World Cyclo-cross Champion Erwin Vervecken will get his first taste of America's rapidly improving cyclo-cross domestic scene at the Whitmore races in Southampton, New York on October 6-7. The event will be his first American race since 2001, when he raced in Las Vegas and Gloucester. Back then the American scene was considerably smaller, but now, Vervecken acknowledges, things are different. "You used to hear not so much about cyclo-cross in America," he said. "Now we read about it all the time."
Vervecken made it clear what motivated him to endure jet-lag in order to race in the US. "America has the money," he said with a smile, but added that the growing American 'cross scene is another motivator. "Of every place in the world, cyclo-cross is growing fastest in America. It used to be that Europeans laughed at American bike racers, then came Greg Lemond and Lance Armstrong. Now road bike racing is so big in America that European riders want to go to America to work."
The 'cross scene, Vervecken theorised, could catch up with the road scene because it's more practical. "There are not so many places in American where you can shut down road traffic for a bike race; the economy has to keep going. Even in Europe this is becoming a problem for cycling. But there are lots of places to do cyclo-cross." With spectator-friendly venues, the racing is easier to follow and more exciting - something that presents increased business opportunities. "In America they don't even charge people to watch, crazy! For me, this is the future. There are big companies in America. When cyclo-cross gets big in America like road cycling, then it means more money for everyone -- even in Belgium."
More money is just what the women who head to New York will be getting - the race will have the unprecedented status of having a higher prize purse for the elite women than for the men.
Location: Southampton Youth Services Park, 1370a Majors Path, Southampton NY, 11968
Daily Schedule -- Saturday:
Daily Schedule -- Sunday: