UCI Rankings: North America the Next Cyclocross Epicenter?

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Valentin Scherz (r) takes advantage of the American UCI races. © Dennis Smith/dennisbike.com

Valentin Scherz (r) takes advantage of the American UCI races. File photo © Dennis Smith/dennisbike.com

by Kat Statman

Americans hold three of the top 10 places in the UCI Cyclocross World Rankings. In first there is the obvious Zdenek Stybar, a rider who has dominated every early season European race he has entered, but second place goes to America’s own Jeremy Powers, followed by Tim Johnson in third and Ryan Trebon in fifth. And if you look at the country rankings, With three Americans sitting ahead of perennial favorites and winter strongmen like Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Kevin Pauwels and Klaas Vantornout. Swiss Valentin Scherz, who’s based in the Mid-Atlantic cyclocross region, leading the world’s U23 rankings and other Americans and foreign racers peppering the top 40, including Davide Frattini, Justin Lindine, Jonathan Page, Jamey Driscoll, Luca Damiani, Chris Jones, Derrick St John, Geoff Kabush, Jesse Anthony, Tristan Schouten, Barry Wicks, Luke Keough, Adam Myerson, and Christian Heule, one has to wonder if this is finally the turning of the tide for American Cyclocross.

These new rankings have been met with mixed reactions, from the Americans and Europeans who chose to race in the early US races, most of whom are overjoyed with where they sit in the world rankings, to the Europeans who are frustrated with their low placings. Jeremy Powers said via Twitter, “So happy about this,” with a link to the UCI ranking page, while Tim Johnson said, “Feel like I just podiumed at Tour Down Under and now I’m supposed to win the Tour in July. Ha.” The only anomaly in these new rankings is that of Zdenek Stybar. Though Stybar has only raced six races this season, he has taken six wins, more than any other racer, giving him the edge.

To get a better sense of how the reactions played out, we can look at a Twitter conversation between Ian Field, a British ’cross racer based in Belgium, and Adam Myerson. Field said, “UCI rankings. Joke.” Myerson was quick to respond with “@FieldyCX You were still at training camp and I had already gotten second in a C2. It’ll sort itself out. But September races matter.” This conversation really shows us the heart of the issue.

Here in the US our ’cross season begins early and fast with Nittany Lion Cross followed by the CX super week that is the StarCrossed, Rad Racing, Cross Vegas, Planet Bike USGP whirlwind, giving American riders ample time to rack up UCI points. But will this really affect the overall outcome of the world rankings? As Myerson says, “It’ll sort itself out.”  Our season only goes until the middle of December, with the odd January race (Kingsport Cup is a UCI C2 this year in mid-January) whereas the European schedule culminates with Worlds at the end of January, with a few events after that.

Moreover, this might just be a sign of why Americans traditionally have so much trouble in the late season races in Europe. We start racing at the beginning of September and race twice a week every week all the way through Nationals. Whereas the Europeans have not raced a lot in the early season, causing their rankings to suffer, but will be able to hold out and put us Americans back in our place, so to speak. Or is this a sign of the Americans getting serious about ’cross for the 2013 Louisville World Championships, where the UCI rankings obviously will matter?

This leads us to discuss an important question. If Americans are dominating the UCI rankings in October like they are, is the number of UCI races, especially early season ones, in the US watering down the actual meaning of these rankings?

For a complete list of men’s rankings please go here

Katie Compton is no stranger to being ranked #1. © Mark Legg-Compton

Katie Compton is no stranger to being ranked #1 File photo © Mark Legg-Compton

North American Women Take UCI Rankings By Storm:

The North American women are truly taking the UCI rankings by storm with the top three world rankings completely locked, up as well as eight of the top ten (I’ll keep Katerina Nash in the American women group as she lives and spends the majority of her time in the US). Is women’s cyclocross in America really the best in the world? Consider the volume of talent we have here, Katie Compton, dominating in every performance she has had this year. Meredith Miller, first run at Cyclocross World Championships and she puts in a top 20 performance on a technical and slippery course. Sue Butler might be older, but she can really lay the hammer down. Amy Dombroski, every year she shows a little more.  We could go on and on talking about Laura van Gilder, Mo Bruno Roy, Kaitlin Antonneau. American women are taking cyclocross by storm and not looking back.

It seems clear that if we look closely at the women’s rankings, there might be less of a reason to consider the early season American onslaught a problem. American women have been taking the ’cross world by storm for a long time with Katie Compton being a consistent antagonist at the World Cup level over the years and each and every woman above making her mark at a major international event.

What do you think of the rankings and what they mean? Comment below!

The complete Women’s UCI rankings can be found  here

 

 

Cyclocross Magazine, Issue 22, Print and digital subscriptionsHave you subscribed yet? You're missing out if not. Get all-original content and your cyclocross fix throughout the year with a subscription and Issue 23 back copy, with features on Lars van der Haar, Jonathan Page, Elle Anderson and more!
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