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Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up, Monday, December 14, 2009

Date published:
December 14, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • Road stars turn to cyclo-cross for charity

    Tom Boonen enjoying some off-season fun for a good cause.
    Article published:
    December 03, 2009, 12:00 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Boonen, Pozzato, Devolder, Ballan to headline Mol event

    Many of professional road cycling's top names will try their luck at cyclo-cross in a charity event at Lake 'Het Zilvermeer' in Mol, Belgium this Saturday. The event benefits the organisation 'Move to Improve' which helps disabled children, and was organised by Tom Boonen and Wilfried Peeters.

    Boonen, fellow Belgian Stijn Devolder, Italians Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan and Spaniard Carlos Barredo are just a few of the 43 professionals from 15 countries which will take part in the event. Boonen and his Quick Step teammates tested out the course in Mol on Wednesday.

    The full line-up includes Mario Aerts, Jan Bakelants, Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Carlos Barredo (Spa), Kris Boeckmans, Tom Boonen, David Boucher (Fra), Arnaud Coyot (Fra), Wilfried Cretskens, Steven de Jongh (Ned), Wim De Vocht, Bert De Waele, Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Stijn Devolder, Gert Dockx, Yannick Eijssen, Addy Engels (Ned), Denis Flahaut (Fra), Kevin Hulsmans, Stijn Joseph, Servais Knaven (Ned), Bjorn Leukemans, Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita), Nick Nuyens, Geert Omloop, Filippo Pozzato (Ita), Frederique Robert, Kevin Seeldraeyers, Roy Sentjens, Bram Tankink (Ned), Niki Terpstra, Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Greg Van Avermaet, Jurgen Van de Walle, Jurgen Van den Broeck, Kevin Van Impe, Stijn Vandenbergh, Jelle Vanendert, Pieter Vanspeybrouck, Geert Verheyen, Wouter Weylandt, Maarten Wijnants.

    The Quick Step team also launched a charity auction to benefit a young Belgian named Zita Deweghe, who has suffered from a serious congenital hearing problem since birth. Deweghe will finally be able to undergo a surgical procedure that will allow her to hear her parents' voice.

    The team is auctioning off special black and white autographed photos of the 2009 team Quick Step riders taken by Belgian photographer Henk Van Cauwenbergh.

    Bids for the images can be made at the team's web site by clicking on...

  • Jonathan Page returns for US cyclo-cross Nationals

    Jonathan Page (Planet Bike)
    Article published:
    December 03, 2009, 12:25 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Former Champion confident of form, wary of rivals

    The USA's Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) will return home from his European cyclo-cross campaign well prepared to contest the United States National cyclo-cross Championships, to held in Bend, Oregon on Sunday, December 13.

    Page has won the US national cyclo-cross title on three occasions in 2002, 2003 and 2004. However, the prestigious jersey has eluded him in the last four years with victories distributed between rivals Todd Wells (2005), Tim Johnson (2007) and Ryan Trebon (2006, 2008).

    "I have to think of Nationals as what it is; a one day event. Anything can happen." Page said. "It's a lot of work and sacrifice and planning for me just to get over there and although I've done my best each year, I've been unable to win it for the last four years. If I win it, it would be great. But if I don't, I’m not going to be disappointed anymore. I have a lot of racing left afterwards in Europe and I’m really focused on the Worlds."

    Page is best known for being the first North American to stand on the elite World Championships podium, after he claimed the silver medal at the 2007 cyclo-cross Worlds in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. He jumped over to full-time European 'cross racing in 2005 and has competed since in the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup and Superprestige series'.

    He kicked off his 2009 cyclo-cross season in the USA and landed a podium place in each of the US-based races he started, including the Star Crossed, Rad Racing, Cross Vegas, Madison Cup and the Gran Prix of Gloucester. In early October he travelled back to his base in Belgium to prepare for the start of his European season.

    "It helped to have [UCI] points [gathered in the US]," Page said. "That was the first goal of doing well. That way I could start further forward in the grid over here. It's also easier, I think, to start in America, rather have my first race over here against the World's best."

    Since his departure, the US cyclo-cross...

  • Albert honoured as Flemish Athlete of the Year

    World Cup leader Niels Albert may have to put his running skills to the test in Igorre, Spain for the World Cup's fifth round.
    Article published:
    December 05, 2009, 14:12 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    First cyclo-cross rider to win De Vlaamse Reus

    Niels Albert has won De Vlaamse Reus award as best Flemish athlete of the year. The award is attributed by an association of Flemish sports journalists.

