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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, Saturday, February 5, 2011

Date published:
February 05, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Compton better than ever before 'cross worlds

    American Katie Compton is an odds-on favorite for the rainbow jersey.
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 0:11 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    American considered top favorite in St. Wendel

    Despite being one of the top riders in the UCI rankings, the rainbow jersey has eluded American Katie Compton over the past four World cyclo-Cross Championships.

    While she landed on the podium in two of the four races, the other two resulted in DNF's when she was hit with mysterious and debilitating leg cramps. With her health finally resolved, all systems are a go at this year's World Championships for the most dominant woman in 'cross this season.

    "After years of feeling badly, dealing with muscle pains and a list of other symptoms, I went to see an Endocrinologist to have hormone-specific blood tests done. Last summer, we finally discovered that my body doesn't convert the hormone T4 to the usable form T3 very efficiently.

    "T3 pretty much is the one that regulates your metabolism and energy levels, and once I started taking T3 and not just T4, I finally started feeling better. I'm still dialing in the dosage but getting closer to feeling normal again. It has been a really long time since that has happened, so I'm not sure what normal is yet but every week seems better and better," explains Compton.

    Over the last few months, 32-year-old Compton has had numerous opportunities to test our her newfound health. Of the 13 races she entered, she has won 12, earned her seventh US National Cyclo-Cross title, and won all five World Cups she entered.

    When asked if she regretted skipping the remaining two World Cups that would have given her the overall World Cup win, in order to put it all on the World Championships, she muses, "It was unfortunate, I was a little disappointed but I just can't do everything I want anymore. I'm still really happy I finished second and won the races I started.

    "I know it is a little risky [to put it all on Worlds] but you have to take those kind of risks in order to win big. I'm coming in as prepared as I can be this year. I feel better than I have ever felt, my energy is good, my legs are...

  • Belgians left empty-handed after day one of cyclo-cross world championships

    Joeri Adams (Belgium) leads Vincent Baestaens (Belgium)
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 18:51 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Pressure grows before Sunday's Elite Women's and Men's races

    After one day of racing at the cyclo-cross world championships in Sankt-Wendel, Germany the biggest cyclo-cross nation in the world is still empty-handed, putting more pressure on the Belgians to win the Elite Women’s and Men’s races on Sunday.

    The young Belgian riders failed to live up to the high expectations on the shoulders in the Junior Men’s and Under 23 Men’s category on Saturday. None of them won a title or even a medal but Belgian coach Rudy De Bie didn't want to say a bad word about his riders

    “I'm pleased with their races but there's no prize. Things were looking good in the Under 23 race but Wietse Bosmans misjudged an acceleration and he was already riding at his limit. He should have done something to surprise the others though. The flat tyre from Vincent Baestaens was unlucky too,” De Bie said.

    In contrast to most other races this season, none of the Belgians rode near the front in Sankt-Wendel. Laurens Sweeck dominated most of the World Cup rounds and the local Belgian races but crashed several times during the world championships race. The Belgian U23 selection seemed very strong with riders like Wietse Bosmans, Vincent Baestaens, Joeri Adams, Vinnie Braet and Jim Aernouts, but all of them were reacting rather than acting.

    “It's true that except for Joeri Adams none of the Belgians was able to control the race by continuously riding in the top-three. I can live with the outcome though as the boys were present up front. They didn't disappoint me at all. It's not by capturing a medal that you become a rider or not,” De Bie said justifying the lack of medals.

    A reason for the lack of success in the most important race of the year could be that for the Belgians, every race on home soil is considered to be important, be it a round of the Superprestige Series or Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy. It results in a very long season for the Belgians, while other riders arrive...

  • 'Cross Worlds top 10 on Miller's mind

    Meredith Miller will races for Team USA at Cyclo-cross Worlds.
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 20:22 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    American hopes to end up and down season on positive note

    American Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms) is entering her second cyclo-cross world championships a lot more positive than last year. Based on results alone - especially her recent performance in the Kalmthout and Zolder World Cups, it would seem she'd be a little more unsure of her potential but results don't always tell the whole story.

    "My season has definitely had its ups and downs. [In many of the races] there was some sort of mishap right in the beginning, whether it was a bad start, a crash or course tape taking me out, where I had to fight my way back. In the US, it's easier to get back up to the front, so I was able to do that several times. But coming over here to Europe during the Christmas break for those two World Cups was disappointing. In Kalmthout, I had a bad start, then a bad crash in the last lap where there was nothing I could do to make up spots. And in Zolder it was a mechanical that took me out of that," said Miller.

