US Cyclo-cross National Champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) accepted an automatic invitation to compete with the US National Team at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic, on January 31. Johnson is currently training in Santa Barbara, California, and hopes that the atypical, warm weather training will give him a competitive edge against his world-class competitors at the grand finale.
"The reason why I went a different direction is because I've done the World Championships preparations a lot of other ways in the past," Johnson said. "I've gone over right after nationals, before Christmas, after Christmas. I've got a little bit of background to look at in order to see what works for me. Hopefully this is the one that works well."
Johnson sported his new stars and stripes skinsuit for the first time since he won the championship event at the Surf City Cyclo-cross held in Santa Cruz last weekend, where he took a convincing win. Some might wonder how well sunny California will prepare him for what could be one of the coldest and iciest World Championships.
"I don't think that I would want to do it any other way and so far, it's been great," Johnson said. "I can train my legs and my head well here, and it's easy to train here."
Johnson won his third title at the US National Cyclo-Cross Championships held in Bend, Oregon, in mid-December. He claimed his previous wins in Kansas City in 2000 and 2007. The New Englander has competed at the World Championships on seven occasion and he is best known for capturing a bronze medal at the Under 23 World Championships in Poprad in 1999.
Following nationals, he turned his full attention to specific training for the World Championships. However, he will only compete against his competitors once before the big day at the final World Cup in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands.
"I can put a lot of effort into it and get something out of my training here, as opposed to dealing with bad weather and travel, " said Johnson who remained on the west coast following the national championships. "I have to try and balance cyclo-cross with my other part of the season which is the road. I'm not sure how it's going to go at worlds, but I think I'm doing pretty good."
Johnson's specific cyclo-cross and cross training workouts include short intervals, hiking and cross country skiing. "If you don't have a chance to race, you have to try and recreate it," he said. "I've been doing hill intervals, the stuff that cross races are made of like speed changes, hard efforts. I've been trying to stay sharp."
"I'm trying to get my body ready for the intense effort again and get my head wrapped around the fact that the season has whipped up to its peak," he said. "I only have Hoogerheide and worlds left. I know it's a huge challenge, but I think I'm doing the majority of things right to make it possible to do well. With a little bit of luck, we will see what happens."
Johnson will travel overseas next week and take the opportunity to recover for several days before lining up to compete in his first World Cup of the season in Hoogerheide. He will then travel to Tabor, Czech Republic, and spend several days warming up on the World Championships course.
"I've checked out as much of the course as I could," Johnson said. "I've watched all the races that have been going on over there. I feel like I could do more work by trying to dial in the course once I see it. All the background prep, I've been able to get a handle on. I'm trying to be as realistic as possible.
Johnson's American teammates at worlds will include Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA), Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com).