Jonathan Page (Fuji/Spy Optics) returned to the US last week to defend his title at the USA Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships being held on January 12th in Boulder, Colorado. Page met up with his US mechanic, David Kohli, on Sunday at the Altitude Adjustment Cross race in Longmont, Colorado, in order to start acclimating to the altitude, and to dial in their exchanges.
"David drove in from Madison, and got here a day earlier than expected, so I just used the race with him to do some bike changes and get used to him throwing bikes at me and everything," said Page. "Honestly I just did the race at 80 percent or less. It was wicked cold, I was thinking on the sidelines, the last time I started a race in a thermal jacket and face mask was back in New Hampshire when I was a junior. "
Page's season has been plagued by injury and illness, but he still managed to finish third on Sunday behind Raleigh-Clement teammates Jamey Driscoll and Allen Krugoff. Page recently fell hard at the Christmas week race in Loenhout, and was concerned about a possible muscle tear in his leg, or more importantly, re-injuring his ribs.
Page decided to keep racing, despite the risk of further illness and injury. His gamble was rewarded the next day when he finished sixth at the Cyclo-cross Bredene against a top notch field. While encouraged by the result, Page thinks the effort may have brought on another bought of illness, which he has had to manage while finishing his Belgian commitments, and traveling to the US.
Page has an impressive history at the US nationals having sat on the podium every year since 2002. He holds a total of four national titles, and is the only contender in Sunday's event who has won consecutive national championships ('02,'03,'04).
While a group of American's including Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cylcocrossworld.com), Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus), and Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-Cylcocrossworld.com), have chosen forge a new brand of cyclo-cross stateside, Page chose to make a living in Europe. His work paid off with a second place finish at the world championships in 2007, but despite his successes in Europe and the US, Page has struggled over the years to put together a full sponsorship package. As a result Page has placed a lot of value in owning the national championship jersey, regardless of which continent he's racing on.
A New Englander at heart, Page is more reserved and guarded than many in the American peloton, who make great use of Twitter and other media outlets. Page has a tendency to downplay his set backs, and instead puts his focus and energy on being prepared for race day. When asked about his chances, Page offers an optimistic, but hardscrabble response, which has come to reflect his personality. "I find it kind of funny that people ask questions like this, because it really doesn't matter what I think," said Page. "Whatever is going to happen in the race is going to happen. Of course I feel good, and I'm excited about the bike race."
"Fuji, Competitive Cyclist, Clif Bar, in some form or another all my sponsors will be there," said Page. "It's time to perform in the big show."