One familiar face that won't be on the line in Las Vegas this evening for the seventh edition of CrossVegas is Rapha-Focus rider Chris Jones. With his wife expecting their first child in October, the 34-year-old from Bend, Oregon, is taking his first year off from racing cyclo-cross in seven years. The time off the bike will also allow Jones to focus on his road racing career with the UnitedHealthcare Pro Continental team.
"It's been something that I've been thinking about since the end of last year," Jones told Cyclingnews. "The more that the road team grows and the bigger races we do the more of a toll it takes on me. Now we split time with most of the year in Girona, [Spain], so by the end of the season I just want to go home and hang out in Bend, where I can be with my family.
"So when I found out my wife was pregnant, it was about Nationals last year, I just decided that I wasn't going to race anymore," Jones said. "The final thing was that I extended with UnitedHealthcare, so it was just like, OK, it's time to take a break."
Jones founded the Rapha-Focus team that has become a powerhouse in the States and overseas, with multiple national champions, including Jeremy Powers.
"We went from a small team with just Zach McDonald and myself into this dominating force with Jeremy Powers, Julie [Krasniak], Gabby [Day] and Zach [McDonald]. And last year we had Sabrina [Schweizer]. We had the German champion and the Swiss national champion."
Now Jones is just excited to see where the team and the discipline will go after the big build up for Worlds last year. And he's looking forward to finally experiencing a real off-season.
"Cyclo-cross is in a good place in the States, and I'm happy because I feel like I kind of helped contribute to that," he said. "It's going to be exciting to see how it goes with a new crop of riders. And it will be exciting to see where my road career goes. I'm excited about that, having never really focused on it. So it will be interesting to see what a real off-season does.
But Jones also said fans and other racers will still see him at some local races, which he'll do to keep the team sponsors happy.
"So I'll do Cross Crusade in Oregon and some of the other local stuff," he said. "But mostly I'm going to relax and chill out."
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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