    A part of the sole of her shoe came off due to a loosened toe spike in the first lap. It covered her cleat, making it impossible to clip in. She found that out the hard way, on the finishing straight when she attempted to stand up with full force on the pedals only to end up sitting, legs spread, on the top tube of her bike. Once the problem was fixed in the pit, it was too hard to fight back from last place on such a technical course.

    After that race, she awarded herself a proper pity party before getting back on the job. "I went into the RV and had a good cry. I will admit that I had a good breakdown, just let it all out from an entire season. Then I took a couple of days off to rejuvenate, recuperate, recover, rest."

    What got her motivated again was watching a few of the World Cups on video. "Katie was just out killing everybody, and I thought - damn it! I know I am a better rider than this and I don't want to finish the season that way. I was hoping at that point I was still...

  • Van den Abeele annoyed with 'cross Worlds course criticism

    The frozen mud was quite slippery, riders found
    Article published:
    January 29, 2011, 21:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    No TV quads allowed for Sunday's championship races

    On the day before the cyclo-cross world championships, the course in Sankt-Wendel, Germany, was considered to be too dangerous because of the multiple, frozen mud ruts. The UCI decided to flatten out several sections in order to improve the safety of the riders.

    One day into the weekend of racing, there's still plenty of criticism about the course, which has been as slippery as an ice rink. While the sub-surface layer of soil is still frozen, the top layer has softened up, making it tough for the riders to find traction.

    UCI off-road discipline manager Peter Van den Abeele is in charge of the competitive side of the cyclo-cross world championships. A former Belgian cyclo-cross champion, Van den Abeele was annoyed with the criticism concerning the last minute changes that were made to the course.

    "Whatever we do, there will always be guys criticizing it. If we would have left the course like it was, it could have been dangerous for the riders," said Van den Abeele. "Now it turns out that by smoothing out the ruts, the course is very slippery.

    "Some team leaders in the pit area - I won't tell their names - were telling me that it is alright because we're talking about 'cross here. Others are blaming me as it would be a disadvantage for their riders. I choose to stand on the side of all riders," Van den Abeele said.

    One remarkable section of the course is a small, muddy off-camber rise on which dozens of junior riders slipped almost every time past.

    "We didn't do much over there as it looked alright on Friday. But tonight, there have been low temperatures and this morning the sun was shining on that spot with the lack of grip as the outcome," Van den Abeele said.

    The weather conditions may well turn out to be a key factor in this year's world championships. Due to these conditions, the junior men's race was much faster than the under 23 men's race although these riders are typically much stronger.


  • Cyclo-cross hooligans spotted in St. Wendel

    Cold temperatures have frozen the mud on the St. Wendel circuit.
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 11:30 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Course partially damaged overnight

    The organizing committee of the cyclo-cross world championships in St. Wendel, Germany, had to rebuild parts of the course early on Sunday morning after vandals had caused damage overnight. During Sunday's racing action there will be more marshals and assistance from the German police.

    During the first days of worlds the marshals had trouble to keep control of the enthusiastic fans. Several people were spotted neglecting the orders from the marshals and taking positions along the course wherever they wanted to. A corner with Shimano-wiring collapsed under the pressure of fans, which brought back memories to the overcrowded course of the cyclo-cross world championships from Hooglede-Gits in 2007.

    The number of people attending the racing action on Sunday is expected to be much higher than on Saturday. The UCI and the organizing committee are very cautious.

    UCI off-road discipline  manager Peter Van den Abeele was surprised by the behaviour of the fans and explained action would be undertaken in order to prevent problems on Sunday.

    “When we walked parts of the course to check the condition I was surprised when arriving near the so-called 'Villa Belgica' party tent. Lots of course wiring was damaged and poles were pulled out of the ground. Some mobile toilets were pushed on their side. Actually I was feeling ashamed to be a Belgian.

    “The organizers wanted to fix it right away but I told them to wait until Sunday morning because these fans weren't planning to head to bed right away.

    “The organizers are a bit surprised too as they haven't organized a cyclo-cross event in recent years. Since their worlds in 2005 and now the cyclo-cross crowd has changed a lot. But they're reacting well and requested more assistance from the police for Sunday,” Van den Abeele said.

    More than half of the crowds in St. Wendel are coming over from Belgium, more specifically Flanders. It's no secret that a...

  • Cyclo-cross world champion Stybar is man with a plan

    Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 19:22 GMT
    Cycling News

    Czech will combine road with cyclo-cross

    Czech wonder Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) responded to the criticism he had received the past few weeks by answering with his pedals and prolonging his time as cyclo-cross world champion. Stybar dominated the elite men's 'cross world championships in Sankt-Wendel, Germany, on Sunday afternoon and left the opposition green with envy.

