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Cyclo-cross news & racing round-up, Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Date published:
December 23, 2009, 0:00 GMT
  • USA Cycling makes first selections for 'cross Worlds

    Katie Compton (Planet Bike) wins a record setting six championships in a row.
    Article published:
    December 17, 2009, 19:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Elite women's, U23 men's and Junior men's teams named

    The first round of nominations to the United States National Team for the 2010 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic, Jan. 30-31 was announced today by USA Cycling.

    Five athletes were named to each of the Elite women’s, U23 men’s and Junior men’s squads based on competitive performances over the course of the last year.

    After capturing her sixth consecutive US cyclo-cross national title and winning a pair of World Cups this season, Katie Compton (Planet Bike) received an automatic nomination and will lead the Elite women’s squad. Compton is currently the top-ranked female in the International Cycling Union's (UCI) world standings ahead of Dutchwomen Daphny Van Den Brand and reigning world champion Marianne Vos. Compton also tops the World Cup standings in front of Van Den Brand and Sanne van Paassen.

    After her silver-medal-performance at the world championships in 2006 and her bronze-medal ride in 2009, the 31-year-old Compton is not only an automatic qualifier to the squad, but will be the favorite heading into Tabor.

    Amy Dombroski (Schalmm p/b Primus Mootry) accumulated the most points in five out of the six US qualification races and is another automatic qualifier for the Elite women’s squad. The 22-year-old finished third at the recent US cyclo-cross national championships, fifth in the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Calendar standings and second in the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series.

    Discretionary nominations to the Elite women’s team went to national championship silver medalist Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized), Laura Van Gilder (C3-Sollay) and Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles).

    In the U23 men’s division, 2007 junior world championship silver medalist Danny Summerhill (Garmin-Felt) earned the only automatic nomination to the team with his victory at the US national cyclo-cross championships.

  • UCI wants one cyclo-cross race-free weekend monthly in Belgium

    A set of stairs at the cyclo-cross World Cup in Hamme Zogge.
    Article published:
    December 18, 2009, 15:24 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    Organisers in other countries say there are too many Belgian races

    There are too many cyclo-cross races in Belgium, according to other countries and the International Cycling Union (UCI). The world governing body of cycling has proposed that at least one weekend per month in the country should be free of 'cross events.

    “Foreign organisers believe that the international calendar is overwhelmed by Belgium,” said UCI co-ordinator Peter Van den Abeele to Het Laatste Nieuws. "This takes away from the sport in other countries. Belgian organisers have the money to attract the top riders. Then the top riders don't ride at home, so that the sport receives little attention.”

    Van den Abeele said that he wanted to intervene, and had a plan. “I think that one weekend a month should be kept free from 'cross races in Belgium. On that 'cross-free' weekend, riders can go to other countries.”

    He had a warning for the Belgians, too. “Now they have it all. But it was like that 15 years ago in Switzerland, too. When the Belgians wanted to, they could go each week to Zürich and its surroundings. Look at what they have now. Things can change quickly.”

  • Remembering US Cyclo-cross Nationals

    Tim Johnson ( descending in third place.
    Article published:
    December 18, 2009, 19:42 GMT
    Cycling News

    Photographer Dave McElwaine shares his 'cross nats photos

    The mud and snow are barely cleaned from the jerseys and bikes of the thousands who raced at the US Cyclo-cross National Championships last weekend in Bend, Oregon. And the memories are still fresh in the minds of all who attended, including photographer Dave McElwaine, who provided many of the images of the championships seen on Cyclingnews.

    "It was the best cyclo-cross national championships that I've ever been to. USAC should be really proud," said McElwaine to Cyclingnews. "The town of Bend turned out to be the perfect blend of location and weather. The town itself was great... We had an ideal setup, the crowds were enormous, the course was fantastic and the conditions were epic."

    Relive the fun by checking out McElwaine's favorite photos. Links to complete galleries of photos, many yet unpublished, can be found for the elite, collegiate, juniors, masters and singlespeed races.

    McElwaine described the buzz that surrounded the race and racers who turned up in droves. "Racers loved it and can't wait to go back. I feel the same way."

    Fortunately, everyone will have that chance. In 2010, cyclo-cross nationals return to Bend on December 9-12.

