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Cyclo-cross News & Racing Round-up, Saturday, January 29, 2011

Date published:
January 29, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Van Paassen wins cyclo-cross World Cup

    Sanne Van Paassen is the World Cup winner for 2010-2011.
    Article published:
    January 24, 2011, 18:08 GMT
    Brecht Decaluwé

    Compton captured five rounds, finishes as runner-up

    After a season of consistent racing, including one World Cup victory, Dutch rider Sanne van Paassen (Brainwash) captured the overall title for the UCI cyclo-cross World Cup on Sunday afternoon.

    Van Paassen won the Plzen, Czech Republic round in October and finished among the top-four in each of the six other World Cup events. This achievement led her to a total of 310 World Cup points, 10 more than runner-up Katie Compton who won all five World Cup rounds she competed in.

    "I'm very proud of winning the World Cup. Top-level sport is all about making choices," Van Paassen said. "After the national championships, I was ill but nevertheless I decided to race in Pont-Château. I made a good decision there.

    "Winning the World Cup round in Plzen was a first victory but this overall win shows that I'm consistent. My new team supports me very well and they give me the opportunity to do training camps. Hopefully I'll make a big step forward next year."

    For Compton the win in Hoogerheide during the World Cup finale left her with mixed feelings. In order to reduce the high amount of travelling which Compton finds hard to adapt to the seven-time US champion decided to skip two World Cup rounds. "This season there's one goal and that's the world championships in Sankt-Wendel," Compton said. "It's a choice we made but it brings along quite a lot of pressure to pull off the win in Sankt-Wendel."

    After the race in Hoogerheide, Compton took a glance at the scoreboard of the World Cup. In hindsight it turns out that a 21st place in one of the two World Cup rounds she skipped would have handed Compton the overall victory. "I wish I would travel easier," Compton said.

  • Stybar signs with Quick Step

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet Fidea)
    Article published:
    January 25, 2011, 14:37 GMT
    Cycling News

    'Cross world champ to make ProTeam debut in May

    After months of speculation, cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar has joined the Belgian ProTeam Quick Step squad, the team announced today. The 25-year-old Czech signed with Quick Step on Monday, January 24, but will continue with his current team, Telenet-Fidea, through the end of cyclo-cross season. Stybar will officially join Quick Step on March 1 and will make his race debut in May at either the Amgen Tour of California or the Tour of Belgium.

    "Personally it's a dream come true," said Stybar. "I'm very happy and excited to race with team Quick Step, one of the best teams in the world. This is an important step in my professional life that will offer me many opportunities and open doors for me into the professional world. I'm still trying to absorb what's happened.

    "I've won a lot in cyclo-cross, but I really wanted to try this experience. I'm 25 years old, and right now it's time for me to try to understand what I can do on the road. This doesn't mean I'll be quitting 'cross. I love this sport and intend to keep at it. I'm also thrilled for the chance to defend my country's colours in the mountain bike race in the 2012 London Olympics."

    For the moment, however, Stybar is focused on defending his elite men's cyclo-cross world championship on Sunday in St-Wendel, Germany, the site of his first world title in 2005. "I'm going to do my best to win it, for me and Telenet-Fidea team," said Stybar. "I'll never forget the time I spent with this squad. I started with them in 2005, right there in St. Wendel where I became Under 23 world champion, and I'll be ending my experience with them once again in that little German town. I'd love to leave this important prize as a gift to the team and to our sponsors."

    Team manager Patrick Lefevere is pleased to have the Czech rider on the team. "Zdenek is a talented guy whose skills will surely raise the team's...

  • Cyclo-Cross Worlds live on Cyclingnews

    The Dutch women lead the field at the start
    Article published:
    January 27, 2011, 19:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Follow Elite men's and women's races on Sunday

    It is once again time for the International Cycling Union's cyclo-cross world championships, and Cyclingnews will be bringing you live coverage. Join us on Sunday, January 30, for live reports of the elite men's and women's races.

    The action gets underway in St. Wendel, Germany, at 11 a.m. CET for the women's race. The men will follow at 2:00 p.m. CET.

