CXM Shutterbug and Correspondent Joe Sales has been doing double duty as a writer and photographer in Italy, providing us with great summaries and awesome photos. He sent in this Day 1 summary below. Like what he’s doing? Drop a kind word in the comments below. View his Day 1 Photos here.

2008 World Cyclocross Championships: Day One

Day one of the 2008 Cyclocross World Championships in Treviso Italy was conducted on a bright, sunny and unseasonably warm day that few American cyclocross fans would consider typical “cross weather.” Although bad weather and cyclocross often seem like two inseparable lovers and it’s difficult to imagine one without the other; today’s racing on a dry and fast course remained quite challenging for the racers and produced two worthy champions.

The Junior men raced in the morning and US National Champion Luke Keough had an impressive start making the initial split that lead the charge up the brutal and challenging 28 percent steep pitch that greets riders early in each lap. Although he was never able to quite reach the front of the race, Keough was able to maintain his early advantage over the majority of a very scrappy and determined group of young racers and produced a respectable 10th overall. Keough, like all of the US Junior team except Steve Fisher, is a first year Junior and his impressive ride today bodes well for the future of American ‘cross. Gavin Mannion finished 32nd, Steve Fisher 40th, Zach McDonald 42nd and Eric Emsky was 53rd.

The Junior race was won by pre-race favorite Jouffrey Arnould ( France) who spent the entire race playing cat and mouse with a pair of riders from Slovakia and the Czech Republic but managed to drop them both on the 9% uphill sprint finish winning the race by several bike lengths. Arnould was so overjoyed with his victory he shed tears of joy at the finish line and only seemed to gain composure when he finally donned the World Champion’s Jersey on the podium.

The U-23 race was billed as Niels Albert’s (Belgium) big chance for redemption after last years disappointing loss to Lars Boom at the 2007 Worlds. Albert, in his last year as a U-23, wasted no time in putting his stamp on the race and charged to the front of the race at the sound of the starter’s gun and dropped the entire field at the top of the run-up. As Albert rode alone for the remainder of the race he never looked quite comfortable and never seemed to be overly taxed or challenged. The riders are wearing computer chips that record lap times for every rider and Albert’s first lap was by far the fastest of the day. For race fans it was a bit of a snore-fest and ended playing out like a coronation of the young rider. Next season when the super talented Albert moves up to race in the elite field it will be interesting to see how the young prince fares against King Nys.

The American Team of U-23 riders had a good day racing against a very fast European filed. The U-23 squad, all veterans of Geoff Proctor’s Eurocross Camp, knew from past experience that they were up against a very talented and speedy field. Many Americans made the trip over to Treviso including a sizable group from Portland that could be heard cheering the American U-23 squad. Considering the talent of Albert it quite an achievement to remain on the lead lap, a feast that was accomplished by the entire US squad. Jamey Driscol was 34th, Nick Weighall 43rd, Chance Nobel 44th and Carson Miller finished 45th.

For the final day of racing expect more sun and a fast dry course. Katie Compton has confirmed that she will start the race but she is not optimistic of a good result.

The US Team had a surprise last night when thieves attempted to break into the team van storing the race bikes. Fortunately they thwarted the thieves but the Belgian and Great Britain teams were not so lucky and are said to have lost several bikes.