What seemed nearly impossible turned into reality on Sunday afternoon. Without the financial support of a main sponsor Jonathan Page managed to perform as a true pro at the fifth round of the cyclo-cross World Cup in Namur, Belgium. At the spectacular course on the citadel in Namur the American rider bounced back from behind to finish 15th at the finish.
With this top-15 World Cup result in the bag Page receives an automatic selection for the cyclo-cross world championships in Louisville, Kentucky next month. A mud-clad Page released a sigh of relief and showed a huge smile after crossing the line.
"In terms of taking everything out of it this was my best race of the season. I was out of range some time," Page said.
During the four previous World Cup rounds Page didn't get any closer than 29th place which made a top-15 result seem nearly impossible. When Page crossed the finish line in 29th place after the first lap in Namur he was - once again - far away from a ticket to Louisville. Two laps later he was still only 27th.
"I flatted after two laps on the uphill after the start. At the pit I was riding on the rim. That was some mental training. Already before the race I knew it would be a mental race. It would be very easy to give up," Page said.
"I did not have a great start, to say the least. I didn't know in what position I rode. As the race went on I saw a big group ahead of me. Then I left about five riders behind me in one lap [fifth lap]. Around the course people were informing me about my position. Now, I would be lying if I say that I wouldn't be happy. It's very good for my season and for potential sponsorship. I've been struggling for a long time now so I'm very happy."
The results from the runner-up at the cyclo-cross world championships of 2007 in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium have been moderate, to say the least. His US-campaign in September didn't deliver a win and his Euro-campaign didn't turn things around. His season changed in mid-November when he managed a good 12th place at the muddy course in Asper-Gavere and then a 15th place in Gieten.
Clearly Page's form was improving although that wasn't reflected in his 30th place at the fast course of the World Cup round in Roubaix. The weather in Belgium turned around and muddier courses were present last weekend. On Saturday he barely made it too the start of the race when his camper van broke down on the way to the race. Luckily he managed to get in Essen as he once again claimed a good 12th place and on Sunday he turned his good form into a good result at the highest level in Namur.
"I have no title sponsor, my bike company is sold so I don't know what's going to happen with that. Actually I only have control over myself so that's what I concentrated on. I had two health problems and yesterday I also had a broken mobile home. I still have a lot of work to do. My next goals are the national championship [in Madison] and the world championships."
At the World Cup round in Namur the American national champion Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) was present too. Powers managed to hole shot but failed to turn it into a good result, finishing at a distant 28th place. Clearly in Madison the conditions will be quite different than to those in Namur, showing less elevation and running sections.
"I make it my goal to win the national championships, whatever the conditions are."