Relative "newbie" ramps up for road season in Koksijde
Despite having already attended his UnitedHealthcare road team's season training camp, American Chris Jones will still find time to deploy his alter-ego when he lines up with Rapha-Focus at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium at the end of the month.
A solid mountain domestique on the road, Jones is only in his fourth year of racing cyclo-cross, but this season his performances have earned him a discretionary nod for the six-member elite men's Worlds team, despite him being only tenth American on the UCI's rankings.
"It is a complement to me as a rider to have Marc Gullikson use a discretionary pick on me," Jones said. "I started the season with the goal of going to Koksijde, but injuries from Tour of Britain forced me to skip the first part of the season."
Jones was one of the main protagonists in the USA Cycling elite men's national cyclo-cross championship race, racing elbow to elbow with Rapha-Focus teammate and eventual winner Jeremy Powers, Ryan Trebon (LTS-Felt), Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld), who will be his teammates in Koksijde.
"Compared to the other guys on this year's team, I am the newbie to the sport, with just four years under my belt and look forward to learning from them."
Other riders have been forced to choose between their road careers and cyclo-cross in recent years: two-time world champion Lars Boom chose the road, reigning world champion Zdenek Stybar is undecided, and closer to home, Jesse Anthony gave up the winter discipline to be fresh for road season. However, Jones and Powers will continue to live the double life with the 2013 Worlds on their home soil in Louisville, Kentucky, as a primary objective.
"When I started the Rapha-Focus team in 2010, we did so with Louisville 2013 as our goal. This season the team had a banner year with both Zach McDonald] and Jeremy winning their respective USGP tiles and National Championships and I am proud to be their teammate.
"People often ask me how I can race both disciplines, and it just comes down to the fact that I love the sport and its fans. The growth of cyclo-cross in the States has been amazing and I can't wait to see what next season holds for the sport."
As an added benefit, Jones said the intensity of preparing for and racing at the highest level of 'cross will actually help him get ready for the upcoming road season with UnitedHealthcare.
"My coach, Todd Herriott and I agree that Worlds will actually benefit me and my preparations for the 2012 road season, providing intense race efforts two weeks before my first road race. I'm excited to represent the USA in the sand at Koksijde and consider it an honor, learning experience and good step towards racing Worlds in Louisville next year."