Former Champion confident of form, wary of rivals
The USA's Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) will return home from his European cyclo-cross campaign well prepared to contest the United States National cyclo-cross Championships, to held in Bend, Oregon on Sunday, December 13.
Page has won the US national cyclo-cross title on three occasions in 2002, 2003 and 2004. However, the prestigious jersey has eluded him in the last four years with victories distributed between rivals Todd Wells (2005), Tim Johnson (2007) and Ryan Trebon (2006, 2008).
"I have to think of Nationals as what it is; a one day event. Anything can happen." Page said. "It's a lot of work and sacrifice and planning for me just to get over there and although I've done my best each year, I've been unable to win it for the last four years. If I win it, it would be great. But if I don't, I’m not going to be disappointed anymore. I have a lot of racing left afterwards in Europe and I’m really focused on the Worlds."
Page is best known for being the first North American to stand on the elite World Championships podium, after he claimed the silver medal at the 2007 cyclo-cross Worlds in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. He jumped over to full-time European 'cross racing in 2005 and has competed since in the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Cup and Superprestige series'.
He kicked off his 2009 cyclo-cross season in the USA and landed a podium place in each of the US-based races he started, including the Star Crossed, Rad Racing, Cross Vegas, Madison Cup and the Gran Prix of Gloucester. In early October he travelled back to his base in Belgium to prepare for the start of his European season.
"It helped to have [UCI] points [gathered in the US]," Page said. "That was the first goal of doing well. That way I could start further forward in the grid over here. It's also easier, I think, to start in America, rather have my first race over here against the World's best."
Since his departure, the US cyclo-cross scene has witnessed near domination from Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com trio Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll. Reigning US National Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) has also won several events and currently leads the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series. Other notable performances include Todd Wells (Specialized), Chris Jones (Champion System), Dan Timmerman (Richard-Sachs) and Jesse Anthony (Jamis).
"Here's my rule: Never rule anyone out [for the nationals]," Page said. "Never count on any one person to win. As I said before, it's one day, one hour. You just never know."
Page described his performances in Europe so far this season as being an up-and-down experience. However, he had a respectable seventh place performance in Dutch race Nacht van Woerden and an eighth in the Grand Prix de la Region Wallone. Those results also sit alongside a series of top-20 finishes at World Cup and Superprestige events.
Page said he expects to improve on those results and gain power throughout his next segment of European racing in December and January.
"I hope to have some consistently good placings and one-or-two great places coming up," Page said. "I just haven't performed as well as I had hoped. I had a promising World Cup the week after I arrived and then was sort of in a hole for a while which forced me to have to rest. I've had bad luck as well that I didn't hope for but mostly it's just that the level has gone up so high over here that it's been difficult for me."
When asked if cyclo-cross fans could expect an even stronger Jonathan Page at the US National Championships he said, "That's for sure. I've not gotten slower. I know that. It's just hoping I can get it together after the travel. If you don't see it in Bend, you'll see it afterwards back over here."
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