Manager quick to confirm 'cross World Champ will remain in discipline
An emotional Niels Albert threatened to quit cyclo-cross for the road after a race incident at the Jaarmarktcross in Niel, Belgium. The cyclo-cross World Champion's comments came after he had been jeered by supporters of eventual race winner Sven Nys after he appeared to cut-off Nys on a climb, three laps from the finish.
"It is not fun anymore. I might be better on the road start," said Albert, according to HLN.be. "I don't understand the reaction of the audience, I just lost my balance. If I bothered Nys, it was certainly not intentional, but the public reacted immediately. Now I understand how Lars Boom felt when he was booed. Maybe, like Boom, I would be better to further develop my career on the road instead of cyclo-cross."
Albert's manager Christophe Roodhooft was quick to temper his client's comments and denied that he will trade his knobbly tyres for slicks any time soon. Roodhooft attributed 23-year-old Albert's post-race reaction down to his relative inexperience.
"He's not going to race on the road yet," Roodhooft told Sporza. "Of course Niels has racing skills, but he needs to get used to the environment. Last year, it was a case of 'little' Albert against the 'big' Nys.
"Nys has built a huge number of fans over many years and Niels will have to live with them. But I hope that Nys' supporters will not use their energy to boo other riders in the future."
Bart Wellens, who himself has endured the wrath of Nys' fans throughout his career, echoed Roodhooft's comments about Albert's experience of the partisan crowds that flock to the Belgian cyclo-cross scene.
"It was just bad luck for that so many of Nys' fans were at that location. The reality is that Nys still has more fans than Albert.
"I have often said to Niels, 'do not respond and just continue riding'. It can only be put down to his...
American team morphs into Team Plan C Cyclo-cross / Stevens
The Ridley Factory Team is morphing into the Team Plan C Cyclo-cross / Stevens effective immediately. The seven-year-old cyclo-cross development team is switching its title sponsorship from Ridley to Stevens.
"The decision was clear," Paul Schoening, Director of Plan C Marketing, told Cyclingnews after the team evaluated its options and decided on the new partnership.
The deal with Stevens Bicycles of Germany will manifest itself in full for the 2010-2011 season, when all team riders will be riding Stevens Bikes.
In the mean time two of the team's elite riders will transition immediately to bikes provided by the new sponsor. Rebecca Wellons and David Hackworthy won't have much time to make the switch as they make their racing debut with the new rigs at this weekend's United States Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross round in Mercer, New Jersey.
Stevens already sponsors World Cup winners Katie Compton and Niels Albert, both of whom race for other teams.
Lam faces lengthy recovery after being hit by rider in sprint
USA Cycling Official Harry Lam is facing a long recovery after being severely injured at a cyclo-cross event last Saturday in Massachusetts. Lam was accidentally struck by a rider sprinting to the finish line and suffered a broken nose and a head injury.
Lam spent 24 hours in a medically-induced coma, but improved enough to be released from the hospital on Thursday. He will be taken to Virginia where he has extended family as it will be weeks before he is cleared to fly to his Salt Lake City, Utah home.
"There are a lot of difficulties ahead for Harry and his family, between medical expenses, separation from the family, no work, etc," said fellow official Randy Shafer.
"The New England Bicycle Racing Association (NEBRA) and other officials around the country have been working to set up a fund to assist Harry and his family. Today, NEBRA has worked with BikeReg.com to set up a donation fund for Harry, his family and medical expenses. Let's give generously and get him back up, home and working again!"
Serious crash last year has made him 'more fanatical'
On Sunday, when Niels Albert makes his first warm-up ride at the Super Prestige cyclo-cross race in Gavere, Belgium, he will stop and have a long look at one specific tree. “That place means something to my life,” he said. The tree almost took his life during the warm-up last year at the race.
Albert was leading the Super-Prestige series in 2008 prior to the crash. At first he thought he was not seriously injured, but a visit to hospital revealed a ruptured spleen. He remained in bed for three days and could not exercise for additional six weeks.
"I'm putting more things into perspective. In one hour's time I plummeted from the top of my abilities into a deep valley. In one hour, right? That's nothing in a lifetime! Something like that makes you realise that happiness hangs by a thread," he told Sportwereld.
"It has changed me as a man. Not that I'm happier now, but I enjoy it more: each victory, each good day of training, Even if it is in the pouring rain and I come back frozen stiff.”
Since then, he said, he is much more fanatical about the sport, paying much more attention to the details than before. “I trained hard, but did not really know exactly what I was doing. And I should be very happy that I can do that now.”
Albert, 23, returned quickly to the top. He won again the beginning of January, before claiming the world title in February.
Race winner Albert says luck was on his side, Nys rues missed opportunity after late-race puncture
Niels Albert has declared himself fortunate to have emerged victor of the Superprestige Gavere, in Belgium on Sunday. Albert was successful in the latest round of his see-saw cyclo-cross battle with compatriot Sven Nys, but afterwards attributed his victory to his rival's misfortune.