    Back in November, Stybar sustained a knee injury which took him out of competition for several weeks. At that time, Stybar had won almost every race and topped the UCI's World Cup rankings after three rounds. The injury forced him to skip the next round of the World Cup in Igorre, Spain.

    "The week before Igorre, I decided to go for Worlds. Skipping [the World Cup round in] Pont-Château was part of the plan. I risked everything in one card. I trained very well in Majorca, and some didn't believe how many hours I trained. The past hour, while riding here on the climbs, I thought about how I suffered in Majorca. I hope I don't have to do it like that every year," Stybar said.

    "There was a lot of pressure from the Czech and Belgian journalists, but I wasn't stressed, not even during the morning of the race. I had more stress for the first race of the year in my hometown of Stribro.

    "They say that winning the world title a first time is the hardest and that a second one comes easier. For me, this was a very special situation because everybody said I had to win," Stybar said.

    The affable Czech highlighted the fact that anything could go wrong in a one-day race like the world championships. "In life, one hour doesn't mean a lot, but in the next 12 months the past hour will mean so much. At one moment, a supporter almost hit me with a tree branch. I don't know if he...

  • 'Cross season ends on disappointed note for Compton

    Katie Compton (USA) with her silver medal
    Article published:
    January 30, 2011, 20:45 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Course, Vos out of Compton's control

    Katie Compton headed into the elite women's cyclo-cross world championship race in Sankt-Wendel, Germany, undefeated in all the important 'cross races she had done this season. She approached the race with the goal of becoming the new world champion. However, the seven-time US 'cross national champion was left behind on the last lap by Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and finished second.

    "There are no regrets because I did everything I could. Marianne had more punch in the final lap and went on the hill," said Compton. "I told myself to get on her wheel, but just couldn't follow her. I had good legs and felt pretty good, but since the world championships were my biggest goal, it means that is a tough day for me.

    "I'm going to start drinking now," Compton joked.

    As Compton wracked up wins all season, she emphasized that only one race mattered: Worlds. Since 2007, Compton has typically started Worlds as a favorite, but she's never won the rainbow jersey.

    This year, she hoped it would be different with less time away from home. "Traveling isn't as hard as it used to be. I have good medication now," Compton said.

    However, one factor was out of her control, and it was the course. During the weekend, temperatures in Sankt-Wendel went far below freezing, making the sub-surface soil hard as a rock. The sunny weather softened the top layer, but not enough according to Compton.

    "Sure it is a hard course, but only as hard as a fast race can be. More mud would have benefited me because you need more power," said Compton. "I need a course with sand and mud although I realize that during the world championships weekend, it's often freezing.

    "Next year in Koksijde, there's a lot of sand, and I can guarantee that it's a course I like a lot," Compton said.

    This season she demolished the opposition in Koksijde...

  • Walsleben rides away with €1000 at Gazet van Antwerpen

    German champion Philipp Walsleben (BKCP Powerplus) up with the leaders.
    Article published:
    February 05, 2011, 19:37 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    German champion changes tactics to take prize for fastest lap

    Philipp Walsleben was the surprise winner of the fastest lap competition at the Gazet van Antwerpen Trophy, taking home 1000 Euro for his efforts. The German champion eventually finished down in twentieth position.

    “It's great to see that a plan works out well,” Walsleben said.

    During the previous rounds of the Belgian cyclo-cross series the usual suspects captured the cheque but for the first time it was an unfamiliar face who clocked the fastest lap.

    There was a mix of confusion and surprise in the press room after the fourth lap when the computer indicated that Walsleben had clocked the fastest lap. Up until that moment Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) held the lead and it was expected someone like eventual winner Kevin Pauwels (Telenet-Fidea) or world champion Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) would push Wellens off his throne.

    First the organizers thought the computer had made a mistake. Suddenly it was said Walsleben was even out of the race but eventually it turned out that no mistakes were made. Because of his record lap time the German champion was welcomed on to the podium where he received a 1000 Euro cheque from sponsor Belgacom.

    The start of Walsleben's race was ruined when his derailleur broke off. The German champion realised he no longer had a chance of a good result and switched objectives.

    “I knew the big guns would not be riding any faster. The headwind on the finishing straight would always take back the speed in the leaders group. I figured that I had to give it a try early on in the race because otherwise I would lose too much energy. I saved some energy and let the others go until I had no more traffic ahead of me. In the fourth lap I went for it. I rode the whole lap on my own and at the end of my flying lap I passed Stijn Huys. I was so tired of my effort that little later he passed me again and took five seconds on me,” Walsleben told Cyclingnews.