VeloNews.com » Cyclocross http://velonews.competitor.com Competitive Cycling News, Race Results and Bike Reviews Wed, 10 Feb 2016 02:43:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.3.1 Photo Essay: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/cyclocross/394428_394428 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/cyclocross/394428_394428#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 17:13:17 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394428

The grand finale of the cyclocross season, world championships, in Zolder, Belgium, had controversy, drama, and plenty of muddy action.

The post Photo Essay: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

The post Photo Essay: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/cyclocross/394428_394428/feed 0
Analysis: UCI stuck to its guns in search for hidden motors http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/analysis-uci-stuck-to-its-guns-in-search-for-hidden-motors_394355 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/analysis-uci-stuck-to-its-guns-in-search-for-hidden-motors_394355#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 13:39:24 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394355

Belgian Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a hidden motor in her bike at the cyclocross worlds. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

UCI president Brian Cookson confirms the governing body discovered a hidden motor in a rider's bike at the cyclocross worlds.

The post Analysis: UCI stuck to its guns in search for hidden motors appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Belgian Femke Van den Driessche was caught with a hidden motor in her bike at the cyclocross worlds. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

The UCI can take grim satisfaction after cycling’s first case of “mechanized doping” was confirmed over the weekend at the cyclocross world championships.

Many laughed when the UCI started showing up at races a few years ago with bulky X-ray machines to take a glimpse inside bike frames. Those fears carried over into last year’s Tour de France, with accusations leveled at Sky’s Chris Froome. The abuse of so-called motor-assisted bikes seemed too far-fetched even for a sport where cheating was part of its DNA. The technology seemed too bulky, too heavy, too unreliable, and even too noisy to be realistically applied to a sport in which every gram of weight counts.

Yet the UCI, possibly using a new detection method in Zolder, found what they say is the first documented case of illegal mechanical assistance in a major bike race. Details are still to be filled out, but officials confirmed a milestone in a sport rife with doping and cheating: a bike fitted with a banned motor.

“We have heard stories for a long time, and we have been testing at a number of events,” UCI president Brian Cookson said at a press conference over the weekend in Zolder. “We will be testing more frequently. Our message to cheaters is that we will catch up to you, sooner or later.”

Officials claim they discovered clear proof of a motor-assisted bike found in the pen of Belgian under-23 rider Femke Van den Driessche. She tearfully denied that the bike was hers, claiming someone in her entourage incorrectly placed it in her pen. How the bike showed up there, and whether it was fitted with stickers and pedals that could prove otherwise, will be revealed as part of the UCI investigation. The exact type of motor has not yet been revealed, but Cookson was emphatic that the evidence was clear.

“It was a concealed motor,” Cookson said. “No secrets about that.”

The news shook cycling to its core, and comes just as the sport was making advances on cleaning up its image as a dirty sport in the wake of decades of doping scandals. The mainstream media jumped on the story, with The Wall Street Journal dubbing it “the goofiest scandal ever.”

The first major hint of “mechanized doping” emerged in 2010 in the wake of Fabian Cancellara’s impressive attack at the Kapelmuur at the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), and later at Paris-Roubaix. The Swiss superstar angrily denied the rumors, but the idea gained traction when former racer Davide Cassani revealed the possibility in a report broadcast on Italy’s RAI-TV in what appeared to be a fully functioning motor that could be slotted into a frame’s seat tube. A subsequent video showing how the system might work went viral on YouTube.

Later that summer, the UCI scanned bikes for the first time at the 2010 Tour de France, and thus began what was the most divisive question in cycling: did mechanized cheating exist, and were the elite pros using it?

How the motor might work was wasn’t up to debate — technology already existed in 2010 for e-bikes, and has only improved over the past half-decade — but the big question was were motors being systematically used in the elite road racing scene? The question seemed to cut to the very essence of bicycle racing: a contest between athletes on a human-powered machine.

Riders and teams rolled their eyes at the notion, saying it was something from “science fiction,” insisting the motors, even if they could add additional watts in key moments of a race, were too heavy and cumbersome to be effective in racing. Batteries were considered too bulky to be properly hidden, and battery life was too short to be reliable in a six-hour road race.

There were suggestions that battery packs could be hidden inside water bottles, and that the motors would only be needed for a few decisive moments of a race. Mysterious mid-race bike swaps only fed conspiracy theories, and fears grew that motors had slowly worked their way into the peloton.

There are even rumors of motors being hidden inside carbon-fiber wheels. A video that went viral of Ryder Hesjedal’s spinning rear wheel from a crash during the 2014 Vuelta a España fanned the worst fears. When his bikes were checked during last year’s Giro, Hesjedal said, “it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of.”

Early efforts by the UCI to check for motors were sometimes clumsy and never struck gold. Mechanics were forced to disassemble bikes just before the start of races — like this video showing Tinkoff-Saxo’s mechanic taking off the cranks of Alberto Contador’s bike at the 2015 Giro d’Italia. In other cases, the UCI always came up empty when inspectors used a large, airport-style X-ray machine to check bikes.

The UCI remain determined, however. The arrival of Cookson as the new UCI president in 2013 saw renewed efforts to try to prove the myth of mechanized cheating and snip it at the bud. The UCI’s CIRC report, released last March, also confirmed underlying worries that the problem was real, with the report highlighting, “this particular issue was taken seriously, especially by top riders, and was not dismissed as being isolated.”

The UCI deserves kudos for pressing the issue, and if this weekend’s events prove to be true, what could be cycling’s most embarrassing chapter could have a very brief life. A hefty fine and lengthy ban are deterrents, but without full enforcement of the rules, the cheaters look for openings. Cookson has been consistent in his message that the UCI will be unrelenting in its hunt for cheaters, even if it’s bad for business.

The post Analysis: UCI stuck to its guns in search for hidden motors appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/02/news/analysis-uci-stuck-to-its-guns-in-search-for-hidden-motors_394355/feed 0
Powers’ disappointed with Worlds result http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/powers-disappointments-continue-at-worlds_394305 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/powers-disappointments-continue-at-worlds_394305#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 22:21:02 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394305

US National Champion Jeremy Powers didn't have his best race in Zolder. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

Jeremy Powers was not pleased with his result in Zolder

The post Powers’ disappointed with Worlds result appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

US National Champion Jeremy Powers didn't have his best race in Zolder. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Jeremy Powers came in to the world championships with high expectations after a successful season capped off by his third-straight U.S. national cyclocross championship. Powers enjoyed a front-row starting position on Sunday, and the course at Zolder seemed fit for Powers’ strengths.

Powers’ result — he finished 34th, 11:21 down — did not match his expectations. Powers ran into trouble immediately, and although he bounced back, he was never able to regain the front of the race.

“I slipped my pedal at the start, and I was immediately first to third row. That was not ideal by any stretch,” he told VeloNews after the race. “Then I settled in, but it just turned out not to be my best day. I don’t know. I’m not pumped about it, I definitely wanted more from myself.”

The trouble didn’t stop there. Later in the first lap, Powers tangled with his American teammate Travis Livermon, losing even more time.

“That was unfortunately Travis Livermon, who I apologized to during that moment,” said Powers. “I was just going wide and coming across and I ended up T-boning into him. That didn’t make it any better for any of us. It was just a bunch of us running into each other for that first lap.”

Powers bounced from group to group during the middle of the race, and at one point was riding in no-man’s land. But he struggled to  make up time on the leaders, and eventually settled into the mid-30’s.

The sandy course in Zolder usually drains well, but the torrential rain that fell on Saturday left the course a muddy mess on Sunday. Powers said that the unusually sloppy conditions didn’t help his bid to gain places.

“It was definitely hard,” he said. “The course was changing, but the ruts were super deep for our race. A lot of these steep bits hurt me, even more than at the World Cup last time, just that extra climb. Doing that eight times was hard on me. My back, specifically, was killing me today.”

By all accounts, Powers has had an impressive season, including a sixth place at the World Cup race at CrossVegas — one of the best ever in the elite men’s race by an American — and a fourth national title a few weeks ago.

But he told VeloNews on Sunday that he struggled to maintain his form and focus late in the season. Powers’s results on the World Cup circuit reflect his comments. Powers was 31st at last weekend’s World Cup in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, and 23rd at the previous weekend’s World Cup in France. He finished the season ranked 26th in the series.

“When I think back to Rochester, or even before that, it’s just a long time ago,” he said. “It always is. I wouldn’t say things are bad. It’s just not a great result for me, period.”

