By Kat Statman
It has been a long time since a little bit of R&R have graced these hallowed (web)pages, but, there is a time at which things calm down and the world comes back together for the triumphant return of Pro Cyclocross Rumors & Rumblings. As we all slowly get over a turkey coma or vegan turkey coma today, let’s sit down and think a little bit about what has happened and what we have to look forward to in the heart of the season. Is JPow the American Sven Nys? Are you ready for the impending Vos-Compton (and maybe Nash) duel? Was Nys right to say that Boom’s switch to the road has left him lacking in the field? Is Nys back at the 2006-2007 levels or has the field weakened? Has the US come up with a better model for women’s cyclocross than the Euro’s?
While the connection may not have been made, yet, I’m ready to go for it: is JPow the Nys of American cross? Have people not noticed this, every time the race is an important one — USGP, UCI C1, or even World Cup — he seems to be able to show up and put in the ride he needs to for the day. It’s just uncanny what he’s been able to do this year. But now we have to see whether the others — TJ, Trebon, Kabush — can step up and make Louisville a North American show and not the Belgian show we saw last year in Koksijde.
The women’s season has been pretty exciting so far, tight battles at the World Cup level, tight battles at the USGP, and all sorts of downright excitement in women’s racing, but it is going to be even more exciting soon with the impending return of the dominant Vos. But, with Compton riding so well and so calmly this year, the battles will be even better. With the stronger and stronger women’s fields, the World Cup is going to really start lighting up. But now is the time to starting thinking about Louisville and how that will stack up. Here’s my vote: we are going to see come to the line for an exciting sprint: Vos, Compton, and Nash. The Louisville course has a little bit of everything for them all and they won’t be able to shake each other. But in a sprint, my bet is for Vos again.
With these discussions of the exciting nature of women’s cyclocross, are we seeing a rise in the level of US racing because of our model of respect and equality? Thanks to the long term advocacy of Georgia Gould and many others, equal pay-out is now a constant throughout our major races, but not only that, some of the top women of the world are coming over here to race our races. Look at Helen Wyman, this year’s Koppenbergcross winner, making two separate trips across the pond. While Belgium is the place to go and will likely be for a long time, maybe with a more respectful and appropriate model (no 10 a.m. start times for elite racers) we will see the US hit the forefront of women’s racing and take the crown away from Northern Belgium.
Recently, Nys made some comments about Boom and Stybar and their leaving the field. With both of them taking the weak-sauce route of starting the season off at the Boonen and friends charity event (great event for a great cause, but definitely not a race for true field drivers). With both of them set to return soon and the comments that the switch to the road have made them lose their touch, will Boom turn on that champion riding form we all know is in there and hit the front of the field? For all of us fans, I hope so, but, the limited UCI points he has will definitely make it hard. Maybe the call to share points between road, mountain, and cross has something to it.
To keep on the Nys topic, something else we should note, is this the Nys of 2006-2007 again? It is starting to look like it, dominant in every race and simply able to bridge the gap exactly when he needs to. Not only that, but in Hamme Zogge refusing to bridge the gap in order to keep the pace high and then hitting the front to destroy everyone, then take another 30 seconds back in the overall of the Bpost Bank Trophy. If the weather stays this way, we may just see another one of those dominant season long performances with an off day in Louisville.