American's European top-10 finishes a good signal ahead of Czech Worlds
American Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) is arguably the United States of America’s best hope of capturing a world title at the Elite men’s International Cycling Union (UCI) Cyclo-Cross World Championships, to be held in Tabor, Czech Republic on January 31.
USA Cycling has already announced its national team rosters for the Junior men's, Elite women's and Under-23 men's world championship categories and will release the Elite men’s roster this week. Page will likely lead the squad into his eighth Cyclo-Cross World Championships event. The Belgian-transplant acknowledged his chances at winning the world title alongside a possible six-man fleet of fellow countrymen.
"I appreciate the ‘pressure’ actually," Page said. "I don't know what the chances are of me actually winning it, though. Worlds is one day, for one hour and anything can happen. People crash, they flat, a normally spectacular guy can have a terrible day and a normally not-so-good guy can have a fantastic day. You just never know. That’s what I like about Worlds. If I have good luck, I will do well, I know that. I have worked really hard for this day and I’m in the best form I can be in. We'll have to see."
Page is best known for being the first North American to stand on the Elite men’s World Championships podium, claiming the silver medal in 2007 at Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. He has won the US national cyclo-cross title on three occasions in 2002, 2003 and 2004. He jumped over to a full-time European cyclo-cross schedule in 2005, competing on the World Cup and Superprestige series'.
The World Championship course is held on a variation of a former Czech World Cup circuit. Page revealed that although he has competed on the World Cup circuit many times before, he has not previewed the new course.
"I haven't seen it," Page said. "They changed it from the World Cup course I have done many times. I still have to finalize details with USA Cycling but I will likely arrive on Wednesday [January 27] and just do my normal pre-race routine. I’m lucky because my family and my friend and mechanic, Franky [Van Haesebroucke], will be there with me just like always so nothing will be different for me. I like my bubble."
Other likely members of the Elite men’s US World Championship team include current US National Champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA). Johnson is no stranger to the World Championships podium having won the bronze medal in the Under-23 category back in 1999 in Poprad, Slovakia. Trebon, the US Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross overall winner, has also stated that he would re-start the second half of his cyclo-cross season four weeks prior to the World Championships to avoid burn-out.
US cyclo-cross competitors already competing overseas includes Johnson’s teammates Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll along with members of the Euro Cross Camp Justin Lindine, Troy Wells and Brian Matter.
Page on track in second half
Page ended the first half of his season with a third place at the US National Cyclo-cross Championships held in Bend, Oregon in mid-December. He looked to be on good form to capture the stars-and-stripes jersey after placing 8th in the UCI World Cup round five in Igorre, Spain the weekend prior. However, the championship event followed a lengthy stint of travel from Europe back to the US’ western seaboard that may have left him feeling sub-par.
Johnson took a commanding victory to claim his third title as US Cyclo-Cross National Champion ahead of Trebon in second place and Page in third.
Page capitalized on the pre-European season by competing in the US during September and October. He landed a podium place in every race he started, beginning with the Star Crossed, then Rad Racing, Cross Vegas, Madison Cup and the Gran Prix of Gloucester events. In early October he travelled back to his home-base in Belgium to prepare for the start of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup and the Superprestige series.
He went on to achieve results that include a 7th place performance in Nacht van Woerden in The Netherlands, an 8th place in Belgium's Grand Prix de la Région Wallonne and an 8th place at World Cup round five held in Igorre, Spain.
He continued his top-ten and near top-ten performances on the world-class Belgian schedule, riding into an 11th place at the International Cyclo-Cross Tervuren, 6th place at the Grote Prijs De Ster in Sint Niklass, 14th place at the seventh World Cup round in Zolder, 15th at the Nissan Superprestige Trophy in Diegem, 8th at Noordzeecross Middelkerke and a 17th place at the sixth World Cup round in Kalmthout. He also captured a 3rd place spot on the podium at the Hotel Threeland in Petange, Luxembourg.
When asked if he was fully recovered from a quick turn around back to Europe after the US National Championships, he said. "I didn't have a choice, I had to start racing right off the plane so it took me a while to recover, I think. Now, I finally feel like I’m back in form and on the up-swing, instead of on the verge of it."
Page outlined his preparation schedule for the World Championships, which will include the Internationale Centrumcross van Surhuisterveen in The Netherlands along with the final two World Cups in Roubaix, France and Hoogerheide, Belgium. When asked if he is on track to peak condition for the grand finale, he said, "Yes, that has been the plan and it seems like it is working out so far.
"It's always an exciting time because the Worlds are a big deal and anything can happen on that one day for one hour," Page said. "I just try to do everything right and leave the training to my trainers."
Page expressed his gratitude toward his support network of family, friends and fans that will travel to the Tabor to watch him in action at the World Championships. This group will include his long-time mechanic Franky van Haesebroucke and his wife, Cori Page along with daughter, Emma and son, Milo.
"My sister and sister in-law will be there again, I think they have made the last seven times." Page said. "Plus, more family. I know that Bob [Downs] from Planet Bike and several representatives of Blue will be there. I have a bunch of friends from Belgium and some from the USA coming, some of whom I consider extended family, especially Franky.
"My coaches will be watching nervously online, unless there is something I don't know," he added. "I know that many of my ‘fans’ will be making the trip and many others will be watching on television and online too. I’m going to soak all of this support in and use it as a boost for my motivation, not pressure. It's pretty awesome when I think about it. All these people, from all over the place, supporting me. I can't think of too many people that go to work each day with that kind of support system. I am a lucky guy."