- Article published:
- September 22, 2011, 10:48
- Kirsten Frattini
National series to offer equal prize money for top five men and women
The Exergy Cyclo-cross US Gran Prix p/b Greenware (USGP) series will begin this weekend at the Planet Bike Cup held on September 25 and 26 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Event organizers have committed to offering equal prize money for the top five places of the men and women elite categories where defending overall champions Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) are expected to participate.
Planet Bike Cup will open with a C1 event on Saturday and will follow with a C2 event on Sunday. Former teammates Powers and Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) won the respective events last year. On the women’s side, US National Champion Katie Compton (Rabobank Giant Offroad Team) won back-to-back events, however, she will not be in attendance this year and will instead start her season at the second weekend of USGP racing in Fort Collins.
The USGP series will continue at the New Belgium Cup on October 8 and 9 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Last year, Johnson and Powers went on to secure a second win each while Gould pulled off her first set of double victories.
"We have great partnerships in these communities," said promoter Joan Hanscom. Great local volunteerism. Fun venues. I think the racers who come to the USGP really enjoy the courses and the race day experience. An enthusiastic community goes a long way towards making the events fun for everyone, so we are looking forward to more great racing everywhere this season. I mean beer service on golf carts in Sun Prairie and New Belgium Brewing bringing the "fun" element in Fort Collins. What's not to love."
The penultimate weekend of racing will take place at the Derby City Cup on November 12 and 13 in Louisville, Kentucky. Last year, Canadian Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) pulled off the win on the opening day and Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) won the women’s race. On day two, it was Johnson and Compton who secured their third series wins each. The venue will provide the perfect test run for the upcoming 2012 Masters and 2013 Masters and Elite UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships.
"After a really wet and flooded spring, the venue is looking really good right now," Hanscom said. The grass that was absent last year because of a record draught has grown in with a vengeance and it's looking pretty lush down there. I've spoken about the need for strong local community support, and certainly we have that here in Louisville. Metro Parks has done great work on that venue. The course will likely not be exactly the same for USGP and Masters worlds but will surely be very close. With the USGP we have to be cognizant of creating a course that is ridable for the little juniors and challenging for the top pros. I think we will see a bit more technical course for Masters worlds, but very close to the USGP."
"The course in Louisville benefits from a lot of natural features including some challenging run ups and hillsides, a bunch of opportunities for challenging off-camber on the hillside, natural sand dunes," she said.
"Some interesting whoop-dee like bumps, a pretty long sandpit and some technical riding through the woods and down along the river. It's a big venue with areas for some wide open, pure power riding. The comment we heard the most last year was that the venue was challenging naturally. It didn't rely on man-made 180 degree turns to add technical riding. It was all there naturally. Hopefully we’ve tweaked and refined that even more this season."
The series will conclude at the Deschutes Brewery Cup on December 10 and 11 in Bend, Oregon, the former site of the national championships. Last year’s Elite national titles went to Compton and Todd Wells (Specialized Racing). However, the final USGP series has traditionally been held in Portland, where last year, Powers and Nash swept the final round.
"We are really excited about the move to Bend," Hansom said. "It's a great community for sports and they have tremendous enthusiasm for our events.
"At the USGP we have consistently sought to race in venues and communities where the local community wanted us. VisitBend is a great organization who has made the transition to Bend very easy and who really wanted to be a partner with the event. It's great when you have that type of support.
"The venue is super, downtown, and in the heart of "stuff" to do such as shopping and dining. Deschutes Brewing is also on board and so we should see some good fun off the bike too. Feedback from our other sponsors has been positive too."
"We will largely run on the same course as nationals was," she said. It's a tested venue at the UCI level, which is what enabled us to change from Portland to Bend and retain our C1 status. We may make a couple of changes but you'll largely see the same features with stairs, fly-over and surely lots of mud."
- Article published:
- September 24, 2011, 03:09
- Kirsten Frattini
New Englander raises funds for World Bicycle Relief
Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) is hoping to improve his professional road cycling career by limiting his cyclo-cross season to just one event at the UCI Gran Prix of Gloucester held on October 1 and 2 in his home town of Gloucester, Massachusetts. In addition, he is committed to raising $6700 for World Bicycle Relief's Bicycle for Education Empowerment Program (BEEP).
"I decided not to race 'cross this spring," Anthony told Cyclingnews. "I set an ultimatum for myself last 'cross season. If I did really well I would keep going but if not I wasn't going to keep flailing and riding 80 per cent for another 'cross season."
