aert proved so far ahead of the competition Wednesday night at Cross Vegas that even a crash couldn’t keep him from winning. And it wasn’t a simple slip-up on the grassy course in Las Vegas. The Crelan – Vastgoedservice rider landed heavily on his chest and hips on a stair-step run-up midway through the race. But he battled back from about 20th place to solo to victory.

“The crash was pretty painful, and afterwards I got a kind of boost of the adrenaline,” van Aert said. “I made it very quick back in front. At that point, I was not sure at all that I could do the final move.” Michael Vanthourenhout beat Laurens Sweeck to second place in the final lap of racing in the first race of this season’s cyclocross World Cup.

Top-10 results

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, (BEL), 1:06:53
  • 2. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:07:16
  • 3. Laurens SWEECK, (BEL), 1:07:19
  • 4. Toon AERTS, (BEL), 1:07:25
  • 5. Rob PEETERS, (BEL), 1:07:32
  • 6. Quinten HERMANS, (BEL), 1:07:38
  • 7. Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:07:43
  • 8. Philipp WALSLEBEN, (GER), 1:07:52
  • 9. Tim MERLIER, (BEL), 1:07:54
  • 10. Thijs VAN AMERONGEN, (NED), 1:08:00

Cannondale – CyclocrossWorld.com’s Stephen Hyde took holeshot on a chaotic start that saw a large crash take out many riders in the back of the field.

After running around Hyde in the sand pit, Vanthourenhout (Marlux – Napoleon Games) got a slight gap with van Aert chasing alone. A group of 10 coalesced at the front after the first lap, although several other small chase groups stayed in sight and yo-yoed on and off with the leaders.

The sand pit, which was deep, soft, and slightly uphill, proved a decisive feature of the course. Vanthourenhout, van Aert, and Quinten Hermans went away on the second passage of the sand. But it was too early for a move to go, and Sweeck, Hermans’s Telenet – Fidea teammate, brought back the trio.

Van Aert tripped and fell flat on his face on a set of stairs during the fourth lap, and soon was out of the front group, clutching his hip in pain.

Vanthourenhout again took advantage of the sand pit, and rode off the front alone, as the world champion fought to regain his rhythm after the crash. But in the course of about one lap, van Aert recovered, and rode back to second place, from at least 20 riders back, nearly 30 seconds in arrears. He set a furious pace, chasing the lone leader, with only Sweeck and Hermans able to follow.

Van Aert made the catch and quickly passed Vanthourenhout on the race’s sixth lap, forming a group of four, which soon became five with the addition of another one of Hermans’s teammates, Toon Aerts.

Sweeck and Vanthourenhout again escaped for a moment after the sand pit, but the tireless van Aert brought back the gap. A lap later, the same scenario repeated itself. They came into the final three laps of racing with a group of 14, riding a bit slower, a bit cagey.

The large front group didn’t last long, however, as van Aert attacked the course’s steepest hill. Vanthourenhout could follow, and Sweeck could keep them close.

Van Aert buried the knife on the sand pit, riding it with pace while Vanthourenhout came unglued. Sweeck managed to ride the obstacle, but was far slower, and the world champ was soon out of sight. “In the pre-ride I already felt that it was a critical point, the sand pit was very tough to make it in somebody’s wheel. It was something that was on my mind before the race,” van Aert said.

With two laps to go, van Aert was 19 seconds ahead; with one to go, the lead was out to an impossible 34 seconds.

The battle for podium placings came down to Vanthourenhout and Sweeck, and appropriately, it was decided in the sand pit, where the former got enough of a gap to hold onto second.

The cyclocross World Cup continues Saturday with a new addition to the calendar, Jingle Cross in Iowa City. “I enjoy my time here and I’m very grateful for the American people that come out to the races. They’re very enthusiastic,” van Aert added.

Results

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, (BEL), 1:06:53
  • 2. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:07:16
  • 3. Laurens SWEECK, (BEL), 1:07:19
  • 4. Toon AERTS, (BEL), 1:07:25
  • 5. Rob PEETERS, (BEL), 1:07:32
  • 6. Quinten HERMANS, (BEL), 1:07:38
  • 7. Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:07:43
  • 8. Philipp WALSLEBEN, (GER), 1:07:52
  • 9. Tim MERLIER, (BEL), 1:07:54
  • 10. Thijs VAN AMERONGEN, (NED), 1:08:00
  • 11. Tom MEEUSEN, (BEL), 1:08:20
  • 12. Kevin PAUWELS, (BEL), 1:08:41
  • 13. Gianni VERMEERSCH, (BEL), 1:08:44
  • 14. Julien TARAMARCAZ, (SUI), 1:08:49
  • 15. Matthieu BOULO, (FRA), 1:08:53
  • 16. Jim AERNOUTS, (BEL), 1:09:10
  • 17. Michael VAN DEN HAM, (CAN), 1:09:13
  • 18. Jeremy POWERS, (USA), 1:09:44
  • 19. Steve CHAINEL, (FRA), 1:09:51
  • 20. Marcel WILDHABER, (SUI), 1:09:51
  • 21. Daan SOETE, (BEL), 1:09:51
  • 22. Geoff KABUSH, (CAN), 1:09:55
  • 23. Jeremy MARTIN, (CAN), 1:09:57
  • 24. Ian FIELD, (GBR), 1:10:01
  • 24. Simon ZAHNER, (SUI), 1:10:01
  • 26. Travis LIVERMON, (USA), 1:10:35
  • 27. Tobin ORTENBLAD, (USA), 1:10:44
  • 28. Jeremy DURRIN, (USA), 1:10:51
  • 29. James DRISCOLL, (USA), 1:10:51
  • 30. Daan HOEYBERGHS, (BEL), 1:10:59
  • 31. Stephen HYDE, (USA), 1:11:42
  • 32. Diether SWEECK, (BEL), 1:11:45
  • 33. Daniel SUMMERHILL, (USA), 1:11:46
  • 34. Craig RICHEY, (CAN), 1:11:47
  • 35. Hector RIVEROS, (COL), 1:11:55
  • 36. Troy WELLS, (USA), 1:12:11
  • 37. Jonathan PAGE, (USA), 1:12:11
  • 38. Anthony CLARK, (USA), 1:12:24
  • 39. Justin LINDINE, (USA), 1:12:41
  • 40. Mark MCCONNELL, (CAN), 1:13:00
  • 41. Allen KRUGHOFF, (USA)
  • 42. Kerry WERNER, (USA)
  • 43. Dan TIMMERMAN, (USA)
  • 44. Benjamin SONNTAG, (GER)
  • 45. Jens VANDEKINDEREN, (BEL)
  • 46. Derek ZANDSTRA, (CAN)
  • 47. Aaron SCHOOLER, (CAN)
  • 48. David VAN DER POEL, (NED)
  • 49. Curtis WHITE, (USA)
  • 50. Yoann CORBIHAN, (FRA)
  • 51. Scott SMITH, (USA)
  • 52. Vincent BAESTAENS, (BEL)
  • 53. Christian HELMIG, (LUX)
  • 54. Louis WOLF, (GER)
  • 55. Jose Alfredo PACHECO ROSES, (MEX)
  • 56. Christhian RAVELO-AVILA, (COL)
  • 57. Volodymyr STARYCHENKO, (UKR)
  • 58. Jarno TREY, (EST)

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Cross Vegas: De Boer comes back from the dead http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-de-boer-comes-back-from-the-dead_421157 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/cross-vegas-de-boer-comes-back-from-the-dead_421157#respond Thu, 22 Sep 2016 04:18:20 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421157 Sophie de Boer looked to be dropped by Katerina Nash and Katie Compton, but the Dutchwoman fought back into the race and won Cross Vegas.

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It was easy to count out Sophie de Boer halfway through the final lap of Cross Vegas, as Katerina Nash attacked the course’s steepest hill. Only U.S. champion Katie Compton could follow Nash, and the Kalas – NNOF rider looked to be dropped in the first round of the cyclocross World Cup, Wednesday night in Las Vegas. But de Boer battled back to the leaders, and made a bold final move to win in a drag race ahead of Nash, who was second; Compton was third. “In the last lap we were all looking at each other, so I thought I could take my chance,” de Boer said.

Caroline Mani was fast off the line leading the field into the first corners. But the French champion was not a factor as the Italian champion, Eva Lechner, quickly took the lead and held it for the first lap. The Luna rider was one of the few women to ride one of the artificial stairs on the course.

Top-10 results

  • 1. Sophie DE BOER, (NED), 47:11
  • 2. Katerina NASH, (CZE)
  • 3. Katherine COMPTON, (USA)
  • 4. Amanda MILLER, (USA), 47:30
  • 5. Caroline MANI, (FRA), 47:37
  • 6. Rebecca FAHRINGER, (USA), 47:50
  • 7. Catharine PENDREL, (CAN), 48:18
  • 8. Ellen NOBLE, (USA), 48:33
  • 9. Sanne CANT, (BEL), 48:41
  • 10. Courtenay MCFADDEN, (USA), 48:41

Early in the second lap, Lechner’s Luna teammate and fellow mountain biker Catharine Pendrel took a flyer. At first, the chase hesitated, but by the start of the second lap, a trio of Compton (Trek – Panache), de Boer, and Nash (Luna) caught the Canadian.