Powers will finish his season with a race in Japan, but said after the championship race that he was ready for a break.

“I can tell when it’s time, and it’s definitely time,” he said. “It’s February.”

The post Powers’ disappointed with Worlds result appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/powers-disappointments-continue-at-worlds_394305/feed 0
Worlds fans pelt van der Haar with beer, spit http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/worlds-fans-pelt-van-der-haar-with-beer-spit_394292 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/worlds-fans-pelt-van-der-haar-with-beer-spit_394292#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 17:23:09 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394292

Beer, boos and spit couldn't slow down Lars van der Haar in Zolder. But the rider did not appreciate the abuse. Photo credit: Tim de Waele/TDWsport.com

Bad fans at Sunday's cross worlds spat, threw beer at van der Haar

The post Worlds fans pelt van der Haar with beer, spit appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Beer, boos and spit couldn't slow down Lars van der Haar in Zolder. But the rider did not appreciate the abuse. Photo credit: Tim de Waele/TDWsport.com

Some fans at Sunday’s UCI world championships took to throwing beer and even spitting on riders during the elite men’s race. After finishing second to Belgian Wout van Aert, Dutch rider Lars van der Haar said he weathered the abuse during his effort.

“There were some points in the course where [fans] were spitting on me, and I got a lot of beer on me,” van der Haar said. “At that moment you’re so focused on the race and you’re doing your own thing, that you’re not really paying attention to that.”

Video from the race confirmed that van Aert was splashed by beer in at least one corner of the Zolder course.

Heckling is endemic to cyclocross, but fans occasionally take things too far. In 2012 Belgian great Sven Nys abandoned his bicycle during a bp Post Bank Trophy race and chased a fan who had pelted him with a cup of beer. In 2006 Belgian rider Bart Wellens kicked a heckling spectator during a round of the World Cup. The 2014 Cross Vegas event was also marred by beer spraying.

Van der Haar gapped the field midway through the eight-lap race, and rode with a 20-second gap over his chasers. That’s when fans at the Zolder race track began booing the young Dutchman and pelting him with liquids.

Van Aert eventually caught van der Haar, setting up a dramatic finish.

At the post-race press conference, van der Haar said some fans were, “not so respectful,” while the majority of fans cheered him on. The abuse, he said, did not impact the overall outcome of the race.

“No, some guy next to me influenced that result,” van der Haar said, pointing at van Aert.

After the race, some riders and fans took to Twitter to discuss the abuse.

The post Worlds fans pelt van der Haar with beer, spit appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/worlds-fans-pelt-van-der-haar-with-beer-spit_394292/feed 0
Results: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships, under-23 men, elite men http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/results-2016-cyclocross-world-championships-u23-men-elite-men_394282 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/results-2016-cyclocross-world-championships-u23-men-elite-men_394282#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 16:08:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394282 Wout Van Aert wins the elite men's race at cyclocross world championships in Zolder, Belgium.

The post Results: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships, under-23 men, elite men appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

  • 1. Wout VAN AERT, (BEL), 1:05:52
  • 2. Lars VAN DER HAAR, (NED), 1:05:57
  • 3. Kevin PAUWELS, (BEL), 1:06:27
  • 4. Sven NYS, (BEL), 1:06:31
  • 5. Mathieu VAN DER POEL, (NED), 1:06:39
  • 6. David VAN DER POEL, (NED), 1:06:55
  • 7. Laurens SWEECK, (BEL), 1:07:03
  • 8. Tom MEEUSEN, (BEL), 1:07:15
  • 9. Radomir SIMUNEK, (CZE), 1:07:29
  • 10. Marcel MEISEN, (GER), 1:07:35
  • 11. Clément VENTURINI, (FRA), 1:07:53
  • 12. Michael VANTHOURENHOUT, (BEL), 1:08:07
  • 13. Stan GODRIE, (NED), 1:08:20
  • 14. Lars BOOM, (NED), 1:08:29
  • 15. Francis MOUREY, (FRA), 1:08:35
  • 16. Michael BOROS, (CZE), 1:08:38
  • 17. Thijs VAN AMERONGEN, (NED), 1:08:38
  • 18. Corne VAN KESSEL, (NED), 1:08:42
  • 19. Philipp WALSLEBEN, (GER), 1:08:52
  • 20. Steve CHAINEL, (FRA), 1:09:00
  • 21. Sascha WEBER, (GER), 1:09:07
  • 22. Julien TARAMARCAZ, (SUI), 1:09:13
  • 23. Stephen HYDE, (USA), 1:09:23
  • 24. Simon ZAHNER, (SUI), 1:09:23
  • 25. Niels WUBBEN, (NED), 1:09:32
  • 26. Tim MERLIER, (BEL), 1:09:35
  • 27. Javier RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ, (ESP), 1:09:48
  • 28. Ian FIELD, (GBR), 1:09:56
  • 29. Martin HARING, (SVK), 1:10:18
  • 30. Lukas WINTERBERG, (SUI), 1:10:21
  • 31. Lars FORSTER, (SUI), 1:10:38
  • 32. Ismael ESTEBAN AGUANDO, (ESP), 1:11:02
  • 33. Severin SAEGESSER, (SUI), 1:11:20
  • 34. Jeremy POWERS, (USA), 1:11:21
  • 35. Yannick ECKMANN, (USA), 1:12:37
  • 36. Chris JONGEWAARD, (AUS), 1:12:52
  • 37. Liam KILLEEN, (GBR), 1:12:56
  • 38. Garry MILLBURN, (AUS), 1:13:05
  • 39. Travis LIVERMON, (USA), 1:13:06
  • 40. Aaron SCHOOLER, (CAN), 1:13:06
  • 41. Allen KRUGHOFF, (USA), 1:13:31
  • 42. Jeremy MARTIN, (CAN)
  • 43. Anthony CLARK, (USA)
  • 44. Christian HELMIG, (LUX)
  • 45. Michael VAN DEN HAM, (CAN)
  • 46. Gusty BAUSCH, (LUX)
  • 47. Kenneth HANSEN, (DEN)
  • 48. Mariusz GIL, (POL)
  • 49. David FLETCHER, (GBR)
  • 50. Angus EDMOND, (NZL)
  • 51. Cameron JETTE, (CAN)
  • 52. Martin ERIKSSON, (SWE)
  • 53. Fredrik HARALDSETH, (NOR)
  • 54. Hikaru KOSAKA, (JPN)
  • 55. Yu TAKENOUCHI, (JPN)
  • 56. Jeremy DURRIN, (USA)
  • 57. Mark MCCONNELL, (CAN)
  • 58. Karl Heinz GOLLINGER, (AUT)
  • 59. Philipp HEIGL, (AUT)

The post Results: 2016 UCI cyclocross world championships, under-23 men, elite men appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/results-2016-cyclocross-world-championships-u23-men-elite-men_394282/feed 0
Van Aert outlasts Van der Haar in Zolder http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-outlasts-van-der-haar-in-zolder_394277 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-outlasts-van-der-haar-in-zolder_394277#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 15:55:17 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394277

After passing Lars van der Haar, Wout van Aert took the elite world title in Zolder. photo credit: Tim De Waele/TDWsport.com

Belgium's Wout Van Aert prevails in muddy battle with Mathieu van der Poel and Lars van der Haar of the Netherlands.

The post Van Aert outlasts Van der Haar in Zolder appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

After passing Lars van der Haar, Wout van Aert took the elite world title in Zolder. photo credit: Tim De Waele/TDWsport.com

After a daylong battle between Belgium and the Netherlands’ top cyclocross riders, Belgian Wout van Aert won Sunday’s elite cyclocross world championships in dramatic fashion after reeling in Dutchman Lars van der Haar on the penultimate lap.

Van Aert, 21,  took the biggest win of his career just one week after wrapping up the UCI World Cup overall, and two years after winning the U-23 world championships.

“It was a crazy day and I worked hard for this championship the last few weeks,” van Aert said after the race. “To be honest, all season.”

Van Aert’s victory will undoubtedly go down as a cyclocross legend, considering the catastrophe he overcame at the event’s midpoint. Van Aert was riding just behind pre-race favorite Mathieu van der Poel, when a tight, left-hand turn forced the Dutchman to dismount. Van de Poel stepped directly into van Aert’s front wheel, and his foot became entangled in the spokes.

The mishap allowed van der Haar to open up a sizable gap on the field, and forced van Aert and van der Poel to waste valuable time untangling the mess, as other riders sped ahead.

