A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Pre-race favourite pulls out after losing consciousness
Before the junior race at the 2014 cyclo-cross world championships in Hoogerheide there was little doubt that Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic) would win the rainbow jersey. The Czech talent was third at the 2013 world championships in Louisville and then dominated the World Cup this season. The 17-year-old Czech headed to the Netherlands as the clear favourite.
However Toupalik didn't live up to the high expectations. Instead of enjoying a day of glory he had the worst day of his life, pulling out of the race in the fourth lap.
"Yesterday [Friday] I was a little sick. This morning I had a massive headache," Toupalik said. When taking a shower his situation turned even worse when he lost consciousness for a few moments.
"Yes, that's true. Luckily my roommate was there to help me out. Starting the race was not an option at that moment," Toupalik said. A little later the Czech rider headed out to take breakfast and his situation improved. "After breakfast I felt better but still not optimal."
Toupalik decided to start the race. He felt right away that it wouldn't be his day. "During the first lap I rode with the top but I had no power."
Later the Czech disappeared from the picture before eventually pulling out in the fourth lap. "I came here to win. I'm very disappointed."
The devastated Toupalik felt it was too soon to say something about his calendar or about future teams. "There's a few more races in Belgium but it's too soon to say something about that right now. Next week I'll know more."
Vegas World Cup still a possibility
The UCI today announced the schedule for the 2014-2015 Cyclo-cross World Cup, naming Milton Keynes in the UK as the first venue outside of continental Europe to host a round.
CrossVegas was heavily rumoured to be the site of the first race in the series on September 10, but the confirmation of that round is yet to me made. UCI cyclo-cross coordinator Peter Van Den Abeele explained to Cyclingnews that the UCI Mangement Commmittee has only approved seven of the races, and they are still holding out hope that the eighth will be in Las Vegas.
"The United States is not excluded because we only have seven of the eight rounds filled in, so there's still one round available," Van Den Abeele said.
"I would definitely not exclude that (having the USA host a World Cup round for 2014-15 season), but we have to be realistic that the longer the clock ticks the more it's going to turn to a no."
Defending world champion Sven Nys has been a proponent of globalizing cyclo-cross by extending the World Cup to America, but the well-entrenched calendar of Belgian races provides numerous road blocks for adding new races, especially ones that involve such extensive travel for the racers.
The position of CrossVegas in the very early season, well before the classic Belgian 'cross races, makes it more amenable to inclusion.
"I think that if there is an American World Cup round it has to be early season and the one most favorable is of course the [Las] Vegas one. It doesn't block anyone on the international calendar which is a huge advantage because it's on a Wednesday. It's early in the European season as well so it's very attractive calendar-wise. And of course for the industry there's Interbike so that is very attractive."
Van Den Abeele expects a decision to be made quickly on whether or not CrossVegas will be in the World Cup.
"Bearing in mind that CrossVegas is an early date in September then at least it should be...
Belgian modest about future prospects
The surprising winner in the Junior Men category of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships was Thijs Aerts. The 17-year-old Belgian took a well-deserved the victory ahead of his two teammates Yannick Peeters and Jelle Schuermans. Pre-race top favourite Adam Toupalik struggled with illness and never played a role of importance.
A modest Aerts played the perfect teammate in the first half of the race when he sat on the wheel of Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands) as three of his compatriots rode away. Seemingly out of contention of a podium result, Aerts' situation turned around when two of the Belgians in front crashed. Aerts then left Nieuwenhuis behind and headed towards the other pre-race favourite Peeters. One uphill section separated Aerts from the rest of the field: combining both strength and technical skills he managed to ride where the rest were forced to run. Aerts reached the finish solo to grab the biggest win in his young career.
"Beforehand I would not have believed it. I was stressing to make it into the Belgian selection and was glad that I survived the cut."