Pendrel paid for her early efforts by the race’s halfway point. After dangling off the back of the lead group, she was dropped just after the course’s tough uphill sand pit, which all of the women were running.

Through laps four and five, the lead trio rode together, keeping a chase of Amanda Miller (Boulder Cyclesport) and Mani at bay.

Compton chose to lead the group into the sixth and final lap. Nash soon tested the waters with an attack on one of the course’s steepest climbs. By all appearances, de Boer was done for, several bike lengths behind.

The Dutchwoman dragged herself back up to the two leaders after the sand pit, but again was gapped.

Nash tried another attack, moving to the lead for a sinuous section of switchbacks. De Boer chased back on and went right to the front, trying — what appeared to be —one final effort before the flyover, but Nash and Compton quickly passed her.

But somehow, de Boer found one final match to burn, riding back to the front on a section of sidewalk and attacking into the final steps. “They were waiting so I thought, ‘Oh I’m just going to go for it,’” said de Boer. “My teammate, he was screaming, ‘You have to be at the front on the stairs.’”

She did just that, led Nash around the final right-hand bend, and gutted out a tough sprint to claim the win and the first World Cup leader’s jersey of the 2016-17 season.

Results

  • 1. Sophie DE BOER, (NED), 47:11
  • 2. Katerina NASH, (CZE)
  • 3. Katherine COMPTON, (USA)
  • 4. Amanda MILLER, (USA), 47:30
  • 5. Caroline MANI, (FRA), 47:37
  • 6. Rebecca FAHRINGER, (USA), 47:50
  • 7. Catharine PENDREL, (CAN), 48:18
  • 8. Ellen NOBLE, (USA), 48:33
  • 9. Sanne CANT, (BEL), 48:41
  • 10. Courtenay MCFADDEN, (USA), 48:41
  • 11. Joyce VANDERBEKEN, (BEL), 48:41
  • 12. Loes SELS, (BEL), 49:01
  • 13. Sunny GILBERT, (USA), 49:06
  • 14. Mical DYCK, (CAN), 49:13
  • 15. Emma WHITE, (USA), 49:17
  • 16. Eva LECHNER, (ITA), 49:21
  • 17. Ellen VAN LOY, (BEL), 49:31
  • 18. Elle ANDERSON, (USA), 49:40
  • 19. Kaitlin ANTONNEAU, (USA), 50:08
  • 20. Jessica CUTLER, (USA), 50:20
  • 21. Amanda NAUMAN, (USA), 50:41
  • 22. Kathryn CUMMING, (USA), 50:46
  • 23. Sandra WALTER, (CAN), 50:54
  • 24. Sofia GOMEZ VILLAFANE, (ARG), 51:30
  • 25. Arley KEMMERER, (USA), 51:30
  • 26. Cindy MONTAMBAULT, (CAN), 51:52
  • 27. Crystal ANTHONY, (USA), 52:18
  • 28. Cassandra MAXIMENKO, (USA), 52:24
  • 29. Jena GREASER, (USA), 53:09
  • 30. Sidney McGILL, (CAN), 53:15
  • 31. Caitlyn VESTAL, (USA), 53:24
  • 32. Ashley BARSON, (CAN), 53:41
  • 33. Siobhan KELLY, (CAN), 55:13
  • 34. Maria LARKIN, (IRL)

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How Cross Vegas survived the jump to the World Cup http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/how-cross-vegas-survived-the-jump-to-the-world-cup_421076 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/how-cross-vegas-survived-the-jump-to-the-world-cup_421076#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 16:57:16 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=421076 The jump into the World Cup raised Cross Vegas's overhead costs to around a half-million dollars. To make it work, Brook Watts had to get

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For the second consecutive year, Cross Vegas will kick off cyclocross’s World Cup series with a fast, twisting course at Las Vegas’s Desert Breeze soccer complex. And for the second consecutive year, Cross Vegas’s promoter Brook Watts will see the bill for his event approach the half-million dollar mark.

Cross Vegas’s jump into the World Cup last year raised its overhead costs by 30 percent. To cover those costs, Watts had to get creative.

“I like to say that I now run a hospitality and food/beverage operation that’s also attached to a bicycle race,” Watts says. “I’ve found ways to slice and dice Cross Vegas and sell sponsorships and [VIP packages] to as many people as possible.”

Thus far, Watts’s business plan has worked. Unlike the other major international cycling races in the U.S., which hemorrhage money and often require a wealthy backer to cover costs, Cross Vegas pays for itself — in fact, it turns a small profit.

That’s because Watts long ago adopted a walk-before-you-run approach with his race, growing it incrementally each year, instead of reaching beyond his means.

“We’ve always turned a profit — some years it was barely enough to buy dinner, but it was profit,” Watts says. “It’s because I have the bike industry here.”

Indeed, the race has always drawn spectators and sponsors from the Interbike bicycle show since its inception in 2007. In it’s first year, the race drew thousands of spectators, the country’s fastest male and female cross racers, and enough sponsorship cash to pay for the entire thing.

By year two, Watts said, officials from the UCI were asking whether he’d consider bumping up to the World Cup level.

“They kept needling me — I was like, we’ll get there someday,” Watts says. “We weren’t ready at that point.”

Watts visited World Cup races in Belgium and the Netherlands to see the enormous grandstands, fixed television cameras, jumbotrons, huge flyovers and other expensive amenities. He saw how those events generate huge sums through a variety of revenue streams: food and beverage sales, ticket sales, VIP packages, and sponsorship.

His event, by contrast, allowed fans to watch for free, and paid its overhead predominantly with sponsorship.

In the lead-up to the 2009 event, Watts says the Las Vegas Parks Department informed him that the surrounding businesses had begun to complain about the event’s size. The department told him he needed to find a way to control crowd size, or risk losing his permit. To comply, Watts raised a fence around the event, and began charging admission.

“There was definitely grumbling and people telling us we were killing the sport,” Watts says. “The resistance was pretty small.”

The ticket sales created a new revenue stream for the event. Watts was able to increase the food and beverage offerings along the course, which also bumped up the income. He also paid to rent a jumbotron and offered live streaming of the event.

But the new income still wasn’t enough to pay for a World Cup, Watts says. In 2009 Watts told the UCI he wasn’t ready. He repeated the message for the next three years as the race steadily grew its bottom line. After the 2012 event, Watts says he began to treat each year’s race as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup.

When Watts was finally ready to make the jump, he saw huge additional costs looming. Watts has to pay for the increased prize list, the television production, additional staffing and security, media and marketing contractors and parking attendants. He also needed four jumbotrons.

To cover costs, Watts began to dream up new sponsorship and VIP offerings. He beefed up Cross Vegas’s VIP and hospitality offerings, and built out nine exclusive VIP suites alongside the course, where companies could entertain clients and employees. He then built a larger public VIP area.

Watts sold the race’s three largest VIP suites to Shimano, TRP brakes, and Clif Bar.

Watts then began selling every feature along the Cross Vegas course to interested sponsors. For instance, the course’s infamous wooden ramp is now sponsored by bicycle manufacturer Raleigh. Helmet brand Kask owns the flyover, while bike brand Focus sponsors the stairs. Diamond Legal group sponsors the sand pit.

The added sponsor inventory and accoutrements have made Watts’s job substantially more challenging. It used to take him and his crew several hours to tear down the event. Now, crews work for days to remove it from the soccer complex.

Watts agreed to bring Cross Vegas to the World Cup level for 2015 and 2016. After this year’s race, he says he’ll meet with his team to evaluate the event’s place on the series. At this point, Watts says, he likes Cross Vegas’s World Cup status.

“If I can put on my tombstone that I was the guy to bring the World Cup to the U.S., then I’ve accomplished my goal,” he says.

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Succession success: Who are the next top U.S. ‘cross riders? http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/succession-success-next-top-u-s-cross-riders_420904 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/succession-success-next-top-u-s-cross-riders_420904#respond Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:39:27 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420904 Americans Katie Compton and Jeremy Powers have more to give before they quit ’cross, but they’re also busy laying the foundation for

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‘Cross isn’t coming. It’s already here.

In the U.S., the sport enters the 2016-’17 season after a decade of tremendous growth, fueled by major international events. There was the 2013 world championships in Louisville, and last year’s World Cup opener at CrossVegas (the first World Cup on American soil). This year, our country hosts the first two World Cup rounds in Las Vegas and Iowa. Cyclocross is no longer a sideshow: It’s the center stage.

On top of that, America’s best ever female ’cross racer Katie Compton is still a contender at home and abroad. Compton now owns 12 national titles, two World Cup overall championships, and four world championship medals. She is still searching for the elusive world championship victory, and is poised to have one of her best seasons ever.

The question on the minds of ’cross fans is how long the 37-year-old Compton can stay competitive at the sport’s pinnacle — and who will replace her when she’s done.

In men’s racing, four-time national champion Jeremy Powers has spent the last half-decade focused on World Cup success. Powers nabbed a seventh at Tabor in 2012 and a sixth at CrossVegas last season. That was the best-ever World Cup result for an American man, but still short of where he wants to be. Can his determination to showcase his true talent on home soil propel him to do it this year? Just as important, which young talents are poised to improve upon his accomplishments?