After he freed himself, van Aert gave chase. After two laps, he eventually reeled in van der Haar, setting up the two-man finish.

“It was stupid for both of us, but afterward I kept my head cool, and I was really quickly into a good rhythm,” van Aert said. “To be honest, I have to thank [van der Poel] because afterwards I came into my really good rhythm and I just went full gas after this incident. And maybe it was something I needed to become world champion.”

In the laps before the incident, the race quickly evolved into a slugfest between cyclocross’ two dominant nations. Van der Poel, van Aert and van der Haar quickly separated themselves from the pack, with Belgians Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels riding on their heels. Van Aert eventually slowed the pace to allow his Belgian countrymen to catch back on.

After van Aert’s incident, the race appeared to be in the hands of van der Haar, who maintained a 20-second gap for much of the race’s second half.

“The other guys couldn’t hold my wheel at that moment, so I think that my attack was on the perfect moment,” van der Haar said.

But van Aert refused to roll over, and gradually reeled in the Dutchman, making contact on the penultimate lap. On the final lap, the two took turns surging into the course’s various sections. Van der Haar appeared to grab the advantage on a sketchy, slick descent, only to have van Aert close the gap on the ensuing uphill.

Van Aert’s winning effort came on the final uphill run. Van der Haar attempted to ride the incline, but stopped midway to dismount his bicycle. After the race, he admitted he was in the wrong gear for the climb.

“I made one mistake, and that was the chain wasn’t on the small ring but on the big ring,” Van der Haar said. “And yeah, that’s a bit sour going home.”

Van Aert had enough time to raise his arms for the win. Behind him, countryman Pauwels took third, with Nys finishing fourth in his final elite race before retirement. Van der Poel sat up at the finish, rolling across in fifth.

Van Aert entered the race as a second-tier favorite behind van der Poel, who won the final four rounds of the UCI World Cup. The Belgian said he did not let the pre-race hype get to his head.

“I think all nations were expecting a one-man show of Mathieu van der Poel,” van Aert said. “I was really relaxed. I believed in my chance.”

The post Van Aert outlasts Van der Haar in Zolder appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-outlasts-van-der-haar-in-zolder_394277/feed 0
Cookson confirms ‘technological fraud’ at cyclocross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/first-technological-fraud-case-rocks-cycling-world_394276 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/first-technological-fraud-case-rocks-cycling-world_394276#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 15:49:07 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394276

Belgian Femke Van den Driessche is the first rider to be caught with a hidden motor in a UCI race. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com (File).

UCI's Brian Cookson confirms that cheating was uncovered at 'cross worlds: "It's absolutely clear that there was technological fraud."

The post Cookson confirms ‘technological fraud’ at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Belgian Femke Van den Driessche is the first rider to be caught with a hidden motor in a UCI race. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com (File).

HEUSDEN-ZOLDER, Belgium (AFP) — UCI president Brian Cookson confirmed on Sunday that a Belgian cyclist had been caught cheating at cyclocross world championships, using a concealed motor on a bike being. Femke Van den Driessche, an athlete in the under-23 category is the first rider to be snared by the UCI’s bike checks in a top-level competition.

“It’s absolutely clear that there was technological fraud. There was a concealed motor. I don’t think there are any secrets about that,” UCI president Brian Cookson told a news conference.

The bike was seized on Saturday after Van den Driessche, one of the race favorites, was forced to withdraw from the women’s under-23 race because of a mechanical problem. The 19-year-old denied that she had used a bike with a concealed motor on purpose, saying that it was identical to her own but belonged to a friend and that a team mechanic had given it to her by mistake before the race.

“It wasn’t my bike, it was that of a friend and was identical to mine,” a tearful Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel Sporza. “This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race,” she added, insisting that she was “totally unaware” it was fitted with a hidden motor.

“I feel really terrible. I’m aware I have a big problem. [But] I have no fears of an inquiry into this. I have done nothing wrong,” she said.

If found guilty of cheating the rider faces disqualification, a six-month suspension and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs (180,000 euros, $195,000).

“We’ve heard some stories for a long time now about the possibility of this. We have been alive to a potential way that people might cheat and we have been testing a number of bikes and a number of events for several months,” Cookson said.

“I am committed and the UCI is committed to protecting the riders who do not want to cheat in whatever form and to make sure that the right riders win the race.

“We have been looking at different methods of testing this kind of technology and we tested a number of bikes yesterday and one was found.

“We will keep testing both at this event and subsequent events. Whether this means that there is widespread use of this form of cheating remains to be seen.

Cookson said that the matter would next go before the UCI’s disciplinary commission.

Etixx team manager Patrick Lefevere called for a “lifetime suspension for the cheat,” while Belgian national team coach Rudy De Bie was outraged by the discovery. “I never thought that such schemes were possible. It’s a scandal that Femke’s entourage have deceived the Belgian federation,” he said.

However, it isn’t the first time eyebrows have been raised over suspicions of “mechanical doping” — the term used for bikes found to have a hidden motor inside the wheels or frame that serves as an illegal aid to the rider.

Last year’s Tour de France champion Chris Froome faced accusations of using a motorized bicycle, while Fabian Cancellara’s 2010 victory in the Tour of Flanders also stirred a debate. He denied the accusations before, a week later, racing off into the distance to win Paris-Roubaix even more impressively.

 

The post Cookson confirms ‘technological fraud’ at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/first-technological-fraud-case-rocks-cycling-world_394276/feed 0
Iserbyt wins U23 worlds after Toupalik celebrates early http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/iserbyt-wins-u23-worlds-after-toupalik-celebrates-early_394270 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/iserbyt-wins-u23-worlds-after-toupalik-celebrates-early_394270#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 15:08:18 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394270

Belgium's Eli Iserbyt takes the sprint ahead of Adam Toupalik in the U23 worlds race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Iserbyt wins U23 worlds after Toupalik celebrates early

The post Iserbyt wins U23 worlds after Toupalik celebrates early appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Belgium's Eli Iserbyt takes the sprint ahead of Adam Toupalik in the U23 worlds race. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Belgian rider Eli Iserbyt won Sunday’s Under-23 Men’s World Cyclocross Championship in a two-up sprint with Czech rider Adam Toupalik. Iserbyt, who was runner-up at last year’s junior world championship, also won the U23 World Cup overall this year.

The day’s drama, however, came on the penultimate lap, when then-leader Toupalik raised his hands in victory after crossing the finish line, thinking he’d won the race. Toupalik soon realized he had another lap to go, but the hesitation allowed Iserbyt and Belgian rider Quinten Hermans to catch up.

After the race, Iserbyt said he felt Toupalik lost focus and momentum after the blunder.

“I knew his focus wasn’t in the last lap because he thought it had been the finish,” Iserbyt said. “It was an advantage for me.”

Toupalik said the confusion occurred after he heard fans shouting “last lap” as he navigated the muddy course in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The Czech rider said the shouts convinced him he was on his way to victory.

“Somebody was shouting, ‘last lap last lap,’ so I kept pushing, pushing and was not focused on the [lap] numbers,” Toupalik said. “And then I said ‘Oh, there is something wrong,’ but I didn’t have enough energy in the last lap as the lap before.”

Toupalik attacked on the final lap but was unable to shed the two Belgian riders. Hermans finished third, with Belgian rider Thijs Aerts in fourth.

Americans Logan Owen and Curtis White struggled in the muddy conditions, which slowed the race down and required riders to muscle through many sections Owen, the two-time defending U-23 national champion, spent the day chasing the leaders and eventually finished 13th.

Owen said his race hinged on a short, steep climb on the race’s backside, which required a huge power output to navigate.

“I wasn’t strong enough to ride it, and that’s where I lost the race today,” Owen said. “I was able to do everything else as fast as the front group, but [the hill] is what made me not able to keep up.”

White rocketed to the front of the race from the gun, but was distanced after the first lap, and spent much of the day chasing. He finished 18th. “It’s a solid result,” White said. “I was hoping for more.”

After the race, winner Iserbyt said he plans to remain in the U-23 ranks next year, instead of stepping into the elite field. “I will maybe do one or two [elite races],” he said. “I’m not ready for the elite races yet.”

