by Dan Seaton
Fresh on the heels of Katie Compton’s announcement that she will ride for Planet Bike this season, Cyclocross Magazine caught up with her new teammate, Jonathan Page. Page, who rode for Planet Bike during the 2008-09 season as well, told us earlier this year that he did not have a deal beyond 2009 and had even considered leaving the sport if a contract did not come through (see issue 7 for more). Page now could confirm that his contract would cover all of the 2009-10 season and, although he could not confirm the details of his contract status beyond that, he did share a decidedly optimistic outlook on the future.
Page told us he was glad to see Compton in the Planet Bike fold, but that he hadn’t played any part in bringing her there. “Bob Downs is just a great guy that wants to support cyclocross any way he can,” he said. “Katie is a great rider that was in need of sponsorship. She didn’t need me to do anything!”
Both Compton and Page, two of the United States’ most accomplished riders at the international level, share similar approaches to the sport, focusing on racing in Europe for most of the season and preferring to operate essentially independently. Planet Bike, said Page, is a natural fit for riders like them. “Planet Bike is an awesome main sponsor,” he told us. “They are not interested in controlling the rest of my sponsors. That’s why I have my own ‘team of sponsors’ and Katie has hers. And other than Vegas and Madison, there are no requirements. I am free to do whatever is best for me, my training, my racing, my family.”
Despite the relatively relaxed organization of the team, Page told us that Planet Bike and its management offered a level of camaraderie he had not encountered before. “If they have a team dinner, it’s fun!” he said. “And the family is more than invited, so we want to go. But if we don’t, it would be no big deal. They throw parties—same deal, we want to go. They make me feel like a superstar, even though I’m just a cross racer. Planet Bike just wants me to do the best races and training for me and they support the same goal I have had for years: get on the top step at the World Championships. They also like my family and have made them feel very welcome, quite a change from any other ‘team’ I’ve been on. I think Planet Bike would be a good fit for anyone that they’d take because they are so willing to listen to what’s important to the rider and are just, honestly, good people. I’m lucky.”
It would be an understatement to say that Page had a difficult 2008-09 season. After strong results early in the season in the US, Page results were marred by crashes, injuries, and a missed doping control at the World Cup in Koksijde, Belgium. The missed test, which followed a serious crash in which he sustained a concussion, could have resulted in a two-year suspension from professional cycling, but a US Anti-Doping Arbitration Panel threw out the doping violation.
He also told us that he was looking forward to fewer distractions from his two priorities: racing and family.
“We have decided as a family that we need to make a few changes to help us succeed and be happy,” he said. Among the changes in routine were more time away from distractions and the addition of a sports agent who could handle contract negotiations and other opportunities. Page and his wife, Cori, have done much of the work on negotiations themselves in the past. “[The agent] has given me a lot of opportunities and deals and hope that this will turn into a career for me even after my racing is done,” he told us. The Pages, who have lived in Belgium for several years, were also working on buying a house in the United States to allow them to spend more time with their extended family and more time racing domestically during the summer.
With three primary sponsors lined up for this season—Planet Bike as title sponsor, along with Blue Bicycles and EDGE Composites for wheels—Page said he was ready to start racing. He told us he would start the season off with a series of appearances in Bend and Seattle, racing Starcrossed, Cross Vegas, and his own title race, the Planet Bike Cup, in Madison, and even sticking around to attend New England Worlds at the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester on October third and fourth!
This year, he said, he would be happy just to survive the season without disaster, but did have aspirations to improve on last year’s results and still have time to focus a little on his family. “I want to podium a few more times than in the past,” he said. “I’d like to podium at Koppenberg because I have a little side bet going. And of course, I am really focused on the Worlds. I have to work on getting myself out in the public more. I also want to have a more calm, less stressed year and continue to take opportunities to travel and have fun with our kids.”
And with his most difficult season ever behind him, Page told us that he was very happy where he was now. “My goal for the last year or 2 has been to find sponsors that wanted to sign on for the long term,” he said. “If Planet Bike wants to, I will definitely stay with them for the remainder of my career and beyond. They are supportive, in good times and in bad, and are just really good people all around.”