Nys's chances of victory crumbed on the penultimate lap of the race as he suffered a rear wheel puncture. His bad luck saw Albert ride solo to the line and claim the outright lead in the overall Superprestige series. Albert said afterwards that Nys had been the stronger of the two throughout the race.
"Sven was indeed the better today, but luck is also part of cyclo-cross," said Albert, according to Sporza. "I was lucky Sven punctured, but that's part of cyclo-cross and it could happen to me next time."
Twelve months earlier, Albert had crashed during a warm-up for the same race. A torn spleen suffered in the crash saw him miss much of last season and he acknowledged that the incident had been on his mind throughout this year's event.
"On the descents Sven was technically better than me. I often thought back to last year, when I fell and tore my spleen. For most of the race today I was riding downhill in terror, but this victory is a boost for my confidence."
For Nys, the puncture put paid to his hopes of securing another victory over his younger opponent. The winner of the race a year earlier, Nys had worked hard to get back on terms with Albert through the middle sector of the race.
"I tried to hide my flat tire, but when Niels saw it, I was in trouble. He had a big lead right at the climb; that was deadly, especially after my long chase," Nys told Sporza.
"I had some strength left in the legs for something to try in the closing stages, but it never happened. It's very unfortunate, a missed opportunity."
Professional mountain biker Georgia Gould (Team Luna) has taken a laid back approach to competitive cyclo-cross by turning up the fun factor during the 2009-2010 season in the United States of America. However lessening the pressure to win has not kept her off the podium in some of the nation’s most prestigious events.
“This year I’m going to try and take a little more time and give my body a rest,” said Gould. “I am having fun. I love racing cross and I didn’t want it to be miserable. I took the pressure off and that doesn’t mean I’m not trying hard. I still try hard, I’m just not holding myself to the standard of having to win.”
Mountain biking is Gould’s bread-and-butter but0 she uses cyclo-cross as a way to stay fit and healthy during the off season. Gould is no slouch on the ’cross bike, having won the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-Cross series overall title in 2008 and the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series’ heavy weight belt in 2009. In the spring and summer months, she races through fully loaded mountain bike schedule that included the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) World Cup series and the majority of US national series events.
During the past two years, Gould has ended her mountain bike season in September and transitioned to the cyclo-cross with little time to recover. This year she made the decision to step back from racing cyclo-cross under pressure and putting the emphasis on recovery, cross-training and having a good time.
“It’s hard and it definitely takes a toll racing year round, which is what I’ve done in the last few years,” Gould said. “Mountain biking has always been my focus because that’s my job and cyclo-cross has always been second tier. For the past few years, I’ve been able to do both pretty successfully but I think it takes a lot out of you to race all year round. Coming into...
Timothy Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) continued his charge up USA Cycling’s National Cyclo-cross Racing Calendar rankings with his successful outing at the weekends US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross round in New Jersey at the weekend. Johnson now trails team-mate and standings leader James Driscoll by 42 points, while Jeremy Powers separates the pair just two points ahead of Johnson.
Christopher Jones has also made an upward move in the standings, moving from seventh place to tie with Dan Timmerman in fifth spot.
Maureen Bruno-Roy continues to consolidate her position atop the women’s standings, despite Katerina Nash’s dominant display in New Jersey. Nash has been overtaken by Laura Van Gilder in recent weeks, with Van Gilder now 54 points behind Bruno-Roy.
Some 30 of the 42 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Racing Calendar events are now complete.
Racers head to Southampton, New York for two days of cyclo-cross
The North American Cyclo-cross Trophy (NACT) will wrap up its 2009 season in Southampton, New York, this weekend, November 21-22.
With Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussure Ogilvy) leading the way in the elite women's series standings, the Canadian's position atop the podium looks to be secure. Giant's Kelli Emmett placed fifth in both in the Boulder and Longmont, Colorado, races and is traveling to New York with teammates Carl Decker and Adam Craig, who could put on quite a show in the men's field. Meanwhile Lyne Bessette (October Factory Racing) will be out for redemption. After taking third in Gloucester, Bessette abandoned Sunday's race and will look to make her mark on the series in this final weekend.
Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com has been the team of the NACT series with Tim Johnson comfortably in the leader's jersey ahead of teammates Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. With fourth place Jonathon Page and sixth place Christian Heule racing in Europe, there are host of riders chomping at the bit for the final money spot on the podium. Bissell's Andy Jacques-Maynes is currently in fifth but only 11 points ahead of Jesse Anthony (Jamis).
But while the green and black boys have all but secured their podium spots, there is one thing that might put a damper on the weekend: Ryan Trebon (Kona). Though the current US national champion is 20th in the NACT overall standings, Trebon is back in form and flying after a couple of crashes side-lined him last month. While Cannondale will pack the series podium, look for Trebon to factor into the mix of Saturday and Sunday races. Other individuals who could cause some trouble are Giant's Craig, who just missed the podium in Boulder after a leaky tire slowed him down, and two NACT newcomers from Oregon, the Vanilla Workshop's Shannon Skerritt and Kevin Hulick who have been racing against Trebon and Kona teammate Barry Wicks at the Cross Crusade series.