Rescheduled 'cross riders rolling with the punches

Expected flooding has caused a headache for the organisers of the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, and they were forced to move the elite men and women's races from Sunday to Saturday, but it seems most of riders whose events were shifted a day earlier are taking the situation in stride.

The change is not because of harsh weather in Louisville, but because of the heavy rains to the north earlier in the week. The water is still draining into the Ohio River basin, slowly raising the level of the water at the riverside Eva Bandman Park course. It began creeping in overnight on Friday, and is expected to start engulfing the VIP tent by midnight on Saturday.

Czech contender Katerina Nash previewed the course early Friday morning and said she was glad the riders were notified in plenty of time to adjust their training for the day.

"It's not a big deal for the racers," Nash told Cyclingnews. "It's better to be safe than sorry - it's better to have the race."

Nash has been in Louisville all week and has trained on the course in the changeable conditions: from mud earlier in the week to snow and ice this morning, but isn't sure what to expect for her 11:00 am start on Saturday, other than that the high water table will ensure it will be soggy.

"It's pretty frozen today, so it was good to test it now in case it does freeze for tomorrow. Whatever happens, I don't expect it to be dry, so I feel well prepared for racing in any conditions."

American Katie Compton also said the change was "a bit of a surprise", but was actually happy to get the race out of the way sooner.

"I'm kind of happy to have the race a day earlier since waiting to race is hard too," Compton said. "The only thing it really changes is today's ride. I'll do everything I normally would to prepare for racing on Saturday now. Seeing that the weather has been so crazy all around the US the last few weeks, its not too surprising the river is going to flood the area.

"I'm pretty good at being flexible and rolling with the punches. We all have to deal with the same changes so I don't think it's too much of an issue for the racers. I think the worst part is the shortened weekend and less time to enjoy it."

Although riders compared the conditions early Friday to the US 'cross national championships, where there was a layer of ice underneath melting mud, Tobin Ortenblad, who will race the U23 event for Team USA, was not expecting things to stay the same.

"I was a little nervous riding on the ice, but after being out there, it's a bit like riding sand and wasn't so bad," he said. The skies were clear on Friday, and although the temperatures were well below the freezing mark, the course was slowly thawing out.

Unlike Madison, Wisconsin, where the US championships were held, the recent summer-like temperatures that preceded the cold snap means the earth is warmer below the surface.

While the temperature is expected to stay below freezing overnight, it will slowly creep up as more clouds roll in. At race time it will be near zero (Celsius) with a 50 percent chance of snow.

Although some riders from overseas earlier criticized the course as being too fast, it is clear that mother nature is intent on throwing up a challenge for the riders and race organisers.

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