The post Iserbyt wins U23 worlds after Toupalik celebrates early appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/iserbyt-wins-u23-worlds-after-toupalik-celebrates-early_394270/feed 0
Antonneau makes strides in muddy Zolder http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/antonneau-makes-strides-in-muddy-zolder_394266 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/antonneau-makes-strides-in-muddy-zolder_394266#comments Sun, 31 Jan 2016 01:40:09 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394266

Kaitie Antonneau had one of the best results of her career, finishing eighth in the women's race on Saturday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

"I’m just so happy. I couldn’t ask for better,” says Antonneau, who was the top American finisher at cyclocross worlds in Zolder,

The post Antonneau makes strides in muddy Zolder appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Kaitie Antonneau had one of the best results of her career, finishing eighth in the women's race on Saturday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Saturday was a bleak day for cyclocross, and not just because of the monumentally bad weather that battered riders and fans on the former Formula One track in Zolder, Belgium. On a day of gloomy weather, gloomy crowds, and even gloomier news, American Kaitie Antonneau’s eighth-place finish was a ray of sunshine piercing the darkness.

“I’m super, super happy,” Antonneau told VeloNews after the race. “I’m proud to finish off the season on a good note. I finally got my top-10 world championship in Europe, and that’s my best place. So I’m super happy. I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Antonneau’s ride in Zolder capped a fantastic season, one during which she took the biggest strides yet in her still young career. In October, the 24 year-old earned her first World Cup podium place, finishing second behind Italian Eva Lechner, at the second race of the series in Valkenburg, Netherlands. She followed that up with a top-10 finish in Namur, Belgium, in December and a fifth-place finish in the penultimate World Cup in Lignières-en-Berry, France.

On Saturday, Antonneau battled again with Lechner and with Luxembourg champion Christine Marjerus, but she also battled a stupendously sloppy course and some of the worst weather the sport has seen during an unusually temperate season.

“Oh man, it was totally night and day from any time I’ve ever done this course,” she said. “It was still fast, but it was just muddy and it just changed the way that — you know, by the last lap my arms were tired, because when this course is dry there are parts where you can rest. But it’s technical this time, so it just made it hard the whole time. It was exhausting.”

In 2011, when Antonneau was still a protege of perennial U.S. national champion Katie Compton, Compton predicted Antonneau’s ride.

“She’s such a hard worker and a talented rider; just a really nice girl,” said Compton then. “She’s learning fast, and she’s got so much potential. She’s going to develop as a bike racer on the road, on track, on the mountain bike, and in ‘cross. I just want to see her develop as a bike racer, and 10 years from now, be an Olympian.”

But increasingly, Antonneau has been the ‘Kaitie’ to beat in American cyclocross. On Saturday she finished nearly a minute ahead of her similarly-named mentor, an achievement by any measure, much less at a foul weather world championships. The two still share a close relationship, and Compton was quick with a huge and congratulations on the finish line.

For Antonneau, though, the biggest prize remains the progress she is making. At only 24 she still has plenty of room to grow. And, if this season is any measure, she’s headed to great places.

“The French World Cup where I was fifth … If only that had happened I would have walked away super happy,” she said of her most successful season yet. “But to be on the podium at the World Cup, to have two top-fives and the finish here, I’ve grown so much this season. I’m just so happy. I couldn’t ask for better.”

The post Antonneau makes strides in muddy Zolder appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/antonneau-makes-strides-in-muddy-zolder_394266/feed 0
Sven Nys prepares for a final championship race http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/sven-nys-prepares-for-a-final-championship-race_394241 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/sven-nys-prepares-for-a-final-championship-race_394241#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 18:58:22 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394241

Sven Nys, cyclocross's most successful rider ever, will make his last world championship start on Sunday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

Two-time world champion Sven Nys talks about what to expect in his final outing at UCI cyclocross championships in Zolder, Belgium.

The post Sven Nys prepares for a final championship race appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Sven Nys, cyclocross's most successful rider ever, will make his last world championship start on Sunday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Sunday’s elite men’s world championship race will be the last for Belgium’s undisputed heavyweight champion of cyclocross, Sven Nys. Though Nys has won only two world titles in his career, he is arguably the most successful rider in the history of the sport. At 39 he will retire this year and take over the Telenet-Fidea team, which he and a group of backers purchased in December.

VeloNews caught up with Nys on Friday to talk about his feelings ahead of his final championship race, his Belgian team, and how to beat race favorite Mathieu van der Poel.

VeloNews: What are your emotions ahead of the race tomorrow? It’s your final world championships.

Sven Nys: Well there are not many emotions for the moment. It feels like it’s a normal world championships for me, and maybe that’s a reason that I feel it’s OK that I’m going to retire. For the moment, I don’t feel anything different than the years before. It’s just business as usual, that’s what I feel. It’s crazy, but it’s like this.

VN: How do you feel about your preparation for the race?

SN: For me, it was really important to have two really good results the last two World Cups, in France and in Holland, and that was not what I got. So it’s, mentally, not ok to have that result two weeks before the worlds.

But maybe I was a bit tired. I had the most races during the the Christmas period, and a race before France in Zonnebeke. So maybe that’s the reason.

I trained also maybe a little bit too hard the days before Hoogerheide. And I felt that the basic condition is OK, but my explosion, my power was not there. And if you can rest three, four days after Hoogerheide, then you feel that it’s coming back a little bit. And that’s what I need to have a good result in Zolder.

So, okay, we’ll see. It would be better that I had a good result in Hoogerheide, but it’s like this, and it’s okay.

VN: What do you hope for on Sunday?

SN: I hope that I have the feeling that the power is in my legs, that I can have one hour full gas, full power, and then I can have a result like I had during the season: going for the podium, going for the top five. I think that is possible when I have my maximum capacity.

VN: Can you be satisfied when you don’t win?

SN: Definitely. I think that you see during the season that there are two guys who are stronger than us. I beat Wout in Koksijde, but it’s a completely different track. When we could race today on a track like Koksijde, then it’s different, then there could happen many more things than here in Zolder. It’s more technical, it’s more — when you have stress over there you can make so many mistakes. Here that’s completely different.

Okay, it’s going to rain, and that helps me a bit. But we’ll see. I’m ready for the race, and I’m going to do my best to have a good result.

VN: Mathieu van der Poel is the big favorite. You’re about to take over the Telenet-Fidea team and be a team manager. What would you tell your guys to do tactically to try and neutralize Mathieu?

SN: Stay as long as possible in his wheel. Don’t work. Let him do the work because he is the big favorite. And then he’s going to be nervous. And in the other way, when there is a problem with Wout in the beginning of the race and he loses a lot of places, another guy from our country needs to help him. Definitely on the road, so he can sit out of the wind and come back a few seconds, that’s going to help him. He’s going to recover a bit, and maybe he can take a place again in the first group.

So, it’s not so difficult. You need to follow Mathieu, but don’t work with him. Let him do the work. Then he’s going to be nervous and then you can do something.

VN: Do you think the Belgians can work together as a team, or do you think ego and ambition could get in the way of that?

SN: In cyclocross, it’s not so easy to work together. But if there is a problem, you can help each other. And mentally, that helps the rider who is in really good shape.

You can’t say, ‘Okay, we’re going to ride in a group, Belgians, and we’re going to create a strong group that goes to Mathieu. That’s not possible, that’s not cyclocross. But on the other hand, if there is a problem, you can help each other. And if you know that that there are guys from the same country who are going to help you, mentally that’s important.

The post Sven Nys prepares for a final championship race appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/sven-nys-prepares-for-a-final-championship-race_394241/feed 0
Jingle Cross confirmed for 2016-17 CX World Cup http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/jingle-cross-confirmed-for-2016-17-cx-world-cup_394244 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/jingle-cross-confirmed-for-2016-17-cx-world-cup_394244#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 18:44:02 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394244

Jingle Cross has been a mainstay of the U.S. cyclocross calendar for years. Photo: Dave McElwaine (File).

Iowa City race organizers have confirmed that their cyclocross event will be part of the 2016-17 UCI cyclocross World Cup.

The post Jingle Cross confirmed for 2016-17 CX World Cup appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Jingle Cross has been a mainstay of the U.S. cyclocross calendar for years. Photo: Dave McElwaine (File).

Jingle Cross race organizers confirmed Saturday that their cyclocross race, held in Iowa City, will be part of next year’s UCI cyclocross World Cup series.

The race, traditionally held in late November or early December (hence the Christmas theme), will move to the weekend of September 24-25, 2016, with the elite World Cup racing happening on Saturday.

“We are very excited that the UCI has selected Jingle Cross and the city of Iowa City as a host event for the UCI World Cup,” said Jingle Cross founder and race director John Meehan. “We have been recognized as an outstanding cyclo-cross race by professional riders, recreational amateurs, spectators, and fans for many years here in North America. Now the world can see our amazing event.”