“Any discussion of [Compton’s] successor has to include Kaitie Antonneau. Her podium at Valkenberg last year was a big, breakthrough ride.”
– Geoff Proctor

While Compton leads and inspires through her performances, Powers plays a more active role as a mentor to the next generation.

The successors to both Powers and Compton could be competing right now for one of the country’s burgeoning junior development programs, which each year bring new talent into the sport. These teams are scattered across the country: Rad Racing and Bend Endurance Academy in the Pacific Northwest; Bear Development in California; Boulder Junior Cycling in Colorado; Lionhearts in Ohio; the JAM Fund in New England; and Team Twenty20 in Maryland. All have a focus on juniors. Countless smaller programs scattered across the country also expose kids to cyclocross at the entry level.

The growth of these programs bodes very well for American ’cross. When Compton and Powers ride off into the sunset, U.S. cycling will need a handful of young talent to continue the American invasion into cyclocross’s muddy European heart.

KATIE COMPTON BELIEVES SHE still has good years left in her legs. In fact, she’s excited that a recent medical discovery could help her achieve greater heights in 2016.

Compton struggled in 2015, finishing the season without a World Cup victory and placing a distant 13th at the world championships. The setback was just the latest in 20-plus years of hurdles for Compton. Over the course of her career, she has dealt with severe muscle pains, cramping, allergies, and fatigue. She was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2010, and started having problems with allergy-induced asthma in 2011.

Last August, after listening to a podcast on thyroid issues that touched upon many of the symptoms she suffers from, Compton went to her endocrinologist. Eventually she learned she has a gene defect: Her body lacks the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase enzyme (MTHFR) needed to convert folic acid into the usable form of methyl folate. (Compton refers to this gene with an expletive.) Ultimately, it can lead to an accumulation of folic acid in her system, which can become toxic, and causes the host of issues she’s consistently struggled with.

To combat the problem, Compton has simply had to adjust her diet. She no longer eats grains and enriched foods that contain folic acid. The dietary shift has had big results, especially since dialing it in this summer. “My power numbers are the highest they’ve ever been — ever,” she says.

Compton enters the 2016-’17 season with plenty to prove. She will no longer have the full support of the Trek Factory Team. Instead, she and husband Mark Legg-Compton have assembled sponsors (including title sponsors Trek and Panache) to run an efficient program that will see her hit five of the eight World Cups (including Vegas and Iowa) and the major domestic races. But at this point in her career, it’s all about January and the world championships, a race that has thus far proven to be her nemesis, despite those four medals.

“I would love to put together a world championships where I’m like, ‘Holy shit, I rode the best I could,’ so I can walk away being super happy and positive,” she says. “In years past, it just has never been 100 percent, in terms of a result.”

When Compton does retire, who will take her throne? Compton is a once-in-a-generation talent, so asking one youngster to fill her shoes is an unfair task. Instead, Compton’s eventual departure could require a couple of Americans to step up. Or six.

Geoff Proctor, director of EuroCrossCamp and the U.S. junior and U23 national coach, has his eyes on one rider, in particular.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

“Any discussion of [Compton’s] successor has to include Kaitie Antonneau,” Proctor says. “Believe me, last year, her podium at Valkenberg was a pretty big breakthrough ride.” Antonneau, 24, followed that performance with the top American placing at worlds, coming home eighth in Zolder. Before we see the last race of Compton, even bigger things are expected of Antonneau.

And she has other riders on her heels. Forging her own path is Elle Anderson, 28, who returns to face her demons in the heartland of cyclocross, basing herself in Belgium and tackling another full European season. She has shown promise: She beat Compton in 2013, came second to her at nationals in January 2014, and was fifth at the Valkenburg World Cup that fall. Then it all came crashing down as she struggled through a series of traumatic experiences and the emotional aftermath. Two years later, she can’t wait to return to Belgium.

“In Europe, the racing is not really inclusive, not really friendly, not really approachable,” Anderson says. “But for some reason I just love it more.”

Younger still, Ellen Noble joins Powers on the Aspire Racing team. The 21-year-old was sixth at the under-23 world championships last year. There’s also 19-year-old Emma White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), who was third at the under-23 national championships (and won two silver medals at junior worlds in Richmond, in the road race and time trial).

Compton believes other youngsters will emerge.

“In women’s racing, you never know who might just jump in there and be really good,” says Compton, who herself flashed onto the scene when she won her first national title after transitioning from track racing. “Maybe she’s racing collegiate or maybe she’s not even racing her bike yet.”

THE LAST TIME AN American won a world championship in cyclocross was in 1999, when Matt Kelly rode his custom-made LeMond to a historic victory in the junior race in Poprad, Slovakia. American men have come up short ever since, with 2007 being the most noteworthy close call. That year, Jonathan Page and Danny Summerhill took silvers in the elite and junior races, respectively.

American men have struggled at World Cup races. Powers, 33, readily admits that Europe doesn’t elicit his best work. “It eludes me,” Powers says. “I do fine, but they’re not my best performances.”

Luckily for him — and American cyclocross fans — there are those two World Cup races in the U.S. this season. That has Powers determined to be better than ever. After all, his sixth place at CrossVegas last year gave him a huge boost of confidence.

“Stephen’s ability to adapt is strong. Being in Belgium doesn’t really affect him like it does me.”
– Jeremy Powers

“I can tell you that’s the best finish an American male has ever had at a World Cup. That’s not insignificant,” Powers says. “It means that from where I came from, which was getting my head kicked in when I was 20 racing in Belgium, to over the last 10 years almost being able to podium at a World Cup, someone’s got to do that work. It’s just not easy.”

Though Powers is clearly not done yet, he won’t last forever. Who will fill the void when he retires?

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

The man who often challenged him last year, Stephen Hyde (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com), is most likely to step up. Hyde isn’t young, at 29, but Powers and Proctor both see him having four or five more years of steady progression and success.

Powers predicts Hyde could top his own results in Belgium.

“His ability to adapt is strong,” Powers says. “Being in Belgium doesn’t really affect him like it does me. I’m not a fish out of water over there, but I’m a fish in low water.”

Behind Hyde, the next generation may be ever stronger and deeper. Gage Hecht will be very good, Powers says. (He was fourth at junior worlds in 2015.) Spencer Petrov, too. (He was fourth at the juniors Namur World Cup in 2015.) There’s also Curtis White, who has already shown he can compete with the likes of Powers in the elite races. Tobin Ortenblad will be a bit of a late bloomer, according to Powers. (He’s the under-23 national champ, having beaten White in the process.) Eric Brunner, Denzel Stephenson, Grant Ellwood: the list goes on.

“I can see all of those guys, and others like them, going on to have great, lucrative, fun, and fulfilling careers in cyclocross,” Powers says.

And then there’s Logan Owen, 21, who has been racing one bike or another since he was four. The multiple-time national champion is at another level, regularly contesting for big wins against Powers, Hyde, and the other stalwarts of the domestic ’cross scene. He was third at elite nationals. He’s had success in Europe as well. But Owen admits he is on the cusp of having to choose between road and ’cross.

“We’re getting closer. To be world champion in cyclocross takes an absolutely complete rider. … Steady improvement, eyes on the prize.”
– Geoff Proctor

And what of that choice, pitting one discipline against another? Is that sucking talent out of ’cross?

Proctor believes the most effective approach a young rider can take is to maintain a mix of disciplines well into his U23 years. In his mind, all five disciplines (cyclocross, road, mountain bike, track, and BMX) can provide opportunities for cross-fertilization and ultimately produce the most talented racer. The hope is the rider eventually settles on the discipline that fits him or her best. As far as a full-fledged ’cross career, Proctor firmly believes it is well within the reach of some of America’s developing riders.

Powers has a more business-like take on the situation: Win some ’cross races, make a name for yourself, and then go to the road. He sees no reason, especially when you’re 20, to go to the WorldTour.

“The model in cycling is not hard to see,” he says. “Cycling is about branding yourself. As soon as you put a foot over that bike and win a race, you should be branding yourself as an athlete, as someone that people should look for to get content from.”

Powers points to international riders Lars Boom and Zdenek Stybar as success stories from this model. He believes if cyclocrossers forgo marketing their personalities, they are missing out on cash and longevity in the sport.

“If you have that kind of personality and you can do that and you’re not doing it, you’re setting yourself up for disaster,” he says.

Powers does as much as he can to be a mentor to the younger riders, including managing his JAM Fund development squad. He also regularly reaches out to the next generation, offering advice on everything from how to race to excelling as a personality in the sport. Cyclocross is a hard sport to be in, as he says, and he wants to take a little bit of his extensive experience and pass it on.

In the past two years, Proctor and USA Cycling have worked hard to grow the American program, taking European trips built around the World Cup calendar. They pay special attention to the selection of riders who they feel are ready for that level of competition, all in an effort to prepare them for the world championships.

As a result, in the UCI’s nations rankings, the U.S. sits in the top four across all five categories: fourth in elite men’s, second in elite women’s, and third in under-23 men’s, under-23 women’s, and junior men’s.

So, how many more years will we have to wait for another world championship gold medal?