Anthony had a break out mid-summer when he won the overall title at the Nature Valley Grand Prix. He ended his road season on a high note winning a stage at the Tour of Utah and the Univest Grand Prix criterium, the sprinter's jersey and the overall weekend event.
"I've already seen some physical improvements this year," he said. "I've been racing well all year and I don't have a ton of results to show for it but I have been in the mix at a lot of races. Not having the stress planning the cross schedule, getting all my equipment together and traveling, this time of year has always been super stressful for me. So, not even having to think about that has allowed me to focus on road racing more. I think the big benefit is going to pay off next year after I take a real break this fall."
Anthony is not only a formidable road racer but a competitive cyclo-crosser that has a history of strong results with seven national titles including wins at the Under 23 US National Cyclo-cross Championships in 2004, 2005 and 2006. As an Elite rider he has won Cycle-Smart International and the Gran Prix of Gloucester.
"The whole point of not doing this is to really take a break," Anthony said. "It is going to be really nice to have an off season. I normally take three weeks off the bike and then can't do anything. This year I will get to go hiking, go camping and do some fun stuff in the fall and that will be really nice. I will take my time to prepare for the road season this year. Hopefully taking a real off season and not racing 'cross will allow me to prepare better and be more consistent in road racing."
Although he has made the difficult decision to not race cyclo-cross this year in order to better his performances on the road, Anthony will compete in the Gran Prix of Gloucester's double-header during the first weekend of October. He will also raise funds for the World Bicycle Relief to provide bicycles to people in Zambia. You can help by making a donation at grassroots.kintera.org/active/jessecx.
"I love that race, it is my hometown race and my favourite race in the country," Anthony said. "I've done it every year for the last 12 years. I hope I win it but I won't change my mind about not racing 'cross. I just want to go out on top. It will be my last hurrah and my big goal this fall is to win Gloucester."
- Article published:
- September 26, 2011, 21:00
- Cycling News
USA city with apparent financial and structural problems
Louisville, Kentucky, USA, may be on the verge of losing the 2013 Cyclo-Cross world championships. It must provide financial and organizational guarantees to the International Cycling Union by the end of this week, or the UCI will award the championships to another location.
According to the Gazet van Antwerpen, the event has no commercial sponsors, which would indicate financial difficulties.
In addition, 'cross riders Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters were in Louisville last week to see the course, which is to be ridden February 2-3, 2013. However, the newspaper reported, they saw “nothing which in any way appeared to be a cyclo-cross course.”
The matter was discussed at last weeks UCI meetings in Copenhagen, with the UCI giving Louisville organisers until the end of this week to clarify the financials and meet the timing requirements for work on the course. However, “promoters remain deaf to the UCI's hints that Louisville might lose the rights to organise the world championships.”
France or Luxembourg as fallback
Both France and Luxembourg are mentioned as possible candidates to take over the championships, with the smaller country appearing to have the edge. “Luxembourg City has long flirted with the idea of organising a cyclo-cross world championship on the Kirchberg plateau,” the GVA said.
Belgium is scheduled to host the Worlds in 2012 and 2016, and is not interested in 2013 as well.
- Article published:
- September 27, 2011, 03:41
- Kirsten Frattini
Race organizers await television contract from sport governing body
Rumors that the inaugural 2013 Elite Cyclo-cross World Championships set to take place in Louisville, Kentucky, is under financial and organizational strain were put to rest by event promoter Bruce Fina who stated that the event has neither been audited or reported by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Fina confirmed that the organization has several financial backers lined up however, contracts are pending until the UCI announces its television agreements.
"This is news to Louisville 2013," Fina told Cyclingnews. "I find it hard to imagine that the UCI would tell something like this to the press without informing us first. As far as our financial status goes, I am not sure who is speaking here, but we have not been audited or reported our finances to the UCI or any other organization so I have no idea where they get it from."
According to the Belgian newspaper, Gazet van Antwerpen, the organization has no commercial sponsors lined up indicating financial difficulty. However, Fina assured that the organization has several sponsors lined up, both endemic and non-endemic and many of those sponsors are waiting to sign contractual agreements, until the UCI has a television contract in place for the US market.
"As we all know not only is the Worlds in the US unprecedented, but the Cyclocross World Championship has never before been shown on television in the US," Fina said. "The UCI holds all television broadcast rights and, although we have been involved in some conversations and even meetings with the UCI and some television channels, as of yet we have not been informed by the UCI about which channel will broadcast the races live on television in the USA. Until we have that information it is very difficult to put a valuation on sponsorship. Due to the nature of television in the US and advertising spots that make up a program, it is crucial to have very exact information about the television programing for our sophisticated sponsors."