CrossVegas, the first-ever UCI World Cup held in North America, confirmed that it too will be part of the series again in 2016.

The post Jingle Cross confirmed for 2016-17 CX World Cup appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/jingle-cross-confirmed-for-2016-17-cx-world-cup_394244/feed 0
‘Technological fraud’ discovered at Zolder cyclocross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/uci_detains_bike_cyclocross_worlds_394233_394233 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/uci_detains_bike_cyclocross_worlds_394233_394233#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 17:48:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394233

The UCI confirmed that Belgian Femke van den Driessche (left) is under investigation for technological fraud following the under-23 women's world championship race. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

UCI official: “For the UCI, this is the first time we have established a technical fraud and for us that’s a downer. Most people are

The post ‘Technological fraud’ discovered at Zolder cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

The UCI confirmed that Belgian Femke van den Driessche (left) is under investigation for technological fraud following the under-23 women's world championship race. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — In what appears to be a first in cycling, the International Cycling Union confirmed that it had impounded the bike of Belgian rider Femke van den Driessche following the women’s under-23 championship race Saturday. Van den Driessche was a pre-race favorite, thanks to solid results in the World Cup and a stunning second-place finish at the Koppenbergcross, one of the most difficult races on the calendar, in November.

In an interview with Belgian TV network Sporza, Peter Van den Abeele, UCI’s off-road manager, said the bike was caught thanks to new technology the UCI has been developing for several years. “For the UCI, this is the first time we have established a technical fraud and for us that’s a downer. Most people are bewildered [by this].

“Was this a specific control? We’ve been doing tests for a while now at the world championships. In recent years, there’s been some hoopla, and we’ve adapted the technology. The people of the UCI’s technology commission were here in force with good equipment.”

A separate report on Sporza filled in some of the apparent details of what exactly happened.

“After one lap of the world championships, UCI took Femke’s bike in the pit area and tested it with some sort of tablet,” said Sporza journalist Maarten Vangramberen. “The bike was immediately sealed and taken. The UCI then called in the Belgian federation. When the saddle was removed, there were electrical cables in the seat tube. When they wanted to remove the bottom bracket, which is normally not difficult, they could not because the crank was stuck. Inside there was a motor.”

Van den Driessche’s day did not go according to plan. The race was battered by drenching rain and blustery winds, and she did not manage to crack the top 10, abandoning the race with one lap to go, with a broken chain. Whether there was a connection between her departure from the race and the technical control of her bike remains unclear.

The Belgian rides for the Kleur Op Maat-Nodrugs cycling team, on Wilier bikes. And it was, apparently, a Wilier that she was on when the control happened.

“I feel really terrible,” Belgian national team coach Rudy De Bie told Sporza. “This is a disgrace. I never imagined something like this would happen to our team. Why would a rider do this? Especially at such a young age. And who is responsible for her? I’m embarrassed on her behalf.”

A report in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, meanwhile, quoted her father as saying that the bike in question was not used in competition.

“It’s not Femke’s bike,” he reportedly said. “Someone from her team, who sometimes trains with her, brought the bike to the pit. But it was never the intention that she would ride it. … Femke has absolutely not used that bike in the race. We are strongly affected by what’s happened. Femke is totally upside-down.”

According to UCI rules, technological fraud is punishable by disqualification, a suspension at least six months, and a fine of up to 200,000 Swiss francs. A team found guilty of mechanical fraud also could face a suspension and a fine as large as one million francs.

The post ‘Technological fraud’ discovered at Zolder cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/uci_detains_bike_cyclocross_worlds_394233_394233/feed 0
De Jong sticks late attack to win women’s CX title http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/394207_394207 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/394207_394207#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 15:03:58 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394207

Thalita de Jong rode her own tempo through the first half of the elite women's world championship race and then delivered a powerful late attack. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Thalita de Jong takes a win for the Netherlands at 'cross worlds ahead of France's Caroline Mani and Belgium's Sanne Cant

The post De Jong sticks late attack to win women’s CX title appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Thalita de Jong rode her own tempo through the first half of the elite women's world championship race and then delivered a powerful late attack. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Thalita de Jong claimed the women’s world cyclocross championship title for the Netherlands Saturday on a muddy course in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. Caroline Mani of France nabbed the silver medal, while Belgium’s Sanne Cant settled for the last step on the podium.

After a junior men’s race and an under-23 women’s race both decided by long solo attacks, the women’s elite event was a hotly contested battle well into the final lap, with no one rider successfully detaching herself from the head of affairs until late on in the race.

Despite attempts to open things up, the field completed the first lap still relatively compact. Midway through lap two, a strong quartet managed to open up a bit of separation at the front of the pack. Mani and Cant were in the mix along with the Netherlands’ Sophie de Boer and Britain’s Nikki Harris. De Jong was not, trailing the leaders by several seconds by the time they completed the second lap.

But the 22-year-old Dutch rider started to work her way up to the head of the race and gradually closed down the gap to the foursome at the front throughout the third lap. By the time the leaders rolled across the finish line for the penultimate time, four had become five.

Cant launched a powerful attack at the start of the last lap and did not take her foot off the accelerator for several minutes, but de Jong was able to stay on her wheel. Then, when Cant appeared to flag, de Jong made her own move on a tough uphill stretch, immediately opening up an advantage.

Cant worked hard to try to close down the gap to de Jong, but she could not reel the Dutch rider back in. She then watched Mani sail by to claim second place.

“I caught the front group that [last] lap and I thought I had to take the lead on the heaviest part, with the wind in front of us,” de Jong said. “And then I saw that the others couldn’t pass me anymore, so I pushed, pushed, pushed on my pedals. And I had a gap. So I thought, ‘Go, go, go to the finish line.’ And I didn’t see anyone anymore.”

De Jong, known as much for her road riding as for her cyclocross ability, managed to exceed her low expectations coming into the race.

“I didn’t think I could win,” she said. “I believed I could do a really nice race, it’s a pretty nice course for me. It’s a course for road riders, a lot of straight parts in it. But because of the rain, today and yesterday evening, it’s become more slippery and more technical.

“Today I was a little bit scared, but I thought I’m going to do the race like I do every weekend and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

De Jong’s ride earns her a year in the rainbow jersey, succeeding 2015 worlds winner Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France, absent from the race this year due to a knee injury. Sanne Cant, who has dominated the women’s ‘cross circuit thus far this season, had been the favorite to take the title, but she did not quite have the legs Saturday.

“[I attacked] too early, I know that,” Cant said. “But I had to choose between the first or the last place in the group, so I chose the first one. But [de Jong] passed me and she rode away. So she was the strongest.”

The post De Jong sticks late attack to win women’s CX title appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/394207_394207/feed 0
CX worlds: Evie Richards claims U-23 women’s victory http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/evie-richards-takes-u23-cross-worlds-win_394203 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/evie-richards-takes-u23-cross-worlds-win_394203#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 14:18:59 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394203

Britain's Evie Richards rode solo to a U-23 women's world title Saturday on a muddy Heusden-Zolder course. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Britain's Evie Richards bested Czech rider Nicolas Noskova and Maud Kaptheijns of the Netherlands in the U-23 women's race at 'cross worlds

The post CX worlds: Evie Richards claims U-23 women’s victory appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Britain's Evie Richards rode solo to a U-23 women's world title Saturday on a muddy Heusden-Zolder course. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

HEUSDEN-ZOLDER, Belgium (AFP) — British rider Evie Richards won the U-23 women’s race Saturday at cyclocross worlds in Belgium. Nicolas Noskova of the Czech Republic and Maud Kaptheijns of the Netherlands settled for the lower steps of the podium behind the 18-year-old, who spent much of the race riding solo off the front.

Richards is an accomplished mountain biker as well, but Saturday’s race was her first ever international ‘cross event.

“It feels amazing. I can’t believe it,” Richards said. “I missed out on the mountain bike world jersey so to get it in ‘cross in my first one it just feels amazing. And my mom and dad were watching today so I’m happy to make them proud watching me.”

Belgium’s Femke Van den Driessche, among the top favorites for the title, abandoned mid-race after several mechanical problems.

