With three days of racing action behind us, attention is shifting to toward Sunday’s elite races at the contenders vying for the title of National Champion. One of those looking to take the title is Jonathan Page of Planet Bike. He’s made the trip from his home in Belgium to fight it out on Sunday for the Elite National Championship. Cyclocross Magazine caught up with him after some course pre-riding to ask some questions and hear his take on the season.
by David Hutton, Photos by Bart Hazen
CXM: How is the season treating you with the new team so far?
JP: Planet bike has been nothing but good things for me. They’re a good group of people and there’s excellent camaraderie. I am very happy.
CXM: What was the cause of the team change? Was there one?
JP: I finished my contract with Sunweb because I wasn’t happy at all there. Bob actually came last winter to Belgium and we had dinner together, and yeah, from then it was just talking and we came to an agreement. It was very easy. Trying to put the team together with sponsors that I’ve had for a long time, people that im comfortable with as well as Bob, so we built the team around that. No complaints at all. Anything I need is all taken care of, with no worries.
CXM: We recently saw you make a bike change from Ridley to Blue…What was the move about?
JP: Yeah, pretty much the bike switch is just because I had an agreement with Ridley and it just wasn’t coming to fruition. That’s why I switched to Blue Bicycles. I ended on good terms, it just didn’t work out. There wasn’t anything wrong with the bicycles or anything like that.
CXM: Do you notice any difference in performance from your old ride?
JP: It’s a more aggressive geometry. That’s the biggest difference. I like the bike, it handles well. That’s the biggest difference though.
CXM: Is the entire team making the move?
JP: That’s just me. In the future, possibly, we all may be riding Blue Bicycles. I’ve known the guy from Blue bicycles, he’s a long time friend of mine and is supportive, so I called him up and really a half an hour, hour later I had four bikes on the way for me
CXM: What have the responses in Europe been like?
JP: It’s not well known in Europe yet, but when I first debuted them there at the Koksijde World Cup in Belgium, my mechanic Frankie said a lot of people came up looking at them and were very interested so that was pretty neat. Now the plan is to improve distribution in northern Europe and get more representation in Northern Europe.
CXM: How has your season gone in your opinion? Any goals reached? Any surprises?
JP: Of course I was happy at the beginning of the season with several good placings then I kind of had bad luck for four weekends in a row or I was sick so, quite honestly I’m not satisfied yet, because I feel like I haven’t done anything for about four weeks. Now I’m definitely on an up-swing and coming back. I kind of look at the National Championships as a new beginning to my season, so, I hope to make it very good.
CXM: How has prep for nationals gone? Did you try anything different for this year’s championship?
JP: I work with a new trainer now, and my preparation has been more specific. I mean, It’s still bike riding but I do a lot more specific things. Preparation for National Championships has been just dandy. I can’t complain. Like I said, having back luck and being a little sick hasn’t help. Other than that I am on target.
CXM: How is training in Belgium? Do you have training partners there?
JP: I do most of my training by myself. Of course, there it’s still just cold and rainy. It’s still the same old thing for me really. Every once in a while I’ll go riding with my wife and son in the trailer. That gets some funny looks, it’s all good fun.
CXM: Since your last interview I’m sure things have changed in terms of family and life. Is it tough for the family being in another country?
JP: The family is doing well. Obviously it helps when I am doing well and my moral is up more. We’ve been there for a while. It’s always great to come home though.
CXM: Post nationals plan?
JP: I will actually stay another week in America. I will be going to my wife’s parent’s house for a whole week and celebrate some of the Christmas spirit. I’m excited about that because I haven’t been able to really enjoy Christmas and the holidays that much. I will skip the world cup the next weekend and am going to fly back and will start up with the World Cup on the 26th in Belgium. Then worlds, that’s always my major focus of the year. It’s always good to have a good day there.
CXM: Any hope of seeing you race more in the US down the road?
JP: Right now I am making a living doing it. I have entertained the thought of racing in more America at the end of my career. It’s quite a big culture now-a-days here so, that could be a good time to start racing a little more often here. Right now, I have built my life, and my family’s life over there. I’m not finished yet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy, it’s the way to get better.
CXM: I saw you are having you mechanic here in the states? How is that for you?
JP: He’s making it. He missed his flight and is coming in today. Unfortunately because of traffic, to get into Brussels, in the morning, is horrible during traffic time. Normally he takes a train, which is the easiest way to get there during the traffic time, but he had to drive a van in to drop off at the airport for someone so he missed his flight because of traffic.
CXM: What is your suggestion to riders moving into the elite ranks?
JP: Don’t expect big things right away. Focus more here on the racing in the U.S. and try and reach a higher level. If you are going to make the move to Europe, allow some adjustment time and don’t expect too much early.
CXM: Favorite American and European race this year?
JP: Of course the Madison race presented by Planet Bike; Madcross. I would say, so far, there have been a couple epic ones. The Koppenberg race which is right here at my house. It’s a hellish race. Lot’s of mud. Another one that’s closest to my house is the Gavere race. It’s another really tough, tough race. When the weather is really terrible, it makes for epic racing there.
CXM: What’s your favorite part of living in Europe?
JP: I like the culture of racing, the thousands of thousands of people that come out for the cross race. That’s why I race there; people appreciate the racing, and the culture of it. That would be my favorite part.
With only a day remaining following today’s racing action, the elite are set to battle it out on Sunday. Keep an eye on Jonathon and his pursuit of the National Championship. You can follow Jonathan and the other top pros with Cyclocross Magazine’s live coverage of Day 4 of the National Championships, starting with the women’s race at 12:30 (central).