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Six-time US national cyclo-cross champion, Tim Johnson is building a strong endurance base ahead of the cyclo-cross season by contesting a number of late-season road races. Johnson recently rode the Cascade Cycling Classic that concluded on Sunday and plans to ride the upcoming Green Mountain Stage Race in Vermont along with the Leadville Trail 100 and Breckenridge Epic, both held in August in Colorado.
"I chose Cascade Classic because it all happens in one spot, I’ve done it six or seven times now, we have a good support system and Lyne [Bessette] and I got married there so Bend is a special place," Johnson told Cyclingnews.
"As far as racing goes, I needed to race," he said. "I’ve been training, a lot of off the bike training, and now I’m transferring everything onto the bike. Cascade was a really hard race but I needed to kick start in order to have a good August leading into September ‘cross. The altitude mountain biking will be great for overall fitness and technical ability."
Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team will also include Jamie Driscoll and US Under 23 Champion Kaitlin Antonneau. The team recently announced the signing of Swiss National Champion Christian Heule and will shortly announce the signing of a new female athlete.
"We have one new guy and new girl," Johnson said prior to the announcement. "He’s really good, really good, and a well qualified addition to the season. Everyone is excited about him for next year. He is an ace when it comes to international travel."
The three-man team will compete in the main US events with a focus on the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP) and the UCI-sanctioned events. The riders will also place more of emphasis on a European schedule to prepare for 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky.
"I want to make sure that this season goes well before moving into 2012 and 2013," Johnson said. "I want to make sure that we race in the US and my teammates and I have successful races. We will be spending a little more time overseas. Everything is done with an eye toward 2013."
Johnson’s long-time teammate Jeremy Powers made a move to race under the Rapha-Focus outfit for the next two seasons. Powers and Johnson were two of the dominant riders on the US cyclo-cross scene during the previous three years as teammates. Last year, Powers was arguably the strongest rider in the US, winning the USGP and NACT series. Johnson noted some of the positive factors that will come out of the two riders parting ways.
"It will be an interesting year because we were together for three seasons," Johnson said. "We know each other really well and I know his strengths and weaknesses. I think he knows mine too. It will be tough and there will be a lot of battles. The rivalry will play out very well. It will be more dynamic and, I hope, more exciting to watch."