The post CX worlds: Evie Richards claims U-23 women’s victory appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/evie-richards-takes-u23-cross-worlds-win_394203/feed 0
Jens Dekker nabs juniors title at ‘cross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/jens-dekker-claims-junior-cross-title_394197 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/jens-dekker-claims-junior-cross-title_394197#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 13:31:43 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394197

Jens Dekker rode to a juniors world championship victory Saturday on a wet Heusden-Zolder course. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

Dutchman Jens Dekker takes junior 'cross title ahead of France's Mickael Crispin and Thomas Bonnet

The post Jens Dekker nabs juniors title at ‘cross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Jens Dekker rode to a juniors world championship victory Saturday on a wet Heusden-Zolder course. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

HEUSDEN-ZOLDER, Belgium (AFP) — Jens Dekker rode to a juniors title at the cyclocross world championships Saturday on a rainy afternoon in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The 17-year-old Dutchman, ranked number one in the world in the juniors category, took the victory solo ahead of a French duo of Mickael Crispin and Thomas Bonnet.

“The start was the most important thing,” Dekker said. “I knew I that normally I would be the best, so I made sure to start very well and take the lead, and then I tried to get away.”

Dekker has been head and shoulders above the competition all season long, having already won the World Cup, the Dutch national championship, and European championship at the juniors level.

The post Jens Dekker nabs juniors title at ‘cross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/race-report/jens-dekker-claims-junior-cross-title_394197/feed 0
Video: GCN previews CX worlds with Jeremy Powers http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/video/video-gcn-previews-cx-worlds-with-jeremy-powers_394191 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/video/video-gcn-previews-cx-worlds-with-jeremy-powers_394191#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 21:09:57 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394191

Global Cycling Network takes a spin on the Zolder cyclocross world championships course with American Jeremy Powers.

The post Video: GCN previews CX worlds with Jeremy Powers appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Editor’s note: This video is courtesy of Global Cycling Network. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily represent the opinions of VeloNews.com, Velo magazine or the editors and staff of Competitor Group, Inc.

The post Video: GCN previews CX worlds with Jeremy Powers appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/video/video-gcn-previews-cx-worlds-with-jeremy-powers_394191/feed 0
Van Aert happy playing the underdog at cyclocross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-happy-playing-the-underdog-at-cyclocross-worlds_394185 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-happy-playing-the-underdog-at-cyclocross-worlds_394185#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 20:06:29 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394185

Wout Van Aert relaxed on Friday, sitting in with a group of Belgian schoolchildren who came to wish the national team well ahead of his championship race on Sunday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

Wout Van Aert is keeping a cool head ahead of the season's biggest race in front of the home crowd on Belgian soil this Sunday.

The post Van Aert happy playing the underdog at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Wout Van Aert relaxed on Friday, sitting in with a group of Belgian schoolchildren who came to wish the national team well ahead of his championship race on Sunday. Photo: Dan Seaton|VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Reigning world champion Mathieu van der Poel may be favored to repeat as world champion in Sunday’s elite championship race in Zolder, thanks to a strong showing in the past month of ‘cross racing. But it’s Belgian champion Wout Van Aert who has been the king of cyclocross for most of the season, and it’s Van Aert who will have the highly partisan home crowd behind him come race time.

Van Aert narrowly missed out on a chance to wear the rainbow stripes at last year’s championships in the Czech Republic, finishing second despite a host of technical problems during the race. But this year is another chance, and he seems unlikely to repeat last year’s mistakes. VeloNews caught up with the race’s top underdog in Zolder for a chat about his chances, his preparation, and his feelings about leading his country in front of the home fans in Sunday’s race.

Q: How are you feeling ahead of the race on Sunday? What’s your mentality right now?

A: For now I feel really relaxed. I have the feeling I’ve already achieved a lot of beautiful things this season. So I can already be happy with that. I think the stress will come up on Sunday morning. I’m motivated, but that’s all. I would really like to go for the world title, but I can be relaxed until Sunday.

Q: How much pressure do you feel because the race is in Belgium? The fans are going to want you to win very, very much.

A: A lot of people expect something from me, and also from all the Belgians. But I’ve learned to live with that feeling, and I think the only pressure I need to feel is the pressure I put on myself. So I think that’s important to know. For me, I learned a lot in the last year, and I think that’s why I can be relaxed at this moment. That’s really important.

Q: How do you keep from getting caught up in the excitement of the race, from going out too hard or making mistakes?

A: I learned a few tricks for that, but I think it’s really important to enjoy the crowd and not be afraid of it. That’s one important thing to keep in your mind before. I think you have to see it as something positive. There are a lot of people who will be out there on Sunday, a lot of Belgians for sure. I think they’ll support me, but they only can give me a boost.

Q: You said in some interviews last week you had specifically trained on, and for, this course. Can you talk a bit about how you prepared for the race?

A: We saw already at the World Cup right after Christmas that it’s a really explosive course. You really need to accelerate many times during the lap, and normally that’s not my best quality. I love more the long, straight parts. When we knew that after the Christmas World Cup, we worked on it in Spain and really worked on some attacks and steep parts and things like that. And I think that will work out on Sunday. I hope it.

Q: Mathieu is the top favorite. Do you think that gives you any kind of tactical advantage in the race, if people are looking at him and not at you?

A: Yeah, I hope so, but I don’t know. Mathieu is a really strong rider, and his biggest capacity is to stay cool in the head always. He is never impressed by anything. So I think he is going to do his own race. But I know his strenghts after racing with him for so many years. So I think that’s a big advantage for me, I know how to answer his attacks — or I’ll try it, at least — and then we’ll see what the second half of the race brings.

The post Van Aert happy playing the underdog at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/van-aert-happy-playing-the-underdog-at-cyclocross-worlds_394185/feed 0
Niels Albert: The next chapter http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/niels-albert-the-next-chapter_394140 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/niels-albert-the-next-chapter_394140#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 19:38:15 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394140

Albert emerges as a successful coach and mentor, finding real satisfaction in his new work, despite ending his racing career early due to a

The post Niels Albert: The next chapter appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

It all ended in Oostmalle, though it wasn’t supposed to be that way.

On a riotously sunny Sunday at the end of February, 2014, the temperature pushing 60 degrees, Niels Albert won his last race. It had been a long, hard season for the 28 year-old two-time world champion, one that produced a handful of important wins — notably at World Cups in Koksijde and Rome — but far fewer than he was accustomed to and neither a major series title or championship.

Belgian winters are long and dark, chilly and damp, and when the weather breaks and the sunlight pours out, golden and warm, it is as if someone has lifted a cold, heavy blanket from the countryside. That’s how it was that day in Oostmalle.

And, just a week after watching his last hope for a major series title evaporate, thanks to a poor result at the final Superprestige race in Middelkerke, Belgium, you could almost feel the sigh of relief Albert breathed on the start line as well. Lining up for the last race of a disappointing, stressful season, Albert looked relaxed and comfortable in a short-sleeve skinsuit unzipped to the chest. You could definitely see the sigh of relief he breathed at the finish, his arms outstretched, head back, taking his sixth career win on the sandy course that was something of his specialty. One last victory to cap a season of struggle.

Who could have guessed then that the struggle was so far from over?

Less than three months later, in a tearful press conference, Albert announced he would leave the sport immediately.

In a hastily announced press conference, Albert read a prepared statement. Haltingly, his voice wavering, he said, “Much sooner than I myself had expected and, particularly, than I had wished, I am today, for health reasons, forced to say goodbye to my professional cycling career.

“During a routine check it was discovered that I have a heart arrhythmia, and further research has shown that this problem could become fatal in extreme exertion, with a cardiac arrest as the result.”

Read the VeloNews feature on heart health and cycling >>

Albert took the summer off, attracted a little bit of media attention when he went to Rock Werchter and Tomorrowland — two big Belgian music festivals — but more or less disappeared from public view.

Then, in September, he was back. Albert signed on as sport director at Vastgoed Service-Golden Palace, a new team and the new home of then reigning under-23 world champion Wout Van Aert.

Under Albert’s tutelage, Van Aert emerged as a major force in cyclocross, taking a controversial win over Sven Nys at Koppenbergcross in early November 2014, and following it up with a resounding World Cup win on the sand dunes of Koksijde a few weeks later. On the finish line there, Van Aert hopped of his bike, took a couple of running steps, and hopped back on. The gesture, he told reporters, honored the two men to win a world championship in Koksijde, Paul Herygers and Van Aert’s sport director, Niels Albert.

“I live in the same town as Paul Herygers who did it the first time in 1994, and last year Niels [Albert] did the same,” said Van Aert. “[Niels] asked me to do something special, and the last two laps I was thinking, ‘Something special, something special, I have to do something the people can see, I’ll do it for him.’ And I think it was beautiful to cross the finish line like that.”

