Katie Compton and Marianne Vos – both bike racing chameleons. File photo by Bart Hazen
by Kat Statman
It’s the thick of classics season and all we can think about is the smell of embrocation, rain soaked fields, 32 millimeter tubulars and practicing our dismounts and remounts. But we still have a few months before we start pedaling a bit harder and really preparing for the weekly battles. Until then, the King of ’Cross (Sven Nys) goes digital; Marianne Vos just doesn’t stop; Lars Boom, Steve Chainel and Bjorn Selander are all slated for Roubaix; Todd Wells is resplendent in the stars and stripes; UCI lays down the law (again!); and Paris-Roubaix is not the only Roubaix that will have ’crossers toeing the line.
King of ’Cross Goes Digital
Sven Nys made his way to twitter, but you’re going to have to learn Belgian first. Sven Nys has been one of the top ’crosser’s that has held out on the 140 character world of twitter until this past week when he “joined the conversation.” That’s great for us pro ’cross fans as we can now know what the King is up to, if you speak Flemish. [Actually many twitter readers offer built-in translation features – so we're in luck!] So far he has been mostly silent, but with some time his twitter life should become more interesting as he masters the world of 140. Then again, he may go the way of Niels Albert and stay silent.
Marianne Vos, the Energizer Bunny?
The current women’s Elite ’cross world champion clearly has no intention of slowing down anytime soon as she has continued to ride at the front of what seems to be any discipline that involves pedaling a bicycle. Since the Cyclocross World championships, she has competed at track Worlds and stormed away with another rainbow striped jersey in the scratch race. Vos’ domination of women’s elite cycling has not stopped there; just yesterday Vos powered her way to another race victory at the first stage of the 2011 Energiewacht Tour. Is there anything she can’t do?
’Crossers at Roubaix?
Which ’crossers were able to make the cut for this weekend’s Paris-Roubaix? The first two on the list are givens, with Lars Boom and Steve Chainel (two stand out road and ’cross racers who have been showing their mettle all season long on the pavement and dirt). A name that we hadn’t picked up on before though, and that many Americans will recognize, is that of Bjorn Selander, the former US Junior and U23 Cyclocross National Champion. Bjorn has made a complete switch to the road, as far as we can tell, but his ’cross pedigree is worthy of a mention. With his experience bouncing around and riding on squishy tubulars, though he’s young, he is perfectly suited to the hard cobbled classics, and maybe he’ll take up the reins. But Roubaix is a big day, and there are some big motors gunning for that cobblestone trophy.
Todd Wells’ Early Season off to a Good Start
It’s absolutely amazing how fast pro racers (of any discipline) can switch gears and go from zero to 60 in no time. Marianne Vos took a gold medal at the ’Cross World Championships and then did the same at the track world championships. But Vos isn’t the only one able to switch gears so quickly. Current US ’cross national champion (also cross country and short track mountain bike national champion) Todd Wells has come into the 2011 mountain bike season guns a-blazing at the Pan American Continental Championships in Bogota, Colombia. Unfortunately, Wells was not able to take home gold, but he did put himself on the podium just behind American Jeremiah Bishop and Hector Leonardo Paez Leon of Colombia. After a few more of the VO2 Max efforts, expect to see the results to keep rolling in for Wells as he tackles the World Cup mountain bike circuit.
UCI Continuing It’s Crackdown?
It has come to our attention recently that the UCI is intending to continue cracking down on which races “pro” racers are allowed to compete in based on what class team they are racing for. The biggest piece of the puzzle is that the UCI will enforce the rule that bars any rider carrying a Pro license on a Continental team, riders who are not barred from racing non-UCI, USAC events, from racing any non-USAC events. This is clearly a huge hit for two outlying regions of the US, Oregon and Colorado.
We know that the UCI sometimes has a tendency to take a hard line with it’s rules while looking the other way with many other rules. This rule isn’t new to the books–and in fact recently came to prominence when Pro Tour teams sent riders to the Tour of the Gila. The riders were forced to race in different kits, with Lance, Levi and Chris Horner donning Mellow Johnny’s garb. The rule also stipulates how many non-UCI/USAC-sanctioned Gran Fondo rides pro riders may participate in.
The UCI has already started a frame certification process which will include cyclocross frames. With this recent crackdown, what kind of enforcement are we going to experience during the 2011 ’cross season here in the US? Is this going to affect those ’crossers who also race road for Pro Continental and Continental teams like Jeremy Powers and Chris Jones? Furthermore, what’s the rationale behind enforcing these rules now? Does keeping Pro riders out of big regional events really help anyone? Or is this tactic designed to further squeeze the independent sanctioning bodies? Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
Northwest ’Crossers Line Up for Cherry Blossom Stage Race
Racers from around the Northwest congregated in the Dalles, Oregon, for the third edition of the fabulous Cherry Blossom Classic stage race last weekend, and cyclocrossers were prominent in the event. Paris Roubaix veteran Ian McCissick, who used to ride for BMC won the event, but it was 16 year-old Logan Owen (Hagens Berman), the six-time Junior national cyclocross champ, who struck first. Owen had an incredible ride in the first stage to make the early break, stick with it, and win the sprint to the line–on Junior gears! Owen’s teammate Steve Fisher, who’s the Div2 Collegiate ’cross champ, had his shining moment on the final day’s queen stage, where he’d finish in fourth and move up to sixth overall. Other notable ’crossers included Megan Chinburg (Upper Echelon Fitness), who won the Elite women’s crit. Kona’s Sean Babcock raced his first Elite road events–on his carbon Major Jake ’cross bike. And Cyclocross Magazine itself was well-represented: Contributor Laura Winberry worked her way onto the Cat 4 women’s podium for the final stage and took fourth overall in her first-ever asphalt competitions, and our editor Josh Liberles (HPC Chiropractic-Alpine Mortgage) scored top-10s in both the time trial and crit in the Elite men’s event.
Not Just Paris-Roubaix but Also Mead-Roubaix (formerly Boulder-Roubaix)
This weekend is not only the infamous Paris-Roubaix but also the well-known and patently difficult Mead-Roubaix race. With a large number of ’crossers residing in Colorado you’d think that many would be pinning a number to tackle the dirt roads of the Front Range. You’d be correct. On the list of possible winners that are also ’crossers we have Danny Summerhill, Jake Wells and Colby Pearce. With conditions being uncertain as of now, it’ll be interesting to see if one of these guys can take home top honors in the 78-mile circuit that is composed of 66 percent pavement and 34 percent dirt road.