Three-time US national cyclo-cross champion Todd Wells (Specialized) is changing up his plan for this season's cyclo-cross effort, getting a much earlier start than he did in 2012-13 following the London Olympics.
Wells didn't start his season last year until the very end of October, but this year he's already competed in four races leading up to tonight's Clif Bar CrossVegas UCI C1 race. He won both days at the Nittany Lion Cross in Pennsylvania two weeks ago and competed less successfully during both days of the Green Mountain Cyclocross Festival in Vermont last weekend.
"I think that's more 'cross races this year already than I did all of last year," Wells, 38, said of his season so far. "The reason I started early this year was to try and get some cyclo-cross fitness before CrossVegas. That's really my main goal. I'll still start a little bit later after CrossVegas. I'll take some time off and do some mountain bike races."
Wells currently leads the USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar, although he said he doesn't expect to hold that lead much longer.
"I'll take a bit of a break after this," he said of the Las Vegas race. "I have la Ruta, Iceman and some other mountain bike races coming up that I'm going to prep for, but then I'll come back to 'cross in December in hopes of targeting national champs."
Wells also said a spot for cyclo-cross Worlds is out of the question because he will be training for the multi-day Cape Epic mountain bike race in March.
"To prep for that you need big volume, and [Worlds] just doesn't fit," he said. "The Cape Epic is like the mountain bike Tour de France, so that's a really hard race. Not only does it have hard stages and a hard route, but the competition down there is top class. So to be ready for that race you really have to have the mileage and some good intensity."
Meanwhile, Wells said he believes he's got good form for tonight's CrossVegas race.
"I think my cyclo-cross form is good," he said. "It's just the freshness. I've had a pretty long mountain bike season, and I'm not as fresh as these other guys. But I think my fitness is good, so if I can have some pretty good motivation out there and have a pretty good start and don't get caught up in any stuff I could have a good race."
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and 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, with his imaginary dog Rusty.