    Albert received 555 points, with second-placed tennis player Kim Clijsters receiving 355. Sven Nys was fourth with 201 points, and Tom Boonen seventh with 74.

    The 23-year-old is the first cyclo-cross rider to receive the award, and the third cyclist. Tom Boonen won it in 2005 and Johan Museeuw in 1995.

    Albert won the World Championships earlier this year for the first time. In the current cyclo-cross season he has achieved 11 victories so far, and leads in both the UCI world rankings and the GVA trophy. He was not able to accept the award in person as he is competing the World Cup race in Igorre, Spain, on Sunday.

    Follow Cyclingnews on Twitter for the very latest coverage of events taking place in the cycling world - twitter.com/cyclingnewsfeed.

  • 'Move to Improve' charity race a success

    Tom Boonen shows his 'cross skills.
    Article published:
    December 07, 2009, 10:48 GMT
    By:
    Richard Tyler

    Organisers Boonen and Peeters pleased with event, Pozzato leads successful charity auction

    Tom Boonen and Wilfried Peeters have declared the inaugural 'Move to Improve' charity race in Mol, Belgium, on Saturday a success, and expressed their confidence that the event will continue into the future.

    The cyclo-cross race at Het Zilvermeer (Silver Lake) in Boonen's home town saw a number of road cycling's top riders test themselves on a sandy course. Apart from the spectacle of the event, a charity auction held in conjunction with the race saw more than 30,000 Euros raised for the 'Move to Improve' foundation.

    "We are very happy people," organizers Boonen and Peeters told Het Nieuwsblad after the event. "This could become an annual event for the riders."

    The race itself was won by Quick Step's Maarten Wijnants, who was one of the riders with some 'cross experience. Although the emphasis of the event was on fun for the gathered crowd, the Belgian admitted that there was still a measure of friendly rivalry.

    "Boonen and I have been chatting for weeks about who would be the best of us," said a playful Wijnants, before adding, "maybe I'll call [Belgian cyclo-cross coach] Rudy De Bie again, I've still got his phone number."

    Italian Filippo Pozzato was at the opposite end of the spectrum to his former-Quick Step colleague. In his first ever cyclo-cross event the Katusha rider finished 36th, a result no doubt influenced by his attention to local custom the night before the race. "Duvel? Yes, I'm well acquainted with [that beer] now."

    However, Pozzato proved his commitment to the spirit of the event as he donated 5,000 Euro to the foundation at the charity auction. The Italian was the winning bidder on a collection of signatures of all the riders who participated in the race. The auction raised a total of 30,200 Euros, with one of Tom Boonen's bikes attracting a 15,000 Euro bid.

  • Rabo-Giant Offroad Team to debut in January

    Boy van Poppel (Rabobank)
    Article published:
    December 11, 2009, 12:59 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Rabobank restructures cyclo-cross team, with bike manufacturer as co-sponsor

    Rabobank has restructured its cyclo-cross team for the coming year, bringing in mountain bike riders and sharing the sponsorship for the Rabo-Giant Offroad Team. The new squad, which will start as of January 1, 2010, will concentrate on supporting and promoting mainly Dutch riders, also focusing on young riders. The majority of the 16 riders is less than 23 years old.

    The new team will be managed by Jan ten Tusscher, and have two team directors, one for each discipline: Leo van Zeeland for the mountain bikers and Richard Groenendaal for the 'cross riders.

    "The creation of this offroad team is a logical step,” said Rabobank general manager Harold Knebel. “It perfectly fits into the Rabobank philosophy of supporting all branches of cycling, and it gives the young riders the time and homeland environment to work on their talents. We want to keep our options open to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.”

    The new team will not be a part of the Rabo Cycling Teams BV, and unlike the ProTour and Continental teams, has a name co-sponsor with Giant. “Despite the slightly different funding, we are supplying the guidelines on communications, ethics and medical policy,” added Knebel.

    The Rabo-Giant Offroad Team extends the co-operation between the cycling organisation and the Japanese bike manufacturer. Both of Rabobank's road teams ride Giant bikes.

  • Course changes on eve of US elite 'cross nationals

    A new section of hairpin turns has been added after the double barriers to add some length to the lap times.
    Article published:
    December 12, 2009, 21:47 GMT
    By:
    James Huang, Tech Editor

    Course lengthened after faster-than-anticipated lap times

    Faster-than-anticipated lap times have prompted USA Cycling to modify two sections of the US national cyclo-cross championship course in an effort to improve the level of competition for the top racers.

    "We wanted to make sure the length of the course was appropriate [for the faster riders]," said USA Cycling director of communications Andrea Smith. "The masters riders were doing it pretty quickly - some of them with six-minute laps - so we knew that the elites, U23 and collegiate folks were going to beat that."

