After enjoying some good results stateside including two victories, Planet Bike's Jonathan Page flew across the Atlantic on Friday morning towards his house in Oudenaarde, Belgium. The 33 year-old returns to Europe yearly to take on the challenge of riding at a higher level in the heart of cyclo-cross, the Flemish region of Belgium.
One day after flying in, Page was already racing in Namur for the first big cyclo-cross race in years in Wallonia, the Southern part of Belgium where the first round of the GvA Trophy was held. The race was held up and around the famous citadel that often features as uphill finish in the road races like the GP Wallonie, and hosted the third stage of the Giro d'Italia 2006.
The inaugural edition of the race has been compared with the Koppenbergcross, which is one of cyclo-cross' most illustrious events.
The crowds that sidelined the tough course in Namur witnessed another one-man show of the in-form world champion Niels Albert. The young Belgian held off Belgian champion Sven Nys and Czech champion Zdenek Stybar. Nys, Klaas Vantornout, Radomir Simunek and Kevin Pauwels all crashed on the course that left no room for errors.
Cyclingnews talked with Page after the race to find out how he had survived the battle of the citadel. "That's one hell of a hill," Page said, "but it was good to see a cyclo-cross at a different part of the country. It was a slippery descent but I didn't take too much risk and always managed to stay on the bike."
The number two of the world championship in 2007 explained that he wasn't hoping to battle for the win in Namur. "We flew in on Friday morning and tonight I was awake at 1AM. My start wasn't too aggressive as it would be a long tough race," Page said.
Halfway through race the American rode in a group that battled for tenth place and in the end Page finished thirteenth. "At one point I was riding in seventh position but then I dropped back; it felt like I had a governor on," Page said.
The American now has more then 24 hours to get rid of the jet lag and tackle the faster course in Ruddervoorde, near Bruges in the North-West of Belgium, where the first round of the Superprestige Series is held on Sunday.