“We’re getting closer,” Proctor says. “To be world champion in cyclocross takes an absolutely complete rider. Some riders are really powerful while pedaling. Some riders are really good running with the bike. Some are super technically, some tactically. But to put it all together, the complete package? That’s pretty extraordinary and remains the absolute goal. Steady improvement, eyes on the prize.”

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Star ‘crossed: International cyclocross preview http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/star-crossed-international-cyclocross-preview_420914 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/star-crossed-international-cyclocross-preview_420914#respond Tue, 20 Sep 2016 12:44:08 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420914 Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel battle on the course, while retirees Sven Nys, Bart Wellens, and Niels Albert resume their rivalry.

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Cyclocross fans have long speculated what the sport would look like after Sven Nys retired. This year, we’ll find out.

Nys, arguably the sport’s biggest-ever star, has 292 professional wins and rode his final race at the beginning of 2016. His popularity and advocacy for the sport made him its center of gravity, even as his dominance began to fade. Without him, where would the sport go? Would Belgian fans still turn out by the thousands to watch a Nys-less race?

Have no doubt. There are plenty of storylines to follow on cyclocross’s international circuit this year. There’s the emerging rivalry between Belgium’s reigning world champion Wout Van Aert and last year’s world champ Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands. There’s the complete dominance on the women’s side by Belgian Sanne Cant. There’s also Nys’s return to the fold as a team manager. Get ready.

“I want to honor the rainbow jersey as much as possible by winning a few classics and scoring in the championships. But I also hope I can give the fans some really nice duels with Mathieu van der Poel.”
– Wout Van Aert

The biggest change to the season calendar, of course, was the addition of a second World Cup stop in the U.S., in Iowa City, just a few days after CrossVegas, which again served as the World Cup’s kickoff.

Back in Belgium, the sport is still growing too. A new entry on the calendar, the Brico Cross Geraardsbergen debuted on the legendary Muur van Geraardsbergen in early September. Races come and go all the time in Belgium, but few seem so poised to become instant classics.

One more new stop on the calendar — arguably the most important of all — will be Bieles, Luxembourg, which will make its cyclocross debut with the world championships at the end of January. It’s a venue that bears considerable similarities to previous championship courses in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, and Sankt Wendel, Germany.

It’ll be a long ride from the season’s first big races in Las Vegas and Iowa City to its climax in Luxembourg. With so much intrigue before the season even kicks off, it’s hard to imagine it will be anything but exciting.

LAST SEASON, EUROPEAN CYCLOCROSS started — and ended — with one name: Wout Van Aert. Van Aert won 14 out of his first 20 races and he didn’t finish worse than second until after Christmas. He finished the season by winning both the Belgian and world championships.

In late August, Van Aert told Belgian outlet Veldritkrant he hoped for more of the same next season.

“Actually, I have a dual objective,” he says. “On the one hand, I want to honor the rainbow jersey as much as possible by winning a few classics and scoring in the championships. But I also hope I can give the fans some really nice duels with Mathieu van der Poel.”

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

Questions still loom over van der Poel, who has struggled with the same knee problems that ruined much of the fall of 2015 for him. He had another surgery at the end of July and announced in late August he will miss the early-season World Cup races in the United States. He hopes to make his return in time for the Superprestige kickoff in Gieten, at home in the Netherlands, on the first weekend in October.

“Not riding in Vegas or Iowa wasn’t really a hard decision, it was just the right decision,” Van der Poel says. “I’ll give myself a few weeks to train, and I won’t suffer from the long flight and jetlag.”

Van Aert, for his part, says he wishes his biggest rival a speedy recovery. “I hope from the bottom of my heart the knee problems don’t become a recurring story,” he says. “Cyclocross needs Mathieu van der Poel. The fans are looking forward to big duels. And, to be honest, I need him too.”

Van Aert may have to wait for van der Poel, but there are other emerging rivals. Young Belgian Laurens Sweeck is growing “slowly but steadily,” according to Van Aert. Former Dutch champion and 2015 worlds runner-up Lars van der Haar is always a threat. The Dutchman stole three wins from Van Aert last season, and has long been on the cusp of a dominant season, but has never delivered. Perhaps that year is now, as he’ll race this season under the tutelage of Sven Nys (more on that in a moment).

The veterans will want their say as well. Belgian Kevin Pauwels has a slew of big race wins and medals from both Belgian and world championships, but has never fully delivered as an elite. He won just three races last season. Pauwels’s Marlux – Napoleon Games teammate Klass Vantornout, a two-time Belgian champion and multiple worlds medalist, battled illness and injury all last season and landed on the podium only once. Countryman Tom Meeusen managed four wins but only one in a major series race. Both will look to be bigger factors this year. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Belgian Eli Iserbyt, the reigning under-23 world champion, will line up against the elites in several races for the first time this season as he looks to establish himself in the sport’s highest ranks.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE, the story will be about old stars and new challengers trying to figure out Belgian Sanne Cant, who won 20 races and all three of the major series last season. The 25-year-old is also the seven-time defending national champion. With her dominance, she has attracted a new audience to the women’s side of the sport, which has long been marginalized, particularly in her home country.

A few years ago, UCI rules forced promoters to move women’s races to more favorable timeslots, but Belgian crowds often viewed these races as a chance to visit the course-side concessions. Likewise, Sporza, the Belgian sports network that was regularly drawing millions of TV viewers to some ’cross races, carried only brief summary rebroadcasts of women’s races. That has quickly improved, and today more and more fans are lining up to cheer the women course-side. Sporza has begun broadcasting complete women’s races just ahead of the men. The network reported nearly 600,000 viewers for the women’s race in Overijse last December, more than 50 percent of all Flemish viewers at the time.

Cant might not deserve all the credit — women’s cycling has a growing number of advocates in Belgium, including race promoters and UCI rider representatives like pro rider Helen Wyman — but her success has helped elevate the profile of women in cyclocross.

On the women’s side, the story will be about old stars and new challengers trying to figure out Belgian Sanne Cant, who won 20 races and all three of the major series last season.

Behind Cant, things become much less clear. Seven-time world champion Marianne Vos missed all of last season due to a series of nagging injuries, including a serious mountain bike crash in April 2015 that left her with fractured ribs. It ultimately led to a long struggle with overtraining syndrome. She had a solid road campaign this summer, and will continue on the road through the world championships in Doha in October.

“After having missed last season, I surely want to come back to competition, but I will only decide after my road season what I will do,” Vos says. “For sure I will take some rest first and start with a proper build-up, so it won’t be a full season.”

France’s Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, the 2015 world champion, also missed last season while recovering from a knee fracture. It’s possible she could miss this year as well. In a recent Facebook post she chronicled a season of setbacks, injuries, and frustrations in pursuit of an Olympic dream, which ultimately concluded with an abandonment in the Olympic mountain bike race. She did not know when she would return to the bike.

With Vos and Ferrand-Prévot out, Cant may leave everyone else fighting for scraps. But for all her success, she’s never won a world championship. Last year, in truly miserable conditions in Zolder, Belgium, she could match neither the power nor the finesse of Dutchwoman Thalita de Jong. She eventually faded to a bitterly disappointing third place.

De Jong, meanwhile, who will not turn 23 until November, was a surprise winner in Zolder, though rivals probably should have taken notice after her upset win at the Dutch national championship and a second-place finish at the World Cup finale in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. De Jong posted solid results on the road this summer and has said she intends to focus much more on cyclocross this season. Also in the mix will be Jolien Verschueren. Balancing a career as a schoolteacher with her racing, the diminutive Belgian broke through to the top ranks of the sport last season with wins on the challenging Koppenberg, in Overijse, and Mol, alongside impressive podium finishes and wins in a number of smaller races. Her Telenet – Fidea teammate Ellen Van Loy posted a handful of wins out of more than a dozen podium finishes — including two at World Cup races — and will likely be a factor as well.

Other wildcards include Britons Helen Wyman, a former European champion and worlds medalist, and Nikki Harris, coming off a road season that included a ride in the Olympic road race in support of Lizzie Armitstead. Their countrywoman, under-23 world champion Evie Richards, has been primarily focused on the mountain bike but could shake things up in the women’s field as well.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

LAST SEASON WASN’T just the end of the Nys era. Hans Van Kasteren, founder and director of the powerhouse Belgian Telenet – Fidea team, also retired and put the team up for sale.

Van Kasteren’s may not be a household name, even among dedicated ’cross fans, but it’s impossible to overstate his influence on the sport. Telenet has been unmatched in scouting and developing cyclocross talent: The team was built around two-time world champion Bart Wellens in 2000, and three-time champion Erwin Vervecken joined in 2002. Three-time world champion Zdenek Stybar, reigning elite and under-23 world champions Van Aert and Iserbyt, and Pauwels and Vantornout are all among riders who spent time on its roster. Telenet was also the first major Belgian team to field a full women’s roster. Harris, Van Loy, Sophie de Boer, and the late Amy Dombroski all spent time in Telenet colors as well.

When Van Kasteren retired, there was a flurry of interest in the team. Then Nys announced in December he had purchased it and would take over as sport director in 2016.

Meanwhile, Wellens, one of Nys’s biggest rivals, made his own retirement official in a ceremony at the Ruddervoorde Superprestige stop last season. After a year of puttering and making occasional appearances in old-timers races, Wellens was tapped to lead the new Steylaerts Cycloteam, launched by Christoph and Philip Roodhooft, brothers who are also responsible for two other squads: the Beobank – Corendon team of van der Poel and Cant and the ERA – Murprotec team of Sweeck.

