By Brecht Decaluwé in Eernegem, Belgium
Jonathan Page was the sole American at the start of the Vlaamse Houtlandcross in Eernegem, Belgium, on Saturday. He finished in a group that battled for victory until the last lap.
Although Page ended up sitting too far back to contest the sprint for the podium, he was still happy with his fifth-place performance. "It would have been nicer [to be] on the podium, of course, but my form is going into the right direction," Page said to Cyclingnews.
Although his form showed forward progress, the American was going backward at one point during the race. After a good start put him in sixth position, the race passed through the local playground, with some tricky uphill corners, one of which caused a local traffic jam. Suddenly, Page found himself going backwards just before crashing down onto Enrico Franzoi.
"I was riding on Nys' wheel when he was forced to slow down in that corner. I was still climbing and couldn't go anywhere but backwards," said Page.
When asked by his daughter Emma about some residual blood on his legs from the incident following the race, Page reassured her that all was well.
"It's just a couple of scratches. I didn't hurt myself too much, but sadly enough the place was packed with itch weed so it was kind of annoying to continue my race," Page said.
Despite losing some positions during the playground incident, Page battled back to the front with Italian star Enrico Franzoi. The pair rejoined the leaders at the halfway mark. Then when Nys accelerated with three laps to go, Page was one of the four riders who bridged up to the Belgian champion.
"I'm happy to see that my form is going into the right direction; I should be ready for the World Cup tomorrow," Page said.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Vlaamse Houtlandcross.