Jonathan Page (XcelLED/Fuji) looked relaxed and happy to be headed back to his family in Belgium as he reflected on Monday’s USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championship race.
“It’s always nicer to win. That’s the only disadvantage of this whole trip. You work so hard and come here for one flippin’ hour and get a flat tire,” Page said as he laughed and threw his hands in the air. “But it’s biking, and I’ve done it for many years. It’s nothing new, but it can take a little bit of wind out of your sails.”
Early during the first lap of Monday’s race it became obvious that Page would be the only rider to challenge Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) for the USA title. Page and Powers separated themselves from the field and started trading blows. Unfortunately, disaster struck when Page took his first clean bike of the race on the first lap.
“I pitted along with Jeremy the second time through the pit, I turned the corner, went down the straight and flatted just before the road section. I just pinched something,” Page said. “It went quickly down. I had some sealant in there but I was riding on the rim the whole time. It went flat almost immediately.”
Page lost valuable time he could never get back. After taking a new bike the next time through the pit he stabilized the gap, but he could never claw back more than a few seconds.
“I was like OK, I’ll try to limit my losses and hopefully come back,” Page said. “But Jeremy is a good bike rider, and it was fast enough, and wasn’t slippery enough where I could make too much gain on him. I would try different lines and was trying different things. I pitted first time through and lost a little time. It was kind of fun."
“I don’t like losing that way, I’d rather nothing happened and we’d be battling the whole time,” Page said. “That would be more satisfying for me to get beat just because I got beat, not because I got a flat tire.”
A return to the USA in 2015
Despite the loss, Page was upbeat about the remainder of the year and about next season, which will likely see him return to the US. He was named to USA Cycling's cyclo-cross Worlds team on Tuesday, is expecting his fourth child in July and feels healthy and fit going into the coming weeks.
The Pages family has toyed with returning to the US for the past several years, and now looks ready to make the jump once the baby is born. It coincides with Page wanting to have more fun with his career, where he can experiment and test the waters in other off-road events.
“I’m really excited,” Page said. “It will fun to be in America. I have most of my sponsors for next winter. I’ll be very happy to race in America. And I’d like to do some mountain bike races and things that I haven’t done, even if it conflicts with cyclo-cross as long as my sponsors are happy.”
If Monday’s race is any indication, Page’s return will add another challenger to Jeremy Powers’ dominance of the past two years.