Wellens and Nys, now as team managers, will be reunited in rivalry with two-time world champion Niels Albert, who has managed the Crelan-Vastgoedservice team of Van Aert for the past two years. As a racer, Albert was one of Nys’s most tenacious rivals, and he has since become a savvy manager. Albert is widely credited with Van Aert’s development into an elite world champion and undisputed king of cyclocross last season.

Nys and Wellens, meanwhile, find themselves as rookies in their respective managerial roles after a combined three decades of success as racers. Whether the pair can nurture the talent in their charge to match Albert’s hugely successful protégé is likely to be a central storyline on Belgian sports pages all season long.

Nys wasted little time in signing a new headliner for Telenet, announcing this spring he would bring van der Haar from Giant – Alpecin to the squad in January 2017.

“I had a beautiful period with Giant – Alpecin and I’m grateful for the opportunities they gave me, but as the only cyclocrosser on a great road team, that hasn’t always been obvious,” Van der Haar told Het Nieuwsblad in May. “Now I choose a team where cyclocross comes first. That is a serious advance, and I think I can continue to grow here.”

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Into the heart of darkness: The story of Elle Anderson http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/into-the-heart-of-darkness-the-story-of-elle-anderson_420173 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/into-the-heart-of-darkness-the-story-of-elle-anderson_420173#respond Mon, 19 Sep 2016 12:43:11 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420173 American ’cross racer Elle Anderson is heading back to Europe to race two years after her first, and traumatizing, experience there.

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Two years ago, Elle Anderson staggered through a miserable European ’cross campaign fraught with psychological trauma, personal struggle, and illness. This season, she’ll make a full return to the hallowed home of cyclocross, hoping to put her haunting past behind her.

Sometimes there are only a few firing neurons separating gritty determination from catastrophic implosion. At first, willpower is there at your side, fighting, refusing to fail. Every ounce of strength is driving you ahead, pushing, churning. Then, suddenly, nothing. You’re hollowed. The brain lets go.

Elle Anderson has walked to the edge of such catastrophe. Two seasons ago, while racing a full season of European cyclocross from her base in Belgium, she came precariously close to plunging into a chasm and being swallowed whole. She was emptied.

But it wasn’t the racing that nearly did her in. A race is a race, familiar no matter where it is, she says. The problems arose on the days between the races — short days, damp and cold. An American based abroad faces a great challenge, trying to survive without family and often without friends, with little race support or resources, immersed in a different culture. She had to overcome incredible odds to feel at home.

She never did. Anderson lived with a series of host families, with each situation becoming traumatic in its own way. She became increasingly uncomfortable by the situations she was placed in, and spiraled down.

“I just felt like a caged animal. It was just so scary,” she remembers. “I just backed myself into a corner and I didn’t know where I could go. I couldn’t communicate or relate to any of the people around me. It was so isolating and so extremely petrifying.”

One of the most lauded American ’cross racers in recent years lasted one season in Europe before depression, anxiety, and circumstance sent her back home.

But she never let go; she refused to give up. Inside her is a fiercely competitive savage — a Mother of Dragons, someone incapable of backing down.

Now, two years later, she’s ready to return to Europe and stake her claim as one of the best ’cross talents in the world.

ANDERSON WAS RAISED in Vermont. Both her parents attended Burke Mountain Academy. Founded in 1970, the school was the first ski academy of its kind in the United States. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Anderson started as an eighth grader and stayed for six years, attempting to fulfill her dream of becoming a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

“It’s almost like a boot camp,” says her mother Lyndall Heyer. “You cannot get through that school without being unbelievably focused and organized and driven.”

Unfortunately, despite her trajectory to make the national team, Anderson’s dream was destroyed by two devastating ACL injuries, something her mother says she still hasn’t emotionally recovered from. Like others before her, Anderson’s injuries led her to the bike.

Flash forward a number of years and Anderson was the revelation of the 2013-’14 American cyclocross season. Before that, no American had beaten then nine-time national champion Katie Compton since 2006. Anderson’s was a name that few people had heard before, and suddenly she was known for beating a legend, after doing so at the Providence Cyclocross Festival in October 2013.

As the season progressed, people expected ever-bigger things from her. By all accounts she delivered, at one point winning four straight races on consecutive weekends before taking second place at the national championships behind Compton.

AndersonNationals2014.BK
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

It wasn’t a surprise when she decided to take the leap to do a full European ’cross campaign in 2014-’15. She traveled to the sport’s epicenter and based herself in Belgium for the season.

It’s a step that would have made another Vermont native proud.

The parallels between Anderson’s career path and that of the late Amy Dombroski, killed in a cyclocross training crash in October 2013 in Betekom, Belgium, are uncanny. Dombroski also attended Burke Academy. She was previously a ski racer who suffered a serious knee injury that led her to cycling. When Anderson decided to make the jump to Europe, their paths became inextricably linked.

“I actually think about that often because I feel that I am traveling such a similar path to Amy, and the kind of emotions I feel about that are reassurance and gratitude,” Anderson said in 2014. “Because it’s reassuring to me to feel like I’m following Amy somewhere, that she’s been here before me and it’s all going to be okay because she made it through.”

The connections didn’t end there. Anderson was able to race in Europe for the Kalas-NNOF team, in part, because of Dombroski. After her death, Heyer wrote a letter to Dombroski’s “European family” out of the blue. She struck up a correspondence with Victor Bruyndonx, the family’s patriarch. Heyer encouraged her daughter to head to Europe and Bruyndonx was on board with the plan. Though Anderson was hesitant at first, Bruyndonx’s persistence eventually paid off.

She left for Belgium the Monday morning after the Gloucester race weekend in 2014.

BELGIUM HAS A HISTORY OF CRUSHING Americans who attempt to make it full-time in Europe. Beyond the obvious things it takes to settle in — a place to live, finding the right food, having a solid team and ample support — there is an intangible element that adds to the challenge. “From a larger perspective, it’s about trying to be at the absolute top of one’s game on a foreign continent while simultaneously being cognizant of that context of ‘otherness,’” says Geoff Proctor, who has spent years helping Americans race abroad through his EuroCrossCamp. It’s about being an outsider.

Unlike racing in the U.S. where the sport is community-driven and participatory in nature, the Belgian scene is cutthroat. Fans will throw things and jeer at anyone not named Sven Nys, Sanne Cant, or Wout van Aert. Inside the race, it’s no better — the competition wants to destroy you.

In recent years, only Jonathan Page and Christine Vardaros managed to truly make it work. They had a network of family and friends whose support cannot be overemphasized. Others have tried to do the same. Of course, Dombroski’s attempt was tragically cut short.

In 2004-’05, Jeremy Powers lived and raced both road and ’cross in Belgium full-time. “I got my head blown in,” Powers says. A brief return home for cyclocross nationals nearly became permanent. “My mom had to bring me to the airport and literally put my ass on the plane.” He never again tried to race full-time in Europe.

Of course, there is also the atmosphere. First, there’s the horrible weather. It never ceases to be wet. A constant drizzle trickles down over the saturated landscape. When there are storms — and there are often storms — it pours for days. It makes training outside difficult and mentally taxing.

It’s dark. Between November and February, the sun doesn’t rise before 8 a.m. and sets by 4:30 p.m. December and January are worse.

When you finally get out to ride, traffic is bad, and often surprisingly hostile to cyclists. The roads are dirty and in poor condition.

The grim bleakness is draining.

In walked Anderson.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

She moved into the home that Bruyndonx, in his mid-70s, shared with his elderly mother in Heist-Goor, south of Antwerp. Anderson even slept in the same room that Dombroski had used.

“When I stayed in Amy’s room, I could almost feel Amy’s presence still in the walls,” Anderson said at the time. “To be around people that supported her and that took care of her is really reassuring for me. I’m just grateful that maybe I can write a next chapter that she’s not able to write and in some small way I can be continuing her dream.”

Her trajectory continued skyward as she scored three top-five finishes, including fifth at the Valkenburg World Cup. And then, like a Belgian winter, life suddenly turned cold and grey.

To hear her tell the story of the series of traumas she endured next is to understand a broken woman. One particular incident highlights the purity of her vulnerability.

Bruyndonx, a former sport director and one-time insider in Belgian cycling circles, asked Anderson to go to dinner with a local politician (and an awkward mix of his friends and relatives) who was organizing her fan club. When she returned home, around 10:30 p.m., she startled Bruyndonx, who had fallen asleep on the living room couch watching TV. He immediately erupted, chiding her for coming home late, about not taking her cycling career seriously, not getting enough rest, cavorting with strange men, and on and on. He became nonsensical. They argued. Bruyndonx demanded she sit on the couch and discuss things. Anderson simply wanted to go to bed. He became further agitated and found more bizarre ways to deride and criticize Anderson.

She no longer felt safe. She was completely exposed.

“It was so alarming because it came out of nowhere,” she remembers. “At no other point had he ever said any of these things. I had only tried to appease him.” She tried to go to her third-floor room. He grabbed her arm. By 1 a.m., Anderson had had enough. She sought refuge in her room, only for Bruyndonx to try to stop her from shutting her door. She texted an acquaintance in town, pleading her to help her leave the house. She eventually did, but Anderson knew she had been fooled. She would never trust him or the situation again.