Aerts finished twice on the podium in a World Cup round and then finished third at the Belgian championships. He was selected for the world championships, and two weeks later he showed that he deserved his selection. In Nommay, Aerts grabbed his first ever win in a round of the World Cup, one week before Worlds.
"At the Belgian championships I wasn't super. Nommay was better. I would enter my first ever world championships race and I just wanted to get a good result. This win comes as quite a surprise. It's great of course.
"On one climb I made the...
Dutch rider thrives under pressure
When Marianne Vos crossed the line in Hoogerheide to win her seventh UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship title in her home country, it appeared as if it could have been her first. Suppressing tears on the podium. It is clear Vos invests a lot of emotion into every one of her wins, even if it was her sixth in a row. At only 26 years of age, Vos could not believe it was her seventh title already.
"I don’t want to choose between one of my titles. The first one was great and in the Netherlands, the second one was here in Hoogerheide, too. It’s incredible. I can’t believe that I already won seven world titles. I didn’t think about it during the race. Every year you have to prove yourself," Vos said at the post-race press conference in the town hall of Hoogerheide.
It’s a question Vos gets asked quite a lot but when you see her racking up the wins one can’t avoid to ask it. What keeps you going?
"I just like the sport. I like the pressure at the big races, especially in your own country. Everything has to come together in one day."
Managing form and nerves, and banking on a bit of luck on that important day takes talent. It’s something that her rival World Cup winner Katie Compton lacked on Saturday. Before the race everybody was expecting a duel between Vos and Compton but the latter was unable to fight along in front.
Vos was sympathetic to the World Cup champion's plight. "I just wanted the title but of course everybody expected a battle. She really had a strong season. I had a tough time trying to follow her in a few races. It’s a shame she had trouble already early on with Pavla Halikova." Compton and Havlikova collided and needed some time to untangle their bikes. "After her...
American suffers from bad start in Hoogerheide
The 2013-2014 cyclo-cross season of Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective) has been one of the US champion's most successful, but on the most important race of the season Compton's body didn’t co-operate, leaving her frustrated and in bitter disappointment with a 9th place finish in the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships.
The winner of the World Cup overall was expected to be a tough challenger to Marianne Vos, but halfway through the race Compton was only in the mix for a bronze medal. Then breathing problems took their toll - she was clearly gasping for air on the last lap, but didn’t find enough of it. Compton eventually rolled across the finish line in ninth place at nearly three minutes from new world champion Vos.
Right after crossing the finish line Compton landed in the arms of her husband Mark Legg, who is also her mechanic at the races. After cleaning up, getting some air from the pump and avoiding the media, Compton headed back to the camper. "It’s been tough. It’s hard having bad world championships," she told Cyclingnews after a time. "I know it’s been great so far and I should be happy with the World Cup but right now that’s difficult."
As it turns out the problems started when the Compton team arrived back in Europe after the US national championships, which she won. One week before the world championships Compton took part in the final round of the World Cup in Nommay, a classification in which she had an unbridgeable gap on British rider Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea). During the second lap of the race Compton pulled out, clearly suffering with breathing problems. A pollen allergy probably causes the asthmatic reaction. Compton was on the sofa for most of the week, not being able to do any training.
When Compton looked back on her week and her race she...
Dutch rider fought back to bronze for home fans
Although it was his first year in the U23 ranks, 19-year-old Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel was a favorite to add an espoir UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship victory to the junior world title of last year. The World Cup winner's dreams were shattered on the first lap, when the aggressive Belgian team went on the attack, leaving the son of legend Adrie van der Poel to fight for bronze.
Wout Van Aert, the eventual winner, went on the attack from the first lap, while Van der Poel struggled to stay with the chase group. Michael Vanthourenhout rode solidly to the silver medal, while late in the race Van der Poel bounced back to take the bronze medal at 1:17 from the winner, breaking the grip of Belgians Laurens Sweeck and Toon Aerts.