    For the women, many expect the race to be a showdown between Katie Compton and Marianne Vos. The American has dominated the season, but one can never count the young Dutch woman out, especially since she is the defending champion.

    Belgium will look to take back the jersey, which last year went to Zdenek Stybar of the Czech Republic. The top three Belgians including Niels Albert, Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels could well sweep the podium, but if they don't work together, there may be an upset.

  • Kupfernagel seeks fifth 'cross world title on home soil

    German champion Hanka Kupfernagel aims for her fifth 'cross world championship on Sunday in St. Wendel, Germany.
    Article published:
    January 27, 2011, 22:51 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    Sankt Wendel venue site of German champion's third world championship

    This Sunday, German 'cross champion Hanka Kupfernagel (Stevens Racing) will compete in front of her own countrymates at the UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships, held in Sankt Wendel. By standing at the start line, this four-time cyclo-cross world champion will be poised to shape both the race as well as German media.

    "German TV will show the full women's race live, but maybe only 20 minutes in the evening of the men's race," Kupfernagel told Cyclingnews. "I think it's a bit because of me - I won there [in the 2005 world championships].

    "It was the same for the European Championships in Frankfurt [earlier in the season]. I was thinking not to start due to an injury, but then the organizers told me, 'Hanka, if you don't come then the TV is not coming'. I didn't believe them but after they assured me that they were specifically told that if Kupfernagel doesn't start, we don't send a camera crew, then I decided to race.

    "I figured that if it doesn't work out with my injury, I can always stop but at least then the camera crew is already there." She indeed finished the race for a respectable fourth place.

    One would think that this sort of spotlight would add to the stress of racing, but Kupfernagel gladly welcomes it. "They try to make pressure for me, but actually I am proud of the attention that we get," said Kupfernagel. "In Germany, it is especially difficult because we have all these good winter athletes in sports like ski jumping, biathlons and cross country skiing. There's a lot of attention for these sports but they forgot cyclo-cross a little bit. So that's why I am really happy that they show it on TV, and it's good for my sponsors of course."

    When asked what it will feel like to once again compete in Sankt Wendel for the cyclo-cross world championship,...

  • Summerhill takes mellow approach to cyclo-cross worlds

    Danny Summerhill (Garmin Transitions) on the front row
    Article published:
    January 28, 2011, 8:02 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    American set to end under-23 career in St. Wendel

    Ever since winning the silver medal in the 2007 Junior World Cyclo-Cross Championships, US National Under-23 Champion Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Transitions-Team Holowesko Partners ) has been striving to return to that level of success. Possibly just in time for the 2011 World Championships, he may have discovered his lack of success was never about his fitness but rather his state of mind.

    "Ever since I got the medal at Worlds, I've always put so much pressure on myself trying to replicate it. And all that pressure for the whole two weeks leading into Worlds at the euro-camp just killed my legs and my energy. I didn't think that negative or nervous energy could do that much damage but I've gotten on the start line in years past, gone to push down on the pedals and had nothing. My legs were just rocks," explained Summerhill.

    But this year, he's taken a completely new approach to European racing, specifically regarding his lead-in to the big event. "I am mellow and relaxed in comparison to what I usually am. High stressed to the max is what it usually looks like around my little area," laughs Summerhill.

    Zolder World Cup last month was his first application of his newfound approach of ‘Mister Mellow'. "I tried not to stress too much – whatever happened, happened. And I got 13th which was fun! The same went for Hoogerheide. Even though it wasn't the placing I think I could have gotten, it was nice to see that I was able to claw back up into the teens after a bad start."

    In line with his relaxed approach to race preparation, this year he set himself up in a completely different housing situation. "This year, I am staying out of the general scene up until Wednesday. Meredith [Miller], Cody [Kaiser] and I have our own place. It's nice because it's a lot less people to bounce around with in the morning compared to the US Cycling house [in Belgium where the rest of the National Team resides] where it gets pretty...

  • Muddy Worlds course good for Belgians

    Belgium's Niels Albert leads US U23 team member Zack McDonald on a Worlds course recon.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2011, 8:52 GMT
    Cycling News

    Photo gallery: Nys, Albert and company arrive in St. Wendel

    Lots of mud in Sankt Wendel, Germany, would be good for the Belgians at the UCI cyclo-cross world championships this weekend, according to the national coach.

