By Steve Medcroft
There were a number of English, Canadian and American riders at Cyclocross Worlds in Zeddam last weekend. Enthusiasm and participation in the traditional Dutch and Belgian cycling discipline has grown exponentially in English-speaking countries in recent years. With a full contingent of Americans, nine Brits, and five Canadians, there were plenty of results to go on about.
The best male effort of the weekend goes to Bjorn Selander (USA). The Alan Factory Team rider's seventh place in the elite junior event doesn't speak adequately to his performance. Through much of the race, a small lead group held a slight advantage over the rest of the pack. Containing the ultimate first, second and third place finishers, these leaders set the pace. Only one rider was able to stay right on their wheel; Selander. The Hudson, Wisconsin high school senior was so close that it was in fact a four-man lead group for most of the race. And if it wasn't for an untimely collision with a course-side tree on the final lap, we may have seen the first American junior on the World Cyclocross podium since Matt Kelley's gold in 1999 and Walker Ferguson's silver in 2000.
In Saturday's U23 race, it seems like a disproportionate number of English speakers got stacked up behind a starting-straight crash. Britain's Ian Field pulled off the best result of the group at twenty-first. The guy to have the worst time of it though was U.S. U23 National Champion Troy Wells. In the crash, Wells went head first into a barrier and (amazingly) rode the entire race bleeding from the face and in the haze of a concussion.
There were eight North Americans and three British women in Sunday's fifty-four-rider women's race. The best result of the group was put up by Helen Wyman (GBR) who finished just behind fourth-placed Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel. The top American result came at the hands of veteran Ann Knapp; a not-bad ninth place for the 'retired,' non-serious rider from the Pacific Northwest. Canadian Lyne Bessette is a strong enough rider that with a better starting position, she might have picked up third place when Van Den Brand lost time to her flat, but considering she had been chasing away a flu for a week and started mid-pack start on a course that absolutely favoured good starting positions, her tenth place shows real promise.
In the elite men's race, the English-speakers struggled a little bit. Except one; American Jonathan Page put up a stiff fight. Thorough much of the first half of the race, he remained in the lead group. Even when things broke up (and despite a shoulder into a tree on his final lap as well), Page fought well enough to earn tenth place - the best American finish and the only English-speaker to crack the top half of the results. With his placing, he once again proved that he is the top American competing in cyclocross