The Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross Team is set to begin its sixth season this month, and it's looking to build not only on its past racing success but to continue to raise awareness about important environmental issues. First-year elite racer Colin Cares, who is also the US National Under 23 cross country mountain bike champion, will team up with veteran Under 23 racer Alex Howes to lead the squad. Howes has been with the program since its first year in 2004.
The team has several returning and first-year under 23 riders, and many promising juniors ranging from 14- to 18-years-old. Racers will focus on the US Gran Prix Series, Boulder Racing Series, New England Championship Series, Bay Area Super Prestige Series, and the New York State Series - before ending the season with the US Nationals.
Among several climate awareness initiatives, the team will measure its carbon footprint, track it and work on ways to reduce it; partner with ClimateCounts.org to bring consumers and companies together in the fight against global climate change; support the United Nations Climate Change Conference happening in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the same time as US Nationals; and lend support to 350.org, which is working to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 ppm.
2009-2010 Clif Bar Development Team
Elite Colin Cares
Under 23 Andrew Barker Alex Howes Cody Cox Conor Mullervy Kevin Mullervy Mitchell Hoke Russell Finsterwald
Junior Bjorn Fox Curtis White Danny Hiller David Kessler Nate Morse Robin Eckmann Yannick Eckmann Zack Gould Zane Godby
Taking a slower start for 'cross after full road season
Jeremy Powers may have come out swinging with a spectacular come-from-behind second place in the season opening Star Crossed race in Washington last weekend, but will be turning down the burners to save gas for the US national championships and cyclo-cross World Championships.
Having just come off a full road season with the Jelly Belly team, Powers, racing 'cross for Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, said the US national championship is his "ultimate goal" for the 'cross season. His top finish in the championship at the elite level was a fifth place in 2006 and a second as a U23.
"I'm almost putting everything on Nationals. I don't have any other strong aspirations. I'm keeping my commitment to the NACT and USGP [series] to a lower level - I'm trying to focus on December and then the world championships. That's the Olympics of 'cross, so I want to do well," Powers told Cyclingnews at CrossVegas.
Powers learned his lesson last season after having a successful US season, a good start to his European campaign, but then a disappointing finale at Worlds.
"I think last year I realized I was tired when I got there [to Worlds]. I put it together for the early races - had some of the best results I've had in Europe. Loenhout was really good, and I got 7th at a C1 on the coast in Belgium].
"So that was awesome, but after January and we had to do a [road] training camp, and things slowed down racing-wise for us because Europe had its national championships, I felt burnt. I felt I could take a break instead of going into Worlds."
"This year I'm hoping to come into February 1st cookin'."
Six-time national champ remains ambitious but realistic
Alison Dunlap retired from professional mountain biking in 2005, remembered as one of America's brightest talents after delivering her country a world title in that discipline of the sport. Now she is back to take on the US national cyclo-cross scene and gunning for top spot at the national championships held in Bend, Oregon in December.
"I knew I didn't want to make the commitment to race elite mountain bike again," Dunlap told Cyclingnews. "It was a good option for 'cross because it's a shorter season, the training commitment is less with only 40-minute races. Plus, cross is just fun, with good crowds and fun venues. I thought it would be a great way to come back."
After more than a decade of mountain biking, Dunlap announced her plans to retire at the top of her game, a few years prior having won the UCI cross country world championships in 2001 followed by two World Cup victories and two summer Olympic debuts.
Asked why she decided to pack it in, Dunlap replied, "I was just tired of the travel, the structure and the regimented training. There's a lot of stress trying to ride all the courses at the world cup level, that was scary," she explained. "As you get older you get less tolerant of dangerous descents. I got tired of that stress and was ready to not be a bike racer."
Four years later Dunlap has recently celebrated her 40th birthday and decided to return to professional cycling, down the less bumpy path of cyclo-cross. She is no stranger to the sport, having won the US national championship on six occasions. She jumped into the North American Cyclo-cross Trophy (NACT) series at the Star Crossed and Rad Racing events held in Seattle, Washington, last weekend, and it was no surprise to see her back on the podium.
"My fitness was right where I expected it to be for the beginning of the season, I'm happy with that," said Dunlap. "My bike handling skills are going to get better - I'm still a little rusty with handling...
A strong elite field, led by three-time Danish national champion Joachim Parbo and defending New England Cyclo-cross Series (NECCS) women's champion Rebecca Wellons, are among the more than 350 racers who are expected to head north for the opening weekend of the NECCS in Williston, Vermont, on September 26-27. The race is the first of three consecutive weekends of cyclo-cross in a region of the US where the discipline is very popular.
Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) has raced in the United States before and held his own against the best that the US has to offer; but he will have to work hard for the win with the likes of veteran Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart), Justin Spinelli (Svelte Cycles), Canadian stalwart Derrick St. John (Garneau Club Chaussure Ogilvy), New York native and last year's race runner-up Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs/RGM Watches/Radix), and local powerhouse Josh Dillon (Richard Sachs/RGM Watches/Radix) in the field.
The three-plus-kilometer parcours at the Catamount Family Center is a uniquelly challenging course in its climbing and technical sections. Look for the next generation of top riders to turn some heads, too. Riders like Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/IF), Alec Donahue (NCC/Cycle-Smart), Tyler Wren (Colavita/Sutter Home), and Dillon will be looking for their first podium place of the northeast UCI campaign.