  • Wyman takes aim at World Championship glory

    Helen Wyman (Kona) in the lead.
    Article published:
    December 19, 2009, 18:07 GMT
    Richard Tyler

    British cyclo-cross champion's 'second' season off to flying start

    Kona-FSA's Helen Wyman will head into the first of two World Cup Cyclo-Cross rounds on Sunday brimming with confidence after a strong start to what she describes a the 'second of two seasons' this year. A winner of races in Italy and Switzerland in the last three weeks, the 28-year-old Briton has begun her charge towards her major objective of the year, the World Championships.

    Wyman's first objective of the season had been the European Championships in Hoogstraten, where she finished second to Cyclo-cross World Champion Marianne Vos. The path to that result has also led to second place overall in the GvA Trofee, six points behind Czech rival Pavla Havlikova, however, as Wyman told Cyclingnews it was the European result that marked an important step in her career.

    "I'm obviously really happy with the European Championship results and it's taken me a while to get back to that place again, so that's really good," said Wyman. "There's quite an important series, the Gazet van Antwerpen series and currently I'm second in that, so that's been quite a good focus for me this year, whereas previously I've done really well in World Cups but not so well in smaller races."

    The secret to her success this year has been splitting her season into two halves, one ending with a peak for the European Championships followed by a break before working toward a second peak for Worlds.

    "We've kind of broken the season down a bit more this year and split it into two seasons. The first season, at the end of it, I went on a training camp in Portugal so I had a break where I didn't race at the weekend. The second season is a bit longer; it goes all the way to the end of February.

    "I've always been really good at riding consistently throughout the season, but this year we tried to peak for the European Championships and actually achieved it. Whereas in previous seasons it's almost been a peak, but not really – it's always been...

  • Albert, Stybar tied in World Cup standings

    Zdenek Stybar (Telenet Fidea)
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 20:32 GMT
    Cycling News

    Compton holds onto lead in women's series

    Zdenek Stybar pulled himself equal on points with Niels Albert at the top of the UCI's Cyclo-cross World Cup rankings with a second place finish in Kalmthout on Sunday. However, the Czech champion will not get to pull on the series leader's white jersey for the next contest in Zolder this week as Albert leads in the number of World Cup wins this season, 3-2.

    Missing out on his chance to lead the series was a bitter defeat for Stybar, who led the snowy race in Kalmthout at the mid-way point only to see the return of Sven Nys on the penultimate lap. Stybar failed to keep Nys at bay, and was not even able to profit from the Belgian champion's fall with less than half a lap to go.

    "I cannot be satisfied," said Stybar to "Despite a bad start I was still able to the lead halfway and get a gap, but in the last two laps I made too many mistakes. I should have switched to a bike with different tires. I did the whole race on tires with a low profile and in the final laps it was no longer the ideal choice."

    The difference between the top three at the finish line was mere seconds, with each feeling as if they could have won the race. Albert was also unsatisfied after the event, since the snow left riders with one narrow track and no place to pass.

    "I was certainly one of the fastest rider on the course in the final laps, but overtaking was so difficult with only a narrow path that was passable," said Albert.

    "The differences were very small - we could have stood in any order on the podium."

    The closeness in abilities is well reflected in the World Cup standings, where Albert sits tied with Stybar at 435 points after six rounds, with Nys moving up into third ahead of Klaas Vantornout with 350 points.

    In the women's race, Daphny Van den Brand closed the gap to World Cup leader Katie Compton with her victory on Sunday, and now sits just 10 points behind with 200 points. Marianne Vos, who claimed...

  • Dunlap 90 percent satisfied with cyclo-cross comeback

    Alison Dunlap (Luna Pro Team) is a five-time national 'cross champion.
    Article published:
    December 21, 2009, 21:29 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Former mountain bike world champ uncertain about future racing

    While many cyclists were following the comeback of Lance Armstrong in 2009, another former World Champion was making her own comeback. After four years away from racing, Alison Dunlap decided to return to elite competition with a focus on cyclo-cross. She was first spotted at US Mountain Bike Nationals in July racing the short track in order to prepare for the 'cross season.

    "I had a blast and it was super fun, but it was a lot harder than I thought it would be to be competitive," said the 40-year-old Dunlap, looking back on the last six months. "It shows that the women's fields have gotten faster and stronger. It was a great challenge."

    Deciding to comeback wasn't easy, especially for someone with a competitive spirit like Dunlap. "My big concern was that I'd come back and not do well. I trained really, really hard because I didn't want that to happen."

    "I worked harder than I ever remember training, but I probably forgot a lot of things I used to do," she said. "It was great to race again. I had positive feedback from everyone. I didn't feel like I was making a fool of myself or wasting my time."