It was, in some sense, Albert’s first real triumph in his new role, forging a bond of trust with the team’s young star, and coaching him to a major victory on a course that once all but belonged to Albert himself.

Now, a year later, Van Aert has emerged as a nearly unstoppable force, beaten only a handful of times this year, and earning what is sure to be the first of many Belgian national titles. And Albert has emerged as a successful coach and mentor, finding, he says now, real satisfaction in his new work after the turbulent — but not unsuccessful — season that saw his transformation.

“It’s now my second year as team leader,” says Albert, who is now a few pounds heavier than he was at his peak, but still flashes the same dashing, boyish smile as he always did when he talks about racing. “The first year was a little bit like finding my way, the situation was all new. Now I’m a little bit more used to making some comments and sometimes to make myself angry [to help fire up] the boys.

“I wanted to try to do this after my career, but my career stopped too early. For me it was brand new. I didn’t expect to have to do it at this age. I wanted first to try it, and I asked Geert [Vanhoof] — the chief of the team — I asked him last year, ‘Okay, I want to try it, I don’t know if I’ll have a good feeling or the self-confidence to give the right information to the guys.’ I had to learn also, and the first year was a little bit of learning everything, but now I’m coming into the position and I like it.”

On race days, Albert helps the riders on his team — now a mashup team called Crelan-Vastgoedservice, sporting a combination green-orange kit that must be the single ugliest in the sport — with mental preparation and pre-race strategy. He also runs a team workout midweek.

“Before the race I try to get the riders together with a WhatsApp group, on the iPhones, and I say to all the riders, ‘Okay, think about that, think about this. You see here a picture of the track, this is a little bit difficult, here are stones, here is a big gap for a crash or something,’” he tells VeloNews. “That’s how I always give the right information to the guys. For the moment it’s a good situation that works. But I give it to all the riders. I don’t pull Wout before the rest, as we say in Flemish. All the riders are the same for me. But we do some great results with Wout now and it’s good for the team, and we’re quite happy.”

Though his experience and skill at analyzing the dynamics of a course have clearly paid off for the riders, he plays down the significance of his part in their success and in Van Aert’s in particular.

“Wout has a good team from trainers and massage guys, but I think I make a little bit the difference to give him trust and self confidence,” says Albert. “I [want to] give him the right information before the race. Maybe it’s five percent to bring him to the victory, but that five percent is enough.”

In some sense, Albert’s success as a sport director might be linked both to his unique combination of youth and experience. Other teams employ former racers as well — three-time world champion Mario De Clercq announced this month that he will retire as sport director of Belgium’s recently rechristened Marlux-Napoleongames squad after nearly a decade in that role — but Albert is not only a champion, but a peer. Until barely more than a year ago, he shared the course with the same riders he now directs. As a result, the level of trust and camaraderie he has fostered, along with his still-acute awareness of what life as a young rider is like, has lifted up the team.

Still, Albert is modest about his importance.

“I want not to take the results as my own,” he says. “They have some individual trainers and [my job is] to make them happy and have a good feeling on Wednesday on the training, and to give them self-confidence on the trainings. And to push them to the limit, but on Tuesday and Thursday, when they have to train long rides on the road, then they’re alone. I’m just a piece of the victory.”

And in spite of his team’s success, Albert says he still feels a familiar ache when he watches a race, a deep sense that, in spite of his good fortune to have caught his heart problem before it put his life at risk, something fundamental was lost, a piece of his identity that can never be put back in place.

“Sometimes it’s difficult,” Albert admits. “Sometimes I watch to the riders and to the track, and I say, ‘Shit. It’s bad luck, it’s quite stupid that I’m over here now and not racing.’ It’s shit, but it is what it is.”

It is a strange, contradictory feeling. Life is good. On the one hand, he is successful in work and will probably live to an old age, spared a terrible fate by a chance medical exam. On the other, he is surely not the same man he was just 18 months ago.

Nonetheless, taking the long view, he does not deny his overall good fortune.

“I have a problem with my heart, but I don’t have pain or anything,” he said. “I don’t feel anything. And that’s strange. I have a problem that I don’t feel, and sometimes it’s hard to understand. But after everything, my life is in a good situation. I have a new girlfriend. I have a good bike shop. The team results are very good. The guys are accepting me and have some respect for me. And that’s why I’m doing this for the guys. When the guys are happy, then it’s okay.”

In addition to the team, there is that bike shop in his hometown, Tremolo, just a couple of kilometers down the road from the site of his one-time top rival, Sven Nys’s, namesake race in nearby Baal. Albert spends most days when he’s not racing there, puttering with the bikes, chatting with fans who come to visit the former champion. Signing the occasional autograph.

“The bike shop is,” he starts to explain, then pauses and rethinks. “It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s a good investment. Normally I’m right there the whole week long when I’m not at the races [or] at the [team] training. On Monday, Tuesday, Friday — Saturday when it’s not a race — then I’m in the shop. So, yeah, people come in and ask to take a picture or to get my advice and, yeah, we sell a bike.”

You talk to Niels Albert, and you get him started talking about the bikes, and you immediately see why he was so successful as a rider, how he wears his love for the sport — and for the bike itself — on his rainbow-striped sleeve. You see why he seemed to be having so much fun in a goofy old-timer’s race earlier this season, a non-battle between five retired former world champions: Albert, Bart Wellens, Erwin Vervecken, Paul Herygers, and Danny De Bie to raise money for charity. It is his pure love for the sport.

He was not always the fastest or the most skillful, but he won because he loved what he was doing so much that he could turn himself inside out to take a victory. And maybe, somewhere along the way, he went a little to far, pushed a little beyond the limit when he should have been resting, and it cost him almost everything.

He is glad, he’ll tell you, to be alive, there’s no doubt about it. But he knows what he lost and won’t pretend otherwise. If you’re in Belgium, you can drive down a narrow main street of the little village of Tremolo, and you’ll find the Niels Albert Bike Shop. Go in and you can ask him yourself.

“I feel [fortunate], but sometimes I’m feeling unlucky,” he’ll tell you. “If I were 33 years old or something, then I’d say, ‘Okay, bad luck, but I’m going on.’ But now it’s three or four years too early to stop. And that’s quite unlucky. But I’m happy with the victories of the team, and for me it’s okay.”

And that little contradictory reply, you’ll know, is the truth. It exactly sums up the strange dichotomy that is his new life. You take the good and the bad and you do what you can with it. At your best, maybe you win a bike race, maybe a big one. And you can celebrate that.

Another day, you take a breath, glad you’re still there to do it, take a picture and, if you’re lucky, you sell a bike. You miss the racing, you know there was more you wanted to do, but you can celebrate that too.

The post Niels Albert: The next chapter appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/niels-albert-the-next-chapter_394140/feed 0
Cant seeks elusive victory at cyclocross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cant-seeks-elusive-victory-at-cyclocross-worlds_394174 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cant-seeks-elusive-victory-at-cyclocross-worlds_394174#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 15:39:34 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394174

Belgian Champion Sanne Cant will be chasing rainbows Saturday in Zolder. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

Belgium Sanne Cant is a seven-time national cyclocross champion, but a world title is missing from her resume.

The post Cant seeks elusive victory at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

Belgian Champion Sanne Cant will be chasing rainbows Saturday in Zolder. Photo: Dan Seaton | VeloNews.com

ZOLDER, Belgium (VN) — Sanne Cant has been waiting a long, long time for this.

She is arguably the greatest Belgian woman cyclocross rider ever and comes from a country obsessed with the sport. She has been national champion since 2010, an unbroken streak of seven wins. She has won the World Cup twice, the European championships twice, and has earned two medals at worlds.

A year ago in Tabor, Czech Republic, Cant took French champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot right down to the final meters of the race, missing out on a championship in heartbreaking fashion — especially after putting together the strongest season of her career.

But in spite of all her success, she has spent a career at the margins of the spotlight, just behind Marianne Vos, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Katie Compton, Daphny van den Brand, and Hanka Kupfernagle. Looking for the podiums and medals on the edges, waiting to exploit a weakness and vault, briefly, to success against older, more established competition.

That has changed this year. Cant, who wrapped up her second World Cup title last week in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, is the clear favorite for Saturday’s elite women’s world championship race here on the old Formula One track in Zolder, thanks to both her season-long dominance and her commanding win in a World Cup race on the same course just a month ago.