(Bruyndonx did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

“I put all my eggs in one basket,” Anderson says. “Vic had worked on me for months to help me trust him and help me believe that he was going to do right by me. I had no one else. When shit went down, being all alone in a foreign country, not having anywhere else to go, not having any sense of safety or anyone I could trust — my vulnerability was a result of the psychological warfare that he played.”

Being a female submerged in the muddy field of intimidating, chauvinistic masculinity that is the Belgian cycling world (small, tight-knit, and driven by very big egos), made it all that more frightening. “I’m surrounded by people trying to puff out their chests further to try and be my host, and own me, and be the person I rely on,” she says.

“Being all alone in a foreign country, not having anywhere else to go, not having any sense of safety or anyone I could trust — my vulnerability was a result of the psychological warfare that he played.”
– Elle Anderson

Since Dombroski had lived with Bruyndonx for two seasons, Anderson had a difficult time reconciling what she trusted Dombroski would tolerate and the chaos she was living. “I trusted that she made the right decision,” she says. But this? It created an untenable situation.

To add insult to injury, days after the incident with Bruyndonx, Anderson developed a severe sinus infection, something that plagues many Americans that race in Europe. She made the decision to move out, and try to move her things without setting off Bruyndonx, while battling a serious illness. She was afraid to take any medication because of her unfamiliarity with Belgian brands and which may have contained banned substances.

As ridiculous as it seems (and Anderson now fully understands how ridiculous it seems), she moved to the house of Emile Van den Broeck, the man who was driving the motorcycle behind which Dombroski was motor-pacing when she was struck and killed by a truck. She fared no better in this host home due to myriad reasons, not the least of which was the fact that Van den Broeck had a history of being enemies and friends with Bruyndonx.

“I can’t remember why I didn’t go home,” she says. “Why didn’t I call USA Cycling? That’s the most fascinating part to me, that I wouldn’t let anyone help me because I was somehow convinced that this was the only way to approach the situation.”

Her race results tanked, never to return that season.

Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).
Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com (File).

ANDERSON’S PARENTS WERE PROFOUNDLY influenced by a book they read when their kids were young. By Jean Liedloff, an American writer who spent two and a half years deep in the South American jungle with Stone Age Indians, “The Continuum Concept” details how the experience demolished the author’s Western preconceptions of how we should live. For Heyer and her husband, it meant adopting an unorthodox philosophy for raising their kids.

“If it wasn’t life-threatening to our kids, we didn’t say anything,” Heyer says. “We tried to never say, ‘Be careful.’ Because children are inherently careful. They don’t need hovering parents around them telling them, ‘Watch out,’ ‘You’re going to get hurt,’ ‘Be careful,’ ‘Don’t do that, you could fall.’”

Anderson stayed in Europe through the end of the 2015 season. She had made it. The worst was behind her. Or so she believed.

“I thought, I’m just going to get on the airplane, the wheels are going to lift off from Europe, and I’m going to leave that baggage behind. But we know that never happens,” she says.

She was completely exhausted, anxious, and stressed when she returned to the United States. Crushed. After returning to work for Strava in San Francisco, she began therapy. For months, she attended two sessions a week to try to unravel the reasons for her traumatic experiences. She resisted traditional medication, but ultimately learned many things from the mindfulness approach of her counselor. Though she was never given a formal diagnosis, she now recognizes she was likely suffering from a severe bout of depression. But a diagnosis was not of much concern to her. She looked forward to the journey ahead.

“I still wonder at my bravery to simply pack up and move to Belgium that first season, to move in with strangers I barely knew, to put myself in a situation with so many unknowns and so many risks that things wouldn’t turn out as I expected,” she says. “I didn’t once tell myself to be careful, to watch out in case things got tough, and I stubbornly refused to quit and go home early. The experience did hurt me in a way — it was traumatic. But just like reaching out to touch an open flame only to get burned, I learned to heal and to be resilient.”

After locking her bike away for all of July and much of August, spending time trying to heal, Anderson made the decision to return to racing for the 2015-’16 season, albeit later than usual. She began furiously working to design her own program, find new equipment, and return to racing. She did by late October. She raced domestically for much of 2015, garnering a few top-five results and placing fourth at nationals in Asheville, North Carolina. Then, somewhat astoundingly, she dabbled in European racing, managing to finish a number of races in the top 10. By most measures, especially under the circumstances, it was a successful return to a sport and a place that had, at least indirectly, nearly driven her to disaster.

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

“I THINK I AM MORE EXCITED about this coming season than I have been about cyclocross in a long time, which is really, really, fantastic. I just cannot wait to get back to Belgium!” said Anderson, now 28, who is ready to slay her demons. She’ll return to Europe this fall for a second full-season campaign. Is she afraid that all of those devastating emotions will come flooding back over her as soon as she returns to the cold and grey of Belgium? On the contrary, she’s beaming at the opportunity to prove she is now a harder soul.

“This is what impresses me the most about Elle: she’s extremely resilient,” Proctor says. “She came back. With a lot of self-reflection, she made some important changes.”

Therapy also helped her understand that she was the one that put herself in that dark corner. She had built up a dream — not to mention placed incredible expectations on herself after the successes of that previous season — only to see it crumble, swiftly and catastrophically. Disoriented by the frustrations she felt over losing control of her situation, she relied on primal instinct to see her through her darkest hours. “That is the reason why I want to go back to Belgium. Because intuitively, subconsciously, I know it’s really not that scary and there’s nothing that I’m really afraid of besides myself,” she says.

“In Europe, the racing is not really inclusive, not really friendly, not really approachable. But for some reason I just love it more.”
– Elle Anderson

While she searched for a European program to join, she never found anything that felt quite right. So, like last year, she’ll run her own program, with continued support from SRAM and new partners Velocio and Roti Cycling Services. The remainder of her sponsors and equipment choices are still a work in progress, as is her schedule.

“I’m not interested in racing in the U.S. very much. My heart is really in Europe, in the level of competition over there, in the environment and the culture and that challenge,” she says. “That’s very much what drives me, what motivates me. It has a power for me. It’s not really inclusive, not really friendly, not really approachable. It’s not really feel-good, but for some reason I love it more.”

When she was a young girl, Anderson would often admire her mother’s ski racing trophies, gathered across a 10-year professional career that took in both the World Cup and Europa Cup. She heard of her mother’s successful year spent racing in Europe outside the comfort of the U.S. Ski Team on an international racing license. Her admiration for her mother has, in many ways, made her who she is.

But despite her vehement wish to do things her way, on her own terms, without the help of others, this time around Anderson will have the positive support she never had two years ago. His name is Niels. Though their relationship is young and she’s reluctant to bring too much attention to it, having a trustworthy Belgian host, friend, supporter, pit crew, training partner, Dutch-speaker, and, yes, boyfriend all in one will make the foul, dark days far from home that much more bearable. Perhaps she’ll even have fun.

“I find success, maybe find some sort of happiness, in that environment. I can say the next question is, ‘Why?’ Why would you even want to seek out that happiness in a completely miserable place? Well, I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. For some reason, I feel like that’s the life journey I want to take and that’s what’s going to be most meaningful for me. Heck, if I’m not going to get paid, I might as well follow my heart.”

Into the darkness.

Photo: Benedicto de Jesus
Photo: Benedicto de Jesus

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Video: Trek CXC pre-ride with Sven Nys http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/video-trek-cxc-pre-ride-sven-nys_420901 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/video-trek-cxc-pre-ride-sven-nys_420901#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 20:39:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420901 Global Cycling Network tries to keep up with Sven Nys as the 'cross legend takes a pre-ride lap on Trek's 'cross course in Madison,

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Ryan Trebon’s exit interview http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/ryan-trebons-exit-interview_420711 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/ryan-trebons-exit-interview_420711#respond Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:32:25 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420711 Ryan Trebon recently announced his retirement. He raced cyclocross and mountain bike for 14 years, winning many national titles.

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Ryan Trebon recently announced his retirement from pro cycling. Over the course of his 14-year pro career, Trebon became one of the most visible athletes on the cyclocross and mountain biking circuits. (He’s 6-foot-6, so visibility came naturally.) Trebon was also one of the strongest and most entertaining athletes on the scene. He won national titles in cyclocross, short-track, and cross-country racing. He was never shy to show his emotion — both happiness and frustration — and was always quick to offer insightful comments on the action.

In the corporate world, the end of an employee’s professional tenure includes an exit interview with human resources. So we dug up our best HR questions for Trebon to gain some perspective on his career highs, lows, and in-betweens.

VeloNews: Why are you leaving?
Ryan Trebon: I just reached my expiration date. I still love to ride but lost my motivation to really make myself suffer in my training. Being injured for the last few years, and having to constantly rebuild myself after injury — I’m tired of that. I’ve had a decent career and I’ve done more than I thought I would ever do, so I just saw this as the right moment.

VN: Did this job match your expectations?
RT: When I first started racing at 14, I cut out photos of Mark Gullickson and Tinker Juarez and put them on my wall. I never told myself I want to win race X or Y, it was more that I wanted to be awesome like those guys. Once you list the races you want to win you set yourself up for failure.