    The first change occurs near the beer tent just after the double barriers. Whereas the course previously took a relatively direct path on to a short paved section, the route now doubles back on itself twice as riders tackle two 180-degree hairpin turns before hitting the tarmac. The transition to the pavement is also more level in contrast to the slippery off-camber entrance that claimed so many riders over the first two days of racing.

    The second update comes shortly thereafter at the top of the run-up. Instead of immediately turning back down the hill, the race route now briefly traverses the slope then spits the riders down a fast, slippery and off-camber descent. Racers will have to check their speed carefully, though, as a tight hairpin turn is precariously placed at the bottom before hitting the pavement again.

    In spite of USA Cycling's efforts, the changes have only extended lap times by about 20 seconds on account of improving weather conditions. Temperatures crept up to about 2°C (35°F) by midday Saturday and most of the snow and ice that was on the course the previous night has turned to increasingly sloppy - but fast - mud and numerous sections of shallow standing water. In addition, what was once a snowy run-up is now being ridden by most of the riders on course.

    Tonight's forecast calls for a greater chance of rain, snow and sleet, but temperatures will remain above freezing tomorrow so expect...

  • Trebon believes he can defend stars-and-stripes jersey

    Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) had a bad start and had to play catch-up.
    Article published:
    December 13, 2009, 8:01 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    Home town pressure for Kona-FSA rider

    Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) has turned his focus to defending his stars-and-stripes jersey at the United States of America Cyclo-Cross Championships in Bend, Oregon after wrapping up the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross series win just one week ago.

    “Sometimes I’ve been feeling like I’m totally on it and other times I’m getting my ass kicked again,” Trebon told Cyclingnews. “I took each week at a time and tried to build into nationals. I feel like I’ve had pretty good fitness this year so we’ll see.”

    Trebon’s USGP title was the rider’s third. This year saw a battle between Trebon and Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Todd Wells (Specialized) displayed his high-end fitness winning the finale USGP in Portland last weekend, who good hold him in good stead for today’s race.

    Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) has returned state-side from a successful European campaign and no doubt has his eyes set on winning another national title. Trebon likes his odds of defending the championship title, despite the steep competition he’ll need to conquer.

    “I feel pretty good,” Trebon said. “I hope Todd Wells starts getting better. Hopefully he will continue to improve. It’s always nice to have more people at the front other than just three teammates and one other rider. At least one other person to help cover moves is nice. The course is challenging enough in Bend to make it selective. It’s not just going to be drag race.”

    Trebon is racing under the added pressure of the championships being held in the Old Mill District, located in his hometown of Bend. He assured cycling fans that he is prepared to put on a show for the locals that come out to support him.

    “I live in Bend but we don’t have any big races except for nationals,” Trebon said. “I’m...

  • Johnson turns focus to World Championships

    Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
    Article published:
    December 14, 2009, 9:19 GMT
    By:
    Kirsten Frattini

    New national champion on course for best-ever performance

    Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) capped off a successful Stateside cyclo-cross season with a victory at the US cyclo-cross national championships held in Bend, Oregon on Sunday. The 32-year-old will now turn his attention to the UCI World Championships held in Tabor, Czech Republic in January.

    Johnson has won the prestigious stars and stripes jersey on two previous occasions - 2000 and 2007 - both in Kansas City. This year he was the odds-on favourite after eight season victories and winning the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series overall title.

    "Oh my God, I can't believe this," said Johnson before donning the US cyclo-cross national champion's jersey. "It feels amazing to have the jersey back. Last time I traded frozen fingers for the win in Kansas City and I did the same thing today. My fingers are killing me."

    Johnson struggled to hold a slim three to five seconds' advantage ahead of runner up Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) for the last half of the championship race. However, after a flawless final lap he added an additional three seconds.

    "I didn't know I had it won until I came out of that off-cambre section and that sketchy downhill, definitely a place to dump it," Johnson explained. "I came out of that last corner and that was really the only time I actually knew that I had it."

    Johnson had bridged across to his leading teammate Jeremy Powers in the opening laps. An unfortunate crash caused Powers to lose valuable time and he finished fifth place.

    "Powers and I together was a best race scenario," Johnson continued. "We wanted to control the race from the start and not have to make any big moves to catch back up to the lead. The two of us up front with Ryan dangling off the back, Jonathan had a bike change, it was a perfect scenario. It was a bummer that Jeremy crashed like that."

    Johnson admitted that his focus has turned to the UCI World Championships and will compete in the final World...