“It’s the first year I’m the favorite,” Cant told VeloNews Thursday night. “I’m happy with it. At this moment, I don’t feel any pressure. [All the support from the fans] makes me feel good.”

If she wins on Saturday, it will be the culmination of an all-consuming, decade-long quest, one whose roots go back to her early childhood.

“There is not much life beyond the bike for me,” she said. “I try just to focus. Sometimes I go for a coffee or something, but I don’t have any hobbies. This is it.

“I started when I was 6, in Holland. And I drove every year. This is my 10th world championships. I feel really old!”

But Cant’s success, the long arc of her life that took her from youth races for fun to being one of the world’s best cyclocrossers, has not come in a vacuum. Sucked into cycling alongside her cousins and brothers, cyclocross became a family effort.

“My parents are always there,” she explained. “If I ask something, they do everything. We are with three kids, and we all ride cyclocross. So it’s not easy, but they are just amazing.”

It’s not so unusual in Belgium, that family commitment to cycling. Cant herself still lives at home, although she will move out on her own later this year at age 25. She is frequently seen cheering for her brother, Kevin, a repeat national champion in the elite non-professional category, alongside the same course where she herself raced only moments before. Family support, she says, is a big part of of the formula that has earned her so much success.

Now she is met with arguably the biggest test of her decade-long career. She will race, in front of a highly partisan home crowd, as the favorite in a world championship. Without long-time champion Marianne Vos, who is still returning to cyclocross after a series of injuries last year, and reigning champion Ferrand-Prevot, who also is focused on returning to form after an injury, all eyes will be on Cant.

If she wins, it will be vindication for last year’s achingly close loss, a memory whose recall is still clearly and visibly painful for her.

“It was — I was so close, I can —” she trailed off, then collected herself. “After the podium it was really hard. I raced the whole year, I think I had a really good year, and I had to lose to someone in a sprint! It was not easy. But I made it a motivation. I hope it will give me some strength this year.”

Cant took some flak for comments in the post-race press conference in Tabor, telling reporters how hard it was for riders who make their living at cyclocross to match riders, like Ferrand-Prevot, who focus on other disciplines and can come to the championships fresh, having only a few, late season races in their legs. She walked back those comments later on, telling reporters she believed Ferrand-Prevot was a worthy champion. But it’s clear she took the lessons of last season — a season she started with impressive form that she struggled to maintain through the winter — to heart.

“[Early this season] I tried to win, but with less condition than last year,” she said of the slow build to form she has followed this year. “And I think I’m now at my best. I trained really hard. I don’t think I can train any more than this. I hope it was good enough. I have to wait to see now.”

Will it be enough? That’s a question whose answer depends not only on her own preparation, but the preparation of a half-dozen other women as well. Cant flags American Katie Compton and Italian Eva Lechner as top rivals, though rivals whose condition is hard to gauge right now. She taps Dutch champion Thalita de Jong, who also has a burgeoning career racing on the road, as a wildcard, capable of a very good race on the fast Zolder track.

But whether her preparation will be enough is also a question that depends on a thousand external factors: the track, the terrible weather forecast, and whether she can handle the pressure when things get busy and nervous and loud.

The truth, however, is that it doesn’t matter so much whether she wins or not — at least, not to anyone but her. Cant’s legacy is secure; she’s already the queen of Belgian cyclocross, in spite of the missing jewel in her crown. There is more to her and her career now than race wins.

“A few years ago I was asking myself why I’m doing this,” she said. “I think that’s normal. And now I just want one thing, to make [women’s cyclocross] popular in Belgium. And hope the younger riders will try to follow me. And I think we’re on a good way. We can grow, but I think this year, with the TV [race coverage], it’s already good.”

Still, she’ll savor victory, if it shines its light on her. And if she should win on Saturday?

“I think I won’t sleep that night,” she says. “We’ll have a big party.”

The post Cant seeks elusive victory at cyclocross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cant-seeks-elusive-victory-at-cyclocross-worlds_394174/feed 0
Commentary: Obstacles you won’t see at ’cross worlds http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/commentary-obstacles-you-wont-see-at-cross-worlds_394048 http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/commentary-obstacles-you-wont-see-at-cross-worlds_394048#comments Fri, 29 Jan 2016 13:49:21 +0000 http://velonews.competitor.com/?p=394048

For its Halloween race, Cross Crusade includes smoking coffins because... why not? Photo: Sherry Schwenderlauf

Fred Dreier highlights a few obstacles we likely won't see on the cyclocross worlds race course in Belgium this weekend.

The post Commentary: Obstacles you won’t see at ’cross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>

For its Halloween race, Cross Crusade includes smoking coffins because... why not? Photo: Sherry Schwenderlauf

Organizers of this weekend’s UCI Cyclocross world championships have reportedly transformed Belgium’s Zolder motor racing circuit into a devilish 3.2km ring of pain.

Need proof? Observe Helen Wyman’s course preview video, which shows a course full of steep climbs, wooden flyovers, patches of sand and mud, and plenty of twists and turns.

I’m sure the Zolder course will create a worthy challenge for the world’s best pros. But will you see any smoking coffins used as barriers? Will there be barbed wire? Will riders be forced to navigate a limbo pole?

Of course not.

The worlds organizers are beholden to the UCI’s Technical Guide for Cyclo-cross — a charming document that reads like VCR instructions. The guide prohibits a promoter from transforming a ’cross course into a demolition derby or minefield with rules like the following:

— The course may include no more than six man-made obstacles.

— The length of an obstacle may not exceed 80 meters and the height may not exceed 40cm.

— The course may include a single section of planks… placed minimum 4 meters and maximum 6 meters apart.

— Bridges or footbridges shall be covered with an anti-slip surface.

You may be wondering what specific obstacles are strictly verboten under the UCI’s stringent rules. Organizers of unsanctioned races have, for years, created nasty or wacky features to boost the mayhem or simply challenge racers’ might. Of course, there are simply too many of these nutty features to tally. But I’ve compiled a short list of my favorite cyclocross obstacles that you won’t see at worlds.

Mad Max-inspired Thunderdome

In 2009 the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships headed to Portland, where the local Cross Crusade organized the event. There was a foam pit, a windmill, and a 30-foot high metal dome structure inspired by the 1985 classic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Racers had to ride through the thunderdome, while fans hung from the metal dome spokes and doused them with beer.

UCI Rulebook violations: The Thunderdome is definitely taller than 40cm. I believe the UCI also has rules against anything Mel Gibson related.

Who would excel: Drunkest fans.

Limbo pole

This story comes from UCI mountain bike coordinator Simon Burney, a ’cross veteran. Apparently in the mid 1980s, the organizer of the British National Cyclocross championships had a limbo pole on the course, which forced a rider to hang off the side of his bike to pass under the obstacle. “It generated quite a lot of heated discussion between the 6-footers and the organizer,” Burney said. Apparently someone smashed the pole before the race.

UCI Rulebook violations: Per UCI rules, I believe limbo music must also be played when limbo poles are in use.

Who would excel: Short people.

Junkyard front-end loader

Since 2006, Philadelphia’s Bilenky Cycle Works has held a cyclocross race in a junkyard, where rusty metal and tetanus provide the real challenge to racers. One year, Steve Bilenky and his crew had racers run through the shell of a burned out van and then vault over a dead car. “Most people just fling themselves over,” Bilenky said. Another year, they routed riders up a ladder, over a wooden corridor, and through the cab of a bombed-out front-end loader. They even tacked some anti-slip surface to the descent from the loader to keep racers from breaking their tailbones.

UCI Rulebook violations: They put anti-stick material on the descent, so this one might be legal!

Who would excel: Scrap metal aficionados

Smoking coffins and tire run

Every October, the Cross Crusade holds its annual Halloween ’cross race, where riders and fans don costumes. Organizers also jazz up the course with two features that would definitely make UCI delegates scratch their Swiss heads. Instead of wooden barriers, the Cross Crusade puts out old wooden coffins, each with a smoke machine inside. After leaping over the coffins, riders must then navigate a military-style tire obstacle that would make Private Benjamin proud.

UCI Rulebook violations: I didn’t ask Cross Crusade if the coffins were under 40cm, so hey, maybe they could get away with it.

Who would excel: The undead. Also, G.I. Joe and Jane.

The post Commentary: Obstacles you won’t see at ’cross worlds appeared first on VeloNews.com.

]]>
http://velonews.competitor.com/2016/01/news/cyclocross/commentary-obstacles-you-wont-see-at-cross-worlds_394048/feed 0