    Dunlap said it wasn't just the tougher competition that challenged her, but the amount of time she had spent away from elite racing. "I was away for four years. If I came back to race ultra endurance mountain bike races, it'd be different, but I came back to race super-intense races. While I did a lot of long, hard mountain bike rides in recent years, I hadn't been going out to do anaerobic intervals. to get that back was especially hard. I hadn't trained that system for a long time."

    The best part of being back was the excitement. "Getting to see my friends and the crowds - both were great. Winning a race and getting on the podium is in my blood. I missed that excitement."

    A little over a week after the US Cyclo-cross National Championships, where Dunlap placed fourth, we asked her the verdict on her...

  • De Bie concerned about Belgium's 'cross future

    Nys leads Albert on a loop of the stairs
    Article published:
    December 22, 2009, 11:45 GMT
    Susan Westemeyer

    National coach fears departure of Nys and Albert could end Belgian dominance

    Belgium's national cyclo-cross coach, Rudi De Bie, says the country could relinquish its dominance of the disipline if both Sven Nys and Niels Albert leave to follow other objectives. Di Bie telling Het Laatste Nieuws, “There is no great new talent coming along.”

    Nys, 33, who won the snowy World Cup round in Kalmthout last weekend, wants to start concentrating on road racing next year. Current World Champion and World Cup leader Albert, 23, is considering a switch to mountain biking with an eye to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, as well as riding on the road.

    “It would be very unfortunate if Niels actually leaves,” said De Bie. “We would then lose the near-certainty of victory. I see no one with the super talent of Nys and Albert. Foreign riders will then be well placed to take more wins.”

    Future Belgian winners might include Kevin Pauwels, Klaas Vantornout, and Bart Aernouts, De Bie said, noting however, that they are “good 'crossers, but not big winners.”

    Some younger riders to keep an eye on are Tom Meeusen, Vincent Bastaens, Jim Aernouts and Joeri Adams, “a quartet with potential, that can go far with hard work, but they don't have the raw talent of Nys and Albert.”

    According to Di Bie, fewer wins would mean less popularity for the sport as well,  “The public is only interested in real winners,” he said.

    De Bie stated his hope that Albert's prospective disipline switch would remain hypothetical. “Let us hope that this is one of Albert's typical statements and that we do not see him leave,” De Bie said, adding, “Of course he may dream of winning the Giro di Lombardia, but it is a different story to realise that dream.”

  • Eckmann takes second place in Middelkerke

    Junior national champions David Kessler, Yannick Eckmann and Michael Dessau.
    Article published:
    December 23, 2009, 21:55 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Euro 'Cross Campers shine just days before Zolder World Cup

    Euro 'Cross Camper Yannick Eckmann (Clif Bar Development Team) scored a second place behind Belgian Gianni Vermeersch at the Noordzeecross in Middelkerke, Belgium, on Wednesday. Eckmann's performance bodes well just days before the Campers will take on the next Cyclo-cross World Cup in Zolder.

    "It was a tough, hard race with a very fun course," said Eckmann to Cyclingnews. "I had a good start and found myself chasing the eventual winner. Then we were together, and I attacked a few times.

    "But the level is very high here and I didn't get away. I need to work on my accelerations out of the corners. I'm good coming in to the turns, but coming out, it's all about acceleration." Eckmann is a German residing in Boulder, Colorado. He is expected to earn his US citizenship in time to race as an Under 23.

    Riders who are part of the Euro 'Cross Camp are presently spending up to two weeks in Europe getting a taste of international 'cross racing. The performance of Eckmann and the other riders is making camp director Geoff Proctor proud.

    "It was a good first effort for some of our juniors like Skyler Trujillo (Black Sheep Jr. Cycling), Chris Wallace, and Joshua Lehmann, and a strong effort for Yannick and David Kessler (11th). Yannick rode a very smart race, outriding and outwitting two of the four in the lead group," said Proctor to Cyclingnews. It takes awhile to adjust to the racing here, and I'm encouraged by where our juniors are right now. [They are] building the confidence for Saturday's World Cup."

    Among the elite riders, alumni campers Jeremy Powers and James Driscoll (both rode in the first and then the second group, too. "It was great to see," said Proctor. "And Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) had a decent race [He finished eighth. - ed.]."

    Not every racer was putting it all on the line though. "Danny Summerhill had more of a training kinds of a race day, but...