"The UCI has historically worked with European television networks in which there are no ads and thus all valuation is done only on course signage and on site spectators," he added. "In the US market it is the polar opposite where bigger sponsors are truly only interested in television. This lack of clarity may be why historically only the independently organized races such as the Grand Tours and some Classics have been televised."
Fina noted that his organization is waiting for the UCI to announce a television contract for the 2013 world championships, along with its package details and channel. In addition, he is looking for confirmation that all events including Elites, Under 23 and Junior categories will be involved in the live televised agreement. He noted that the organization's agreement included specified live television feeds for all licensees of the UCI.
"It would be a shame if the UCI cannot negotiate to have it on a reasonably successful US channel that goes into the majority of US households," Fina said. "We would prefer that it is not on pay-per-view or just highlights of the races at midnight on an obscure cable channel, but that is completely in the control of the UCI."
Gazet van Antwerpen also reported that Belgium's Telenet-Fidea teammates Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters expressed disappointed that the course was not set up to test ride during their brief visit to the event site at the Eva Bandman Park in Louisville. However, Fina explained the impossibility of setting up the cyclo-cross circuit in a public park two years in advance of the event date. He did note that there will be several cyclo-cross events held on that site before the Elite world's takes place including the Exergy Cyclo-cross US Gran Prix Derby City Cup this November along with the 2012 and 2013 UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships.
"As far as the course goes, work is proceeding at Eva Bandman Park," Fina said. "As many of you know the park was reworked last year by the Metro Parks and it has been a season to let the grass grow in and firm up. We will be organizing at least three big events on the course there before Worlds 2013 so I see no issue with the course at all."
"I think the Belgians might have been disappointed that there were no stakes in the ground when they visited town," he said. "But the park is meant to be multi-purpose so there was really no need to set up a course for a visit between races. That said they were very pleased with the USGP course in Madison [Planet Bike Cup] and felt comfortable that we can make a great ‘cross course for Worlds with the features available in Louisville."
- Article published:
- September 27, 2011, 18:32
- Cycling News
World champion sidelined by knee injury
World champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) has withdrawn from Sunday's Vlaamse Industrieprijs Bosduin cyclo-cross race in Kalmthout, Belgium, the first UCI C1-ranked event of the season on the European calendar, in order to recover from an injury to his right knee.
The 25-year-old Czech injured his knee following victory in his 'cross season debut on Saturday at the Toi Toi Cup event in his hometown of Stribro, Czech Republic.
"After the arrival I was heading back to the tent behind the podium when all of a sudden I hit my right knee against a delimitation barrier for the athletes' access route to the tent," said Stybar. "It didn't seem like anything too serious at the time, but on Sunday during a race in Baden, Switzerland, my knee started persistently bothering me."
Despite feeling bothered by his knee, Stybar nonetheless won Süpercross Baden on Sunday in a tight finish against French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ) and Switzerland's Lukas Flückiger (Trek World Racing Team).
As a precautionary measure, however, Stybar and his team's medical staff have decided he would not compete in his first scheduled race in Belgium on Sunday, October 1 - Vlaamse Industrieprijs Bosduin - and take a week of rest before resuming training.
"I'm really bummed I won't be able to race on Sunday but I think it's only right that I should recover before returning to the races," said Stybar. "We're at the beginning of the season and I don't want to run the risk of the problem coming up again during the course of the season and compromising my performance."
A decision will be made about when Stybar returns to 'cross racing once he begins training again in a week's time.
- Article published:
- September 29, 2011, 20:45
- Brecht Decaluwé
30th anniversary of cyclo-cross series celebrated in Sint-Laureins
Belgian road and cyclo-cross legend Roger De Vlaeminck made the presentation of the 30th Superprestige a night to remember, making blunt statements criticizing former world champion Niels Albert and Jurgen Van den Broeck.
The event in Sint-Laureins, Belgium on Wednesday preceded the opening Superprestige round in Ruddervoorde, Belgium on October 8.
De Vlaeminck, the 64-year-old former cyclo-cross world champion and quadruple winner of Paris-Roubaix, gave his respect to Sven Nys, the defending series champion and 10-time overall winner and the dedication of his life to the sport. "Compare that with a rider like Niels Albert, who doesn't quite take care of himself the same way," De Vlaeminck said.
'Monsieur Paris-Roubaix' also hit out Omega Pharma's Van den Broeck, saying he didn't understand why young riders don't pay respect to somebody like him. "They should have more respect for their elders. Van den Broeck didn't bother to say hello to a man like me but he's good enough to drive around in a 6M [1.5m euro] car. Back in my days I drove a nice car too but that was one that I had won, now they're buying those cars themselves."
