Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) continues to lead the North American Cyclo-Cross Trophy series as the season approaches its final stretch of rugged racing. Cyclocrossworld.com's triple-threat teammates Tim Johnson, Jamey Driscoll and Jeremy Powers trail close behind with four races to go until a series winner emerges.
The NACT host ten rounds that span over five weekends of racing which began with Star Crossed and Rad Racing in Washington, moved to the Grand Prix of Gloucester's double header in Massachusetts followed by the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross two-round weekend.
Page leads the series with 190 points by virtue of four podium places achieved in the first four rounds, which includes to victories at Rad Racing and the Grand Prix of Gloucester's round one. He has since returned to his home in Belgium where he traditionally focuses on the International Cycling union (UCI) World-Cup and the Superprestige series.
Page acknowledged that he was pleased to be leading the series however, his main incentive for competing in the USA was to use the races as a pre-European season preparation tool and that he would not be contesting the remaining NACT events.
Next stop are rounds seven and eight in Colorado with the Blue Sky Velo Cup and Boulder cup on October 31 and November 1. Following Page's 190 points is runner up Tim Johnson with 185 points, Jamey Driscoll with 169 points and Jeremy Powers with 140. The tough-to-beat teammates are expected to shine after recently capturing a sixth consecutive season victory, eleventh in total at the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross races.
"I was a little worried about being injured and the worst part was having to sit out," said Johnson who worked his way back into the game after a separated his shoulder at Star Crossed last month. "Last year I was trying to go for [the series] but when I crashed in Jersey I had to sit out the last round of the NACT in Southampton. "I lost the lead then and had to watch Ryan [Trebon] ride away with it. He's not contesting it this year, so it's definitely up for us."
Third placed in the series, Driscoll is having a break-out season with a win at the national marquee event CrossVegas. He went on to a string of four podium places in the NACT series and is gunning for the overall title. "I would definitely like to go after it this year," Driscoll said. "It would be a cool personal goal but, depending on how the racing goes we don't know. Maybe I'll have a bad race next weekend and my teammates will still be up there or something. There are two more weekends left."
The three teammates had a two to one chance of taking over the leader's jersey in Toronto's second round with both Johnson and Driscoll within reach. In the end it was Powers' who rolled in with the win which meant that the leader's jersey remains with Page until the next round.
"I don't think the points really mattered today because the series still has four more races," said Powers following his outstanding win in Toronto. "We have so much time to go and I hope it doesn't make a difference today. We are not going to worry about the rankings and we are just going to race our races. It's all good because the harder we go against each other now the better we are later."
The final rounds nine and ten of the NACT series will take place at the Super Cross, two events held in Southampton, New York on November 21 and 22nd.
Elliott re-adjusts her goals
On the women's side, Canadian Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chausseurs) moved into the NACT series lead after four consecutive victories at the Grand Prix of Gloucester and the Toronto International Cyclo-Cross. Her commanding 240-point lead in the overall rankings means that she could likely hold onto the leader's jersey until the final round in Southhampton.
"That $1,500 of overall prize money would be nice and I think the extra prize money would help my training preparations to go down south in January before for going over to Europe," Elliott said. "That is the big thing is to have that extra money and maybe that would further my training this January."
Elliott is followed at a distance by runner up Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale) with 140 points and Helen Wyman (Kona), British National Champion in third place with 85 points. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of the NACT Defending Champion, Georgia Gould (Luna).
"Yeah, definitely nice to follow in her footsteps," Elliott who remember her breakout season last year. "Last year I went to Southampton and I was leading that race and ended up first on the first day. To be leading those two around on the course was like, wow, I was really getting to where I want to be."
Elliott is not confirmed to compete in the next round held in Boulder, Colorado. "Maybe if someone fired me an email and took care of everything for me. But, budget-wise, I don't know because it's really expensive. That was my only weekend off that I had planned, too. Maybe I will go and do a couple of more Verge races if I decide to race that weekend."
Her goals did not include the challenging the NACT series, instead her original program focused on the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross series because it was offered less travel and plenty of racing.
"My goals are a lot more loose fitting now," Elliott said. "At first I wanted to just do the Verge series, but now maybe I will do a little bit different. I'll go for some more of the NACT races and then go to Europe for two weeks in December. I'd like to win the NACT now."
Elliott's planned a two-week trip to Europe for the holiday week of racing in December. If selected to the Canadian World Championship team her training may take on an unconventional approach that includes travel to the warmer climates of southern USA. It differs from her World Championship preparations last year where she spent four weeks competing in the final world-cups and living in Belgium as she did the previous year.
"Last year was colder than normal in Belgium and it was really hard to train. I felt like I lost fitness from the end or December to February. I think there are a couple of local races down south in the USA. It depends on how the two weeks goes when I'm there and I'll decide."