VN: What was your favorite cyclocross course?
RT: I loved sandy races, like Koksijde and Hofstade. The course evolves every lap, and one line might be good, and then the next lap it’s gone. You can gain 10 seconds or lose 20 seconds, depending on whether you get it right or wrong.

VN: And your least favorite course?
RT: Any course that had snow and ice on it. I hated crashing on that [stuff] and was never good at it.

Trebon won cyclocross national titles in 2006 and 2008.
Trebon won cyclocross national titles in 2006 and 2008.

VN: What was the best victory during your career?
RT: It was a race on the [U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross] in Mercer, New Jersey, in 2007 or around then. I flew back from Europe and brought only one pair of mud tires, and of course it was super muddy. I got off the front, Tim [Johnson] was chasing me, and I had to pit every other lap to get the bike with mud tires washed. Tim closed a 40-second gap, and I was managing the course on these sub-par tires. Then I dropped Tim again. For me it was really fun. We made a not-so good situation work really well.

VN: And your worst defeat?
RT: The only one that still bothers me is the Big Bear NORBA National from 2004. It was my first year on Kona as a pro and I was leading the cross-country race for the entire race. That was back when mountain bike races were like 2.5 hours. Then I flatted on the last downhill. I was 23 years old and was so bummed because I was about to win. It took me another three years to win a NORBA race. That sucked. I was racing against Travis Brown and the other dudes who I really looked up to. I was totally inconsolable in defeat.

Trebon and Jeremy Powers were regular rivals on the domestic circuit.
Trebon and Jeremy Powers were regular rivals on the domestic circuit.

VN: What was your most interesting host housing situation?
RT: One time I was staying with a guy, and he was showing me photos of his motorcycle trip on his computer. He flipped through and there was this nude photo of himself. That was pretty weird. He was butt-naked on a rock. I was like, OK man.

VN: How about any strange racing memories from your career?
RT: The races I remember are the ones where I was completely blown out. One year Sea Otter was just the hardest, it was like 2:40 of racing on the big laps. I was so bonked that I had to stop and eat someone’s Doritos and cookies. It was just some spectator alongside the course. I remember riding up this final three-mile climb just chowing down on this dude’s Doritos. It’s like hey, I’m way out here, nobody is going to come pick me up.

Trebon and his Kona teammate Barry Wicks earned the title "Twin Towers" on the USGP circuit.
Trebon and his Kona teammate Barry Wicks earned the title “Twin Towers” on the USGP circuit.

VN: Do you believe your time in this career was successful?
RT: Yeah, I got to race during a period where cyclocross was growing, there was a ton of industry support, and people were interested. Media like Sam Smith’s “Behind the Barriers” series gave us attention and gave fans insight into the personalities who were racing. I don’t think the guys now have that level of interest. I don’t know anything about some of the guys racing now. I hope the sport gets back to that level. You don’t want to have just one guy winning every weekend.

VN: How would you improve your working environment?
RT: We need a quality national cyclocross series where everybody races against each other. We need more live coverage or delayed coverage, so you can actually see the races. The promoters and federation need to promote the racers as well as the races. I love watching motorcycle racing, because it’s the riders who are the stars. If you build the racers up as people worth following — you get to know them as personalities  — you can get people to come watch. You can get excited about Jeremy Powers vs. whomever. Cycling needs stars and people to cheer for.

VN: Would you recommend this job to others?
RT: Yeah, absolutely. I have zero regrets. I’m definitely not leaving racing thinking that it was a waste of my time. I made a decent living at it, and most of my friends come from racing. It was gratifying and hard.

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Livestream: 2016 Rochester Cyclocross, day 1 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/09/news/livestream-2016-rochester-cyclocross_420307 Thu, 01 Sep 2016 18:00:44 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=420307 Watch the first USA Cycling Pro CX race of the season, live from Rochester, New York.

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Rochester Cyclocross | Saturday, September 10 | Rochester, New York | 2:00 p.m. EDT

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Cyclocross champ Van Aert takes road win at Schaal Sels http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/cyclocross/cyclocross-champ-van-aert-takes-road-win-schaal-sels_419165 Sun, 28 Aug 2016 19:45:31 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=419165 Cyclocross wunderkind Wout Van Aert takes a road victory at Schaal Sels

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Wout Van Aert, reigning cyclocross world champion, put his talents on display out on the road Sunday at Schaal Sels — insofar as the Belgian one-day event with a wonderfully creative parcours can be called a “road race.”

The 21-year-old, riding for the Crelan – Vastgoedservice continental squad, took the victory after powering clear of a small lead group on a stretch of dirt road in the final five kilometers. Perhaps it’s not so surprising after all that the star ‘cross rider might thrive on a parcours rife with gravel, dirt, and cobblestones.

It’s not the first time Van Aert has taken a road win this season. He nabbed a prologue victory in May at the Baloise Belgium Tour, and that was on paved roads throughout.

Having racked up two nice wins and a few other strong results in his road forays this season, Van Aert could be forgiven for considering diving deeper into road racing as his career progresses. Etixx – Quick-Step’s Zdenek Stybar and Astana’s Lars Boom are both recent examples that it can certainly be done — though cyclocross fans could be forgiven for preferring that the Belgian wunderkind stick to racing in the mud full-time.

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USA Cycling announces 2016-17 Pro CX calendar http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/usa-cycling-announces-2016-17-pro-cx-calendar_416983 Wed, 03 Aug 2016 19:23:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416983 The 2016-17 cyclocross season kicks off on September 10 at the Rochester Cyclo-Cross Weekend in Rochester, New York, as it did last year,

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The 2016-17 cyclocross season kicks off on September 10 at the Rochester Cyclo-Cross Weekend in Rochester, New York, as it did last year, but the points system used to tabulate the season-long Pro CX winner is changing.

USA Cycling is implementing a revised points schedule and tabulation method. The new system offers triple points for UCI Category 1 events and limits points to a rider’s top eight UCI Category 1 and 2 results. Cyclo-Cross National Calendar (CXNC) events also give riders the opportunity to earn points from up to three races designated as such. These revisions are based on concerns expressed by riders that the vast number of events included on the Pro CX calendar made travel difficult, if they wanted to contend for the overall title.

“The revised 2016-17 Pro CX is designed to identify the top ‘cross athletes and create a cohesive domestic calendar for fans and teams alike,” said USA Cycling CEO Derek Bouchard-Hall.  We look forward to shining a brighter light on the calendar and bringing cyclo-cross to the forefront of the American cycling scene this fall.”

The 2016-17 season will also see greater media coverage with the addition of a dedicated press officer who will cover all Category 1 and 2 events. This will provide event directors support in the form of outreach to local and non-endemic media.

USA Cycling Pro CX calendar

Sept. 10: Rochester Cyclocross, Rochester, New York, UCI 1
Sept. 11: Rochester Cyclocross, Rochester, New York, UCI 2
Sept. 17: Nittany Lion Cross, Breiningsville, Pennsylvania, UCI 2
Sept. 17: Trek CXC Cup, Waterloo, Wisconsin, UCI 2
Sept. 18: Nittany Lion Cross, Breiningsville, Pennsylvania, UCI 2
Sept. 18: Trek CXC Cup, Waterloo, Wisconsin, UCI 1
Sept. 21: Clif Bar CrossVegas UCI World Cup, Las Vegas, UCI WC (No Pro CX Points)
Sept. 23: Jingle Cross, Iowa City, Iowa, UCI 2
Sept. 24: Jingle Cross UCI World Cup, Iowa City, Iowa, UCI WC (No Pro CX Points)
Sept. 25: Jingle Cross, Iowa City, Iowa, UCI 1
Oct. 1: KMC Cyclo-cross Festival*, Providence, Rhode Island, UCI 1
Oct. 2: KMC Cyclo-cross Festival*, Providence, Rhode Island, UCI 2
Oct. 8: Charm City Cross, Baltimore, Maryland, UCI 2
Oct. 9: Charm City Cross, Baltimore, Maryland, UCI 1
Oct.15: CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester, Gloucester, Massachusetts, UCI 2
Oct. 15: US Open of Cyclocross*, Boulder, Colorado, UCI 2
Oct. 16: CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester, Gloucester, Massachusetts, UCI 2
Oct. 16: US Open of Cyclocross^, Boulder, Colorado, UCI 2
Oct. 22: The North Coast Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Cleveland, Ohio, UCI 2
Oct. 22: DCCX, Washington, DC, UCI 2
Oct. 23: The North Coast Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Cleveland, Ohio, UCI 2
Oct. 23: DCCX, Washington, DC, UCI 2
Oct. 29: Pan Am Continental Cyclo-cross Championships*^, Covington, Kentucky, UCI CC (No Pro CX Points)
Oct. 29: HPCX, Jamesburg, New Jersey, UCI 2
Oct. 30: Cincinnati – KingsCX*, Mason, Ohio, UCI 1
Oct. 30: HPCX, Jamesburg, New Jersey, UCI 2
Nov. 5: Derby City Cup*, Louisville, Kentucky, UCI 1
Nov. 6: Derby City Cup*, Louisville, Kentucky, UCI 2
Nov. 12: Cyntergy Hurtland, a Tulsa Tough Production, Tulsa, Oklahoma, UCI 2
Nov. 12: Cycle-Smart Northampton International, Northampton, Massachusetts, UCI 2
Nov. 13: Cycle-Smart Northampton International, Northampton, Massachusetts, UCI 2
Nov. 19: Supercross Cup, Stony Point, New York, UCI 2
Nov. 19: CXLA Weekend: Los Angeles*^, Los Angeles, CA, UCI 2
Nov. 20: Supercross Cup, Stony Point, New York, UCI 2
Nov. 20: CXLA Weekend: Los Angeles*^, Los Angeles, CA, UCI 2
Dec. 3: Ruts N’ Guts, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, UCI 1
Dec. 3: NBX Gran Prix of Cross, Warwick, Rhode Island, UCI 2
Dec. 3: Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup*, Indianapolis, Indiana, UCI 2
Dec. 4: Ruts N’ Guts, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, UCI 2
Dec. 4: NBX Gran Prix of Cross, Warwick, Rhode Island, UCI 2
Dec. 4: Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup*, Indianapolis, Indiana, UCI 2
Dec. 10: North Carolina Grand Prix, Hendersonville, North Carolina, UCI 2
Dec. 10: Resolution ‘Cross Cup, Dallas (Garland), Texas, UCI 2
Dec. 11: North Carolina Grand Prix, Hendersonville, North Carolina, UCI 2
Dec. 11: Resolution ‘Cross Cup, Dallas (Garland), Texas, UCI 2
Dec. 17: Highlander ‘Cross Cup, Waco, Texas, UCI 2
Dec. 18: Highlander ‘Cross Cup, Waco, Texas, UCI 2