    Belgian national coach Rudy De Bie checked out the course. “There is a lot of water,” he told “That makes it pretty muddy in some places. Really great for us Belgians as it is now.

    “But it may well change. For the weekend, they are calling for heavy freezes. If that happens, the conditions will be different. On a fast track, we will have fast races, but if the sun comes out, it may be quite slippery in the afternoon. Wait and see.”

    The current weather forecast calls for overnight temperatures of -4° to -5° C over the weekend, with sun and highs of 1° C.

    Belgium, which has won eight of the last ten world titles, is again sending the favourites to the race. Niels Albert has had a stellar season in which he stands atop the UCI rankings, won three World Cup rounds en route to the overall title and captured his first Belgian elite national championship. Sven Nys, who won his one elite world championship in Sankt Wendel in 2005, can never be counted out, particularly in muddy conditions, and Kevin Pauwels has come on strong at the end of a consistent season.

  • Stybar picks Nys to win on muddy 'cross Worlds course

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet-Fidea) was beaten by Nys for the final podium spot
    Article published:
    January 28, 2011, 12:29 GMT
    Cycling News

    Superstitious Czech sees own chance, too

    Defending world champion Zdenek Stybar said the course laid out at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championship in St. Wendel, Germany, “is extremely difficult.” He has picked Belgian Sven Nys as his favourite to take the title.

    After a very muddy ride on the course Thursday, Stybar, of the Czech Republic, told “Oh yes, this is extremely difficult. This is for guys with lots of power,” like Nys.

    If the conditions stay the same, Nys “is the absolute favourite. Thought I think it will change when you see the weather forecast. The frost can change a lot.”

    Nys has not won much this year, but won the Worlds title in St. Wendel in 2005.  His Belgian teammate Niels Albert, who won the title in 2009,  has won three World Cup races and the national title this season.

    "This is certainly something for Niels," Stybar said. "It's a track where you can race as a group for one hour, full gas at the higher gear. He can do that, of course, like no other. But in that very heavy mud, Nys is still the specialist. In any case, a worthy world champion in a heavy 'cross race."

    Stybar not only hopes to win again, but has a reason to think so. He won the U-23 Worlds title in St. Wendel in 2005. "It's a special place. I had just signed with Fidea, now I have just signed for Quick Step. I'm superstitious, yes."

  • Kaiser ready for U23 'cross Worlds debut

    American U23 'cross Worlds team member Cody Kaiser trains on the St. Wendel circuit.
    Article published:
    January 28, 2011, 23:14 GMT
    Christine Vardaros

    American puts years of Euro experience to the test

    American Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant Berry Farms) is showing promise in only his first year in the Under-23 cyclo-cross category. A former Junior national champion in cyclo-cross, Kaiser placed sixth at the US cyclo-cross national championships in the U23 ranks against competitors mostly two years his senior and has been named to the National Team. But while his fitness may be finely tuned for the season's grand finale of the UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships this Saturday, his mental edge for European racing continues to be a work in progress.

    "I never really have the best positive attitude when I'm here in Europe," Kaiser told Cyclingnews. Immediately his US teammate Danny Summerhill jumps in jokingly, "Yeah, he's a homebody. He's a single child, he's coddled." Laughter fills their mobile home. Kaiser corrects him, explaining, "I don't get homesick, but rather I think to myself, 'wow, these guys are not as cool as they are in the United States'. At the races, it feels like once they see that you're an American, they give you the cold shoulder.

    "And when you're out pre-riding and checking the course out they have no problem with practically running you over. They can go around you but they tend to skim your shoulders. What's another foot gonna do for you. They simply don't respect your space."

    Over the last three years that Kaiser has been traveling to Europe, he may still not completely understand the European style of playing with others, but he surely has made progress in dealing with it. "The very first time I came to camp three years ago, it was an eye-opener. [Their riding style] was definitely starting to affect my racing. I always tend to be tentative so I'd back off when they push.