"I don't know if this had to become my race. I'm a first-year U23 rider and I think some people expect too much. Maybe I won the bronze medal, but I came here for the jersey. It's a bit of a consolation prize."
"Two men were stronger. Obviously I wasn't in best shape today. Already in the first lap when I was impressed by [Van Aerts'] running. I thought: 'where is he going?' When Michael [Vanthourenhout] went I couldn't follow either. I was a bit sick but didn't think it would bother me. Even when I was good I would probably finish third. I wanted to quit but I didn't do it for the crowd. It was for the crowd that I kept going."
‘For the crowd' was meant in both a positive and negative way. Van der Poel didn't dare to pull out as that meant he had to find his way through the mass back to the camper. "I heard some Belgians booing. They didn't have to do that because I knew it myself," Van der Poel said laconically. "There's not much fun about riding this way but there was no way I could pull out. I felt straight away that I wasn't 100 per cent. Abandoning would've been the most wise thing to do but the...
No plans to turn pro just yet for Belgian
Wout Van Aert (Belgium) soloed away from his rivals on the first lap of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships U23 race, never to be caught back. The 19 year-old rider from Lille outclassed the opposition and turned the race into a one-man show, taking the rainbow jersey with a healthy margin over teammate Michael Vanthourenhout. The expected duel with Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) never materialised as Van der Poel didn't start well and finished third, more than a minute in arrears.
"It was the best day to have good legs. I'm so happy with this jersey," Van Aert said. "I went full gas on parts it was possible and recovered on others. I didn't make any mistakes. The past few years I've always been a favourite at the championships but I always managed to screw it up. I'm glad I showed that I can do it at worlds."
Van Aert made a pre-planned move to run a section that his rivals tried to ride, and the gap proved to be enough to give him an unassailable lead. Runner-up Michael Vanthourenhout said he won silver, realizing Wout Van Aert was on a league of his own.
"I saw in the recon this morning that if you stay on the bike you don't have the grip," Van Aert said. "I figured that if you run straight away, you're faster than those on the bike. It wasn't my goal to go solo from there. Primarily I wanted to throw a first bomb to split the group apart. The Junior Men race remained together for a long time and I don't like that.
"Secondly I knew it might be a mental blow to Mathieu van der Poel if I attacked early. I started well and when approaching that section Toon Aerts was leading while I was not on my limit. I knew I could surprise by running. I immediately saw I had some metres. Then I had a good corner in the woods. I had...
Omega Pharma-Quickstep rider unsure of how often he will display rainbow jersey
The worst-case scenario for the huge amount of Belgian fans present at the Hoogerheide 2014 UCI cyclo-cross world championships became reality on Sunday afternoon as Czech rider Zdenek Stybar took home the victory in the elite men's race.
The 2010 and 2011 'cross world champion dispatched pre-race favorite Sven Nys on the final lap to win the rainbow jersey, but it is unclear as to how cyclo-cross will factor into his future, since his focus has turned mainly to the road and his Omega Pharma-QuickStep team.
Stybar couldn't say how often he would display his new jersey, or if he would defend his cyclo-cross world title at the 2015 World Championships in his home country, in Tabor.
"Tabor is a different circuit. I know how much energy it'll cost me to be in perfect shape and how many stairs I have to run to get the title. Tabor is really hard. You have to invest a lot of time for that. My victory today is the best publicity for Czech cyclo-cross, Czech cycling, Czech sport that I could do. That was also a reason why I started here."
Stybar allayed the fears of the fans that not having the rainbow jersey in the races would hurt the sport.
"The supporters and crowd and television viewers will never change. It's just the number one sport in Belgium sport. It doesn't matter if the world champion is there or not. They will still love the sport ... There's a really big chance I'll race cyclo-cross in 2014 but it's too far away to tell how much."
Now a Grand Tour stage winner (in the Vuelta a España), and a podium contender in Paris-Roubaix, Stybar now limits his 'cross to a few races between Christmas and Worlds, and only secured permission from Omega...