As many of you know, pro cyclocrosser/roadie Jesse Anthony has announced that after the Gran Prix of Gloucester races this year, he will be retiring from cyclocross to pursue road racing as his primary sport. After the summer he’s had, we can’t say that we blame him, as he’s had some amazing finishes and wins, including a stellar Tour of California performance and claiming the Nature Valley overall. But we will miss him in cyclocross, especially here at Cyclocross Magazine, where he’s done some writing of his own in addition to being mentioned with impressive regularity. Issue 15 will include a reflective piece from Anthony as well as a look back at his superlative cyclocross career, but we have a quick catch-up interview with him here.
Cyclocross Magazine: Is Gloucester still your last race, and are you racing at all before that?
Jesse Anthony: I have decided to end my 2011 racing season at the Gran Prix of Gloucester. This has been a very focused road season for me, and I’m really looking forward to taking a break from racing to relax and enjoy some other activities this fall.
CXM: When did you come to the decision to retire from cyclocross?
JA: I gave myself an ultimatum last cyclocross season to focus either on road or ’cross racing. At the end of last season, I was pretty sure it was time to hang up the ’cross bikes and focus on road racing more, but I made the final decision this spring when it was time to work out a contract for the upcoming cyclocross season. I spoke a bit with Anthony Gallino from Cal Giant Berry Farms and he supported my decision.
CXM: What will you miss the most about it?
JA: I am going to miss so much about racing cyclocross. I’m going to miss getting muddy, seeing all my friends in the cyclocross scene, the fun atmosphere, the intense and gritty competition, traveling to cool places, eating strawberries, crazy drunk fans, going through five kits in a weekend, being cold and soaking wet but somehow still having a blast, being made fun of, fighting for position on the first lap, racing with guys named “Thrash”, getting a fleet of new bikes and kits in September … There is so much that I love and enjoy about ’cross racing, and I’ve been doing it for so long that I know I’ll go through some serious withdrawal.
CXM: Who were the most influential people in your cyclocross career?
JA: This again is a really long list. I think it starts with my older brother, Josh, and my dad. I followed Josh into ’cross racing when I was 13 years old, and my dad took us to a bunch of races. Stu Thorne [who runs Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com] helped us out a ton with equipment and guidance, and Tim Johnson had a lot of influence on me at a young age. Mark McCormack taught me so much about bike racing and cyclocross when I was young as well. I also had a lot of support and instruction from the entire Essex County Velo club, including GP Gloucester promoter Paul Boudreau, Sean Sullivan from Mavic, Chris Zigmont, Aaron Millett, and many other guys who gave me a helping hand along the way. Tim has remained a constant companion to me and has helped guide me throughout my career, and Lyne Bessette has always been a supportive friend to me as well. My younger brother, Silas, helped me out a ton over the last four years by being my travel companion and trusty mechanic. Steve Fairchild from Jamis provided great support for years. People like Bruce Fina, Geoff Proctor, Joan Hanscom and Adam Myerson have had a huge influence on my career by providing the best racing scenarios possible through their race series and advocacy with USA Cycling and the UCI. Their vision for growing the sport in the US to where it is today is the reason I could even have a career. Another person who had a ton of influence on me at an early age was Toby Stanton from Hot Tubes. He taught me so much about how to be a professional and credible person both on and off the bike, and he worked tirelessly to give me huge opportunities when I was a budding junior.
CXM: Without you in contention for cyclocross wins, who do you think the top five men to watch this season will be?
JA: It’s going to be an exciting season this year, the field in the US is stronger and deeper than ever. I think you’re going to see some epic battles between Tim and Jeremy, and Jamey is gonna throw some big surprises in the mix this year. I have a feeling Ryan will be back to his old self, and Chris Jones will be consistent as well. Christian Huele is going to take a few wins for sure, and the young guys coming up like Danny Summerhill, Zach McDonald and Luke Keough are gonna turn a lot of heads.
CXM: What has been your favorite moment in cyclocross overall?
JA: Whew, that’s tough to answer. Winning the Gran Prix of Gloucester Elite race in 2007 was a really big moment for me, so was my first U23 National title in 2003, and when my brother Josh and I both won National Championships in frigid Kansas City in 2000.
One last thing Jesse wanted to make sure we mentioned: he is doing a fundraiser around his last race at the GP Gloucestertp raise money for World Bicycle Relief. People can read about it and donate here http://grassroots.kintera.org/active/jessecx
We’ll be watching Jesse’s last race at Gloucester very carefully, so stay tuned for that report.