The women's field will be battle of some of the best talent the region has available. Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) makes her debut in Vermont having come off of a win in last week’s Nittany Lion Cross race in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, but will have her hands full with the nature of the course and the competition, including Wellons, who is expected to race after competing in a criterium in Boston, Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussure Ogilvy), Charm City Cross and former NECCS series winner Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing), and Anna Milkowski (Bikereg.com/Joe’s...
Two weeks in to the North American cyclo-cross season Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) leads the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Racing Calendar standings while Maureen Bruno-Roy (M&M Racing-Seven Cycles) and Katie Compton (Stevens) are tied for the women’s lead. To date nine events have been contested of the 42 race calendar, with action over the past week including CrossVegas and the Planet Bike Cups.
Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) and Compton won the CrossVegas races in front of several thousand fans, while Compton went on to record a pair of victories at the Planet Bike Cups in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) took the first men’s Planet Bike Cup I race while Belgian Erwin Vervecken (Team Revor-Baboco-Champion System) claimed the second event.
Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs-RMG Watches-Radix) and Natasha Elliott (Gurneau) won the Schoolhouse Cyclo-cross in Williston, Vermont. Timmerman also took the win in the second half of the Green Mountain Cyclo-cross weekend while Bruno-Roy took the women's win.
Redemption for Nys at Superprestige? Stybar focussed on home Worlds
Belgium's Niels Albert ensured that the European cyclo-cross season kicked off with a bang on Sunday as he won the first World Cup round on Sunday in Italy. The reigning world champion's dominant performance was in stark contrast to that of Belgian champion Sven Nys, who failed to finish on the Treviso course.
Albert's 42 second victory over Czech rider Zdenek Stybar was a clear indication that he has hit the 2009/2010 cyclo-cross season with excellent condition. Although Albert recovered in time to claim the World Championship in January, much of last season was written off due to a torn spleen, the result of a crash while warming up at the Superprestige round in Gavere, Belgium.
"During the first races of this season I will take advantage of my excellent road form, which I hope will allow me to take a big step forward this season" Albert told Cyclingnews. "Since my crash I've been taking an even more professional approach to my racing."
While Albert's reputation has been bolstered his success Treviso, the man expected to be his biggest challenger this season, Sven Nys, finds himself 80 points behind the 23-year-old in the race for the overall World Cup title. It looks likely that Nys will instead focus his efforts on a tenth overall Superprestige title when the series gets underway at Ruddervoorde, Belgium, next weekend.
"I would really like to have 10 overall [Superprestige] victories, but I still have some years to accomplish that feat. I'm not the one-day champion that Roland Liboton [5 time World Champion and 10 time Belgian Champion] is, but I am the champion of consistency," Nys told Cyclingnews.
"With the competition from Albert, winning won't be easy, but I think that I can give him a hard time," he said. "Pulling away from him during a race doesn't seem possible nowadays, but he won't pull away...
Telenet-Fidea rider to remain off the bike whilst he recovers from virus
Telenet-Fidea's Bart Wellens confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will miss the first half of the cyclo-cross season as he continues his recovery from cytomegalovirus (HCMV).
The 31-year-old was diagnosed with the virus, which exhibits symptoms similar to those of glandular fever, three weeks ago. He stopped training immediately and will concentrate on his recovery before resuming his 'cross season later in the year.
"I'm not feeling ill; that's the main problem, I'm just tired all the time," Wellens told Cyclingnews. "At first we thought it was because of the altitude training we did, but when I was dropped by a group of 70-year-olds I knew something wasn't normal. I've got a blood-borne virus and I've been doing completely nothing for three weeks now."
In spite of a period of forced convalescence, Wellens will remain visible at races throughout the season. "I'll be the guest commentator during the races which is nice because it keeps me in the cyclo-cross world. But mentally it's very hard because now you want to be out racing your bike."
Sunweb Pro Job rider refutes rumours of rift with cousin
Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb Pro Job) opened his World Cup campaign with a 16th place finish in Treviso on Sunday. The Belgian has come into the current cyclo-cross season confident that it will be one of his best years in the sport. Vanthourenhout has also denied rumours of a rift between himself and cousin Dieter Vanthourenhout.
Sven Vanthourenhout has had consistent top-five overall finishes in the Superprestige series of recent years, but has failed to live up to the expectation that surrounded him early in his career. However, the 28-year-old told Cyclingnews that he has approached this season with a renewed focus.
"I've had a very good road season. In contrast to recent years I've been riding those races more as a cyclo-cross rider, instead of considering it as a specific goal," he said. "I'm starting this season stronger than other years and hopefully it will be visible during the next few months."
Vanthourenhout looked to have got off to a rocky start last month at the Vlaamse Houtlandcross in Eernegem, Belgium. He claimed second place behind Neils Albert (BKCP-Powerplus), but collided with cousin Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) in the sprint for the line.
Dieter was injured in the crash and the incident fuelled speculation of a rift between the two. Sven denied any suggestion of animosity between the cousins. "I don't want to comment too much on this. We talked with each other about it. I rode my sprint and he tried to get through a gap that wasn't there. Anyway, he told me he would be fine pretty soon and that's the most important thing," he said.
Both riders completed the opening round of the World Cup in Treviso. Dieter Vanthourenhout finished in 30th place, 2:29 down on his BKCP-Powerplus teammate and race winner Niels Albert.
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