A little later Albert was interviewed by host Philippe Maertens and he reacted to De Vlaeminck's statements by saying, "I think what De Vlaeminck said was rather inappropriate."
During the dinner that followed the presentation De Vlaeminck explained to Cyclingnews that he doesn't want to keep his mouth shut. "I can't be a hypocrite like everybody else. I think my statement will help Niels to work even harder and become even better. He just brought me a bottle of champagne to say I was right. Well, it was Paul Herijgers [former cyclo-cross world champion] who brought it but it came with a message," De Vlaeminck said.
Other accounts indicate the "message" from Albert was "I can't drink this, I have to live for my job".
The current cyclo-cross stars tweeted out their support to Albert. "The reaction of Roger De Vlaeminck was under the belt," Nys wrote. Current world champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step – Innergetic) retweeted a message from Sven Vanthourenhout (Landbouwkrediet) and a strong "Agree" to "Niels Albert is not Sven Nys? True! But he deserves at least as much respect for his commitment and characteristic racing style!"
In other Superprestige news, organisers announced that Nissan extended its contract for three more years, that newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws became the new media partner and cable operator Telenet would start building a media island at each round.
- Article published:
- October 1, 2011, 10:10
- Kirsten Frattini
Czech champion opens World Cup campaign on home soil
Reigning Czech Republic national cyclo-cross champion Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) is hoping to finish on the podium in the first two UCI Cyclo-cross World Cups, held in her home country on October 16 in Plzen and on October 23 in Tabor.
She will arrive at the World Cups in top form having already won five consecutive US events.
"It is exciting and I know both of the places where we will be competing," Nash told Cyclingnews. "Both the races being in the Czech Republic makes it really easy travel. I will be staying with my family for the week in between.
"We just had a mountain bike World Cup in the Czech Republic this summer and it was amazing as far a spectators and support," she said. "I feel like the Czech fans are really into cycling right now. It is really exciting to race at home and I am looking forward to having the hometown advantage and support."
Nash opened the season with her first victory at CrossVegas in Las Vegas. She went on to win StarCrossed p/b Stanley and the Rapha-Focus Gran Prix held in Washington. She then won both days of racing at the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Planet Bike Cup in Wisconsin last weekend.
"Every race you win is great and I felt like there have been quite a few during the last two weeks," Nash said. "I also had good fitness coming into the ‘cross season from the mountain bike season. That is why I want to do as many ‘cross races as I can now in the early season. After the two World Cups I will go back to training later on. But, winning is good and I can't complain."
Nash will travel to the Czech Republic next week to compete in the two opening World Cups in Plzen and Tabor near her hometown. She is unsure how her form will compare to other European competitors who she has not raced with since the world championships held last winter in St Wendel, Germany.
"I will be hoping for good results in front of my family and friends," Nash said. "I placed on the podium quite often in the last two years and I don't race that often. With a good start I know I can be in the game for the podium and so that is my focus.
"Having said that, you just never know because we haven't seen the European ‘cross racers since January and you never know where people start at. I definitely want to have a good race. It doesn't really matter what everyone else is doing, I just have to do my best. If that is winning or getting fourth place, that is all you can really do."
- Article published:
- October 1, 2011, 19:56
- Cycling News
World champion waiting to see road potential before deciding
World cyclo-cross champion Zdenek Stybar may have to make a tough choice between his road career with Quick Step and his winter pursuits in the mud in the future, but is planning on a full off-road season this year and the defense of his rainbow jersey in Koksijde in January.
The Czech rider is unsure, however, whether a heavy road season has left him with enough freshness to compete at the top level in 'cross.
According to Nieuwsblad.be, Stybar, who is sitting out the weekend's race in Kalmthout because of a banged up knee, said, "there is a chance that at some point I will not race 'cross".
He still has goals for the discipline, and will be competing for the World Cup, Superprestige and GvA Trofee. But, he said, "If I do not perform well in the rankings, then I might not do a few races."
"I've done a heavy road season, but I have no idea how my body will react. In November, it may be clear that I am not fresh, and must rest. I will have to curtail my calendar to return in top, also in view of the road season in 2012."
A focus on a more lucrative road career already took Dutchman Lars Boom from the cyclo-cross peloton, but Stybar isn't quite ready to end his off-road career.
"In late 2013, when my contract expires at Quick Step, I will make a final choice between the riding 'cross and road. I can not continue to combine these two sports.
"By 2013 I want to feel that I can win races on the road. Otherwise it is better to keep riding 'cross. "