Mud machines close out the season

Race Tech: 2008 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, February 16, 2008

With 40,000 'cross fans over two days and good weather, the 2008 UCI World Cyclo-cross Championships in Treviso, Italy ended with a celebratory spray of confetti. After a great weekend of racing at the reclaimed gravel pit of Le Bandie, Cyclingnews combed the team boxes for new and interesting cyclo-cross equipment.

World 'Cross Champion Hanka Kupfernagel is German through and through: she was voted the country's most popular women's rider and is sponsored by Focus Bicycles, a German brand created by her partner Mike Kluge, who has also won the 'Cross Worlds on several occassions. Kupfernagel's Cross Team frame is a fairly standard machine, foregoing carbon fiber for more conventional triple butted 7005 aluminium configured in a classic 'cross design. SRAM has sponsored the star since 2006 and Kupfernagel rode the Chicago company's new Red groupset to its first ever 'cross world championship, with Red levers poised on an FSA bar and stem and mated to a Force crankset and rear mech.

One year after capturing the U23 world 'cross championship, Dutchman Lars Boom added the men's elite title to his palmares as he rode his Colnago C50 'Cross across the line to victory in Italy. The purpose-built C50 'Cross differs from the standard C50 road model in both geometry and design with different tubing specs and a 'cross-specific fork and rear triangle with extra clearance for wider tires. A "Freuler"-style elongated seat lug provides additional seatpost support for a more stable and rigid ride, but the extension also allows room for the unusual rear brake cable routing, which is run directly through the seat tube via a stainless tube borrowed from a linear pull mountain bike brake. Boom's bike was fitted with a Dura-Ace carbon fibre wheelset and 10-speed drivetrain with narrowly spaced 42/46T chainrings up front, a 12-25T cassette and XTR SPD pedals.

Belgian champion Bart Wellens was using Ridley's newest X-Night equipped with an integrated post and sharp-edged styling akin to the company's road-going Noah. Component choices include a Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain, Challenge Grifo tubulars and a host of bits from 4ZA, the parts arms of Ridley. Wellens is famous not only for his riding but also now for his exploits on-screen with his Belgian reality TV show, "Wellens en Wee". Enthusiastic supporters weren't satisfied with just watching Wellens on television for the race, though, as they made the journey from Belgium to Treviso.

American Jonathan Page of New Hampshire was runner-up in the 2007 Elite 'Cross Worlds but unfortunately had to settle on a less than satisfying season this year. Like Wellens, Page's Sunweb team is sponsored by Ridley but Page competed aboard the existing X-Night model instead of the updated version.

Fellow New Englander Tim Johnson had better success this season, winning the US 'Cross Nationals and earning the coveted stars and stripes jersey. Johnson piloted his signature-model Cannondale XTJ, equipped with an Optimo aluminum frame and Easton carbon fibre fork all powered by SRAM's Red groupset. Spiffy yellow brake hoods neatly match the XTJ's color scheme.

Liquigas pro Enrico Franzoi is also sponsored by Cannondale and like Johnson, Franzoi's machine has an Optimo aluminum frame and Easton carbon fibre fork. Franzoi's bike is outfitted differently, though, with Fulcrum RacingSpeed carbon fibre hoops, a fi'zi:k Arione saddle, red-accented team-only Campagnolo Record levers, and an FSA bar and stem.

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