*Designates events that have UCI races for junior men.
^Designates events that have UCI races for U23 men.

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Change afoot for Amy D. Foundation ‘cross team http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/08/news/change-afoot-for-amy-d-foundation-cross-team_416853 Tue, 02 Aug 2016 20:18:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=416853 The Amy D. Racing cyclocross team will continue to provide support for Rebecca Fahringer for the upcoming cyclocross season with the help

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The Amy D. Racing cyclocross team and Stan’s NoTubes Cyclocross team have joined forces to provide continued support for rising star Rebecca Fahringer in the 2016-2017 cyclocross season.

The Amy D. Racing team previously partnered with the Raleigh – Clement team to provide travel, equipment, mechanical and mentoring support throughout the domestic UCI season to one up-and-coming female racer. The team provides the rider with everything they need for elite racing. The Raleigh squad is refocusing on World Cup races this season, so both parties agreed that a continued partnership was no longer practical.

Dan Dombroski, founder and president of the Amy D. Foundation said “strong ties with the Raleigh – Clement team remain.” Donn Kellogg, manager of the Raleigh squad echoed Dombroski’s sentiments: “As a team and as individuals, we stand ready at each race to lend a helping hand to the ongoing Amy D. Racing program.”

“We are excited and honored to be working with the Amy D. Foundation,” Stan’s NoTubes manager Jake Wells said. “The developmental element has been a long-time goal for [our] program, and this is a big stride toward fulfilling that vision.”

Previously, the Amy D. Racing program has been a single-season commitment, but this season, the team is supporting Fahringer for a second year. Fahringer is still a developing talent within the sport. “Her trajectory is tremendous,” Dombroski said, “and we feel that there is further development potential that we can help facilitate. A significant consideration is the unfortunate lack of opportunities within the sport at the professional level. Lots of very talented athletes are scraping to put a season together. There’s a lot to be said for the stability of multi-year support in the development process.”

“Last season I learned so much and made a lot of really important breakthroughs,” Fahringer said. “I worked hard in the off-season and am really excited to keep momentum going into this season. I made friends with the NoTubes CX riders throughout last season, so the support transition will be easy for me. I am really looking forward to not only furthering my career, but helping the Amy D. Foundation develop another strong relationship with a great team in Stan’s NoTubes.”

In addition to Stan’s NoTubes, the Amy D. Foundation program will receive support from the Stan’s team’s sponsors: Scott Bikes, Shimano, IRC Tires, Pearl Izumi, KASK helmets and eyewear, and Action Wipes. They will also continue to receive support from Lazer Helmets and BikeFlights.com

Started in 2013, after the death of world-class cyclocross racer Amy Dombroski, the Amy D. Foundation “aims to build participation, opportunity, and equality for female cyclists, promoting healthy personal development that transcends the sport.” Any donations made to the Amy D. Foundation are tax deductible. For more information about the foundation, or to make a donation to the cause, go to amydfoundation.org.

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CX or gravel? New SuperX aims for versatility http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/06/bikes-and-tech/cannondale-bolsters-superx-cross-bike-preps-for-gravel_410950 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 14:00:41 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=410950 The company reimagines its cyclocross offering with different axles, wheels, and geometry to tackle gravel and technical courses.

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Last year I reviewed Cannondale’s SuperX Hi-Mod CX1 cyclocross bike and gave it good marks but bemoaned its lack of thru-axles and Stan’s Grail Team wheels that we found to be on the flexy side. It seems Cannondale was listening: The 2017 SuperX features a 142×12 rear thru-axle and front Maxle, and the Team-level SuperX comes stock with Zipp 303 tubulars, a significant upgrade over the Stan’s wheels that came on the bike last season. This is a very different ’cross steed than what we’ve seen in the past, though the core of the machine still capitalizes on all of Cannondale’s best tech.

Component choices aside, Cannondale took a new tack with the SuperX to respond to the burgeoning gravel segment, though reps from the Connecticut-based company are quick to note that the SuperX is a cyclocross bike first and foremost. In fact, Stephen Hyde tested the new SuperX late last cyclocross season in Belgium.

As CX courses become more technical, the need for more steering stability becomes a higher priority; the SuperX accommodates such courses with a 55mm fork offset, 63mm trail, 71.5-degree head tube angle, and a 68mm bottom bracket drop that makes for stable steering at high speeds.

All those figures make the SuperX sound like anything but a quick steerer, but Cannondale’s global senior product manager David Devine says other geometry tweaks keep the SuperX quick and aggressive. The company is calling it Out-Front Geometry, which gets the rider in better position to attack technical sections with quick steering and agility. The chainstays clock in at 422mm on all frame sizes, 8mm shorter than previous model years and among the shortest on the market for cyclocross bikes. That allowed Cannondale to extend the front-center measurement on a size 56 centimeter to 621 millimeters without extending the wheelbase, which is decently short at at 1,034 millimeters.

The combination should lead to some agile handling at high speeds and quick steering in tight, tape-to-tape turns. In other words, Cannondale is promising everything a CX racer wants and needs.

Frame construction got an overhaul too. The main triangle — head tube, top tube, seat tube, and down tube — is all one piece, while the left and right chainstays are constructed as one piece respectively. That means the 1,000-gram frame is made from three total pieces. That should translate into high lateral stiffness numbers for efficient power transfer and handling.

Like previous SuperX models as well as SuperSix Evo bikes, the new SuperX features Cannondale’s Speed Save frame design, which essentially translates into shaped tubing that helps maintain lateral rigidity while allowing some vertical flex for your comfort. The SuperX has some of the most dramatic examples of shaped tubing that Cannondale has incorporated into a bike, with flattened chainstays and seatstays and a thinned seat tube below where the seatpost bottoms out.

The nod to gravel comes in the form of wide tire clearance, and to get that, Cannondale offset the drivetrain by 6 millimeters outboard. The rear wheel needs to be re-dished to work properly with the drivetrain offset, with the ultimate goal of chainline maintenance. The payoff: The SuperSix can fit tires up to 40 millimeters with 5 millimeters of clearance to spare.

Other nice touches include flat mount front and rear disc brakes, a SRAM X-sync licensed chainring on the Cannondale Si crank, and a 25.4mm Save seatpost with a hidden clamp bolt.

Cannondale will also offer an aluminum version, the CAADX, with similar geometry, though it will only take a 35mm tire. Various build kits will be available for both the SuperX and CAADX; pricing is yet to be determined.

We’ve only got a ride or two on the SuperX so far, so it’s too early to say if Cannondale delivers on its big promises. Keep an eye out for our long-term review soon.

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Van der Haar to join Nys on Telenet team http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/05/news/van-der-haar-leaving-giant-alpecin_405420 Thu, 12 May 2016 15:05:31 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=405420 Lars van der Haar will join forces with Sven Nys on the Telenet – Fidea team for 2017, likely spelling the end of his WorldTour road

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Lars van der Haar, winner of the 2013-14 cyclocross World Cup and silver medalist at ‘cross worlds in January, will leave Giant – Alpecin at the end of 2016 to join the Telenet – Fidea team, which is now run by recently retired cyclocross legend Sven Nys.

His current team issued an announcement Thursday, and Wieler Flits reported that the move would happen at the turn of the year.

This move could spell the end of van der Haar’s pro road career. The 24-year-old Dutchman had 32 race days in 2015 with Giant – Alpecin on the road, including one WorldTour race, Clasica San Sebastian. He started Paris-Roubaix this season but was forced to abandon. Telenet-Fidea is a Continental team, so it could race some road events, but it doesn’t get the same invitations that a WorldTour team like Giant – Alpecin does.

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