Turn up the difficulty. I doubt we'll lose anyone and I'll be more likely to drive 3+ hours each way for 60 minutes of racing.
Pro Cyclocross Rumors and Rumblings Week of November 5th, 2010
by Kat Statman
With cyclocross heading towards mid-season, and already solidly there for us US racers, pro cyclocross rumors and general cyclocross rumors continue to bubble to the surface. This week we have the Dutch and Belgian European Cyclocross Championship teams announcement; An update on Ryan Trebon’s groin injury from Boulder; Katie Compton gets more recognition as the international superstar we all knew she was and will announce a new equipment sponsor next week; Mark Legg-Compton admits that the Boulder Cup course was far more technical than they he originally thought; The Canadian National Cyclocross Championships will take place this weekend in Toronto; Lars Boom has announced his cyclocross schedule for this winter; Kaitlin Antonneau tackles both UCI Elite racing and collegiate racing; Campagnolo enters the electric shifting market with a new drive train (is SRAM next?); The Canadian city of Ottawa bans cyclocross from its city parks, leaving local ’cross promoters to scramble for new locations; Adam Myerson is writing a book?; and, finally, are there too many UCI ’cross races in the US?
Teams Selected for this Weekend’s European Championships
This weekend is the European Cross Championships and the Dutch and Belgian women’s teams have been announced. Racing for the Netherlands will be Daphny van den Brand, Sophie de Boer, Arenda Grimberg, Reza Hormes, Sanne van Paassen, Linda van Rijen and Sabrina Stultiens. A stacked field, look for possible team tactics when they are battling the small, though, strong, one-woman team of Sanne Cant from Belgium. Other notable absences from this weekend of racing will be Marianne Vos and Hanka Kupfernagel. Vos has stated that her season will start in December and she wishes her teammates luck to keep the European championship in the Netherlands. Why is Kupfernagel not on the start list? She has been racing at the front of the big events, especially the World Cups, this season. Maybe she played too much off-season beach volleyball in Mallorca?
Ryan Trebon Gets Over the Groin Pull
This has been a rough season for the American tall man Ryan Trebon. Between his ‘butt cramp’ in Madison and the continuous second place finishes to the dominant Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team, it seems as though he’s falling a little bit behind. Then in Boulder this past weekend on Day 1, he pulled his groin muscle during one of the many sand sections at the infamous Boulder Res course. Is Ryan Trebon going to finally get back to his dominant ways? This past week we’ve learned from his Twitter account and various sources that he has been training in sunny southern California in preparation for the UCI weekend in Los Angeles. Look for a dominant ride by Trebon this weekend, but don’t count out Sid Taberlay and Chris Horner as both of them will be looking to take down the ’cross specialist from Bend.
Stevens Bikes, sponsor of European ’cross superstars including Hanka Kupfernagel, Niels Albert, Marianne Vos and others, knows who the best riders in the world are and supports them generously. This year they have made a huge jump and placed an American woman ’crosser at the forefront of their newest ad campaign. Here in the US we have known that Katie Compton is an amazing athlete and keep our fingers crossed for her continued success nationally and internationally. Now it’s clear that the Europeans have that same attitude, with Katie taking the most prominent spot on the new Stevens Bike poster ahead of those Euros, who are all former world champions.
With Katie’s clear presence as an international ’cross superstar, we’ve also gathered that she’s looking to sign another new equipment sponsor in the next week. Who could she be signing with? Katie has a reputation for being a very picky athlete, only riding what she considers to be the best equipment on the market that will stand up to the extreme demands she puts it through. What new equipment will we see her sporting at the next round of the USGP in Fort Collins? New helmets and glasses? Hydraulic Disc Brakes? New Tires? It will be interesting to see.
Mark-Legg Compton Takes Back his Negative Boulder Cup Comments
Last week we reported on both Mark Legg and Katie Compton’s negative comments pertaining to the Boulder Cup course. In a recent email from Mark, he gave an apology. He said, “Turns out Boulder Cup course was a really challenging course. I slipped out on one of the ever increasing slippery corners during the race.The pre-ride video did make the course look like a grass crit, however Chris at DBC events developed a great course in a creative way that challenged riders’ skills and fitness. My mistake on highlighting this course as the problem with US courses. Next time I’ll ride first before talking.” It is good to hear that the promoters of the Boulder Cup were able to create a technically challenging course that stands up to the scrutiny of this ’cross aficionado, though Legg-Compton did mention that the overall discussion of the technical nature of courses is one that needs to be happening in the United States.
We all know that in Europe cyclocross is not a participant sport like we have here in the US, and since promoters in Europe are not required to cater to lower category racers, they can make the courses as challenging as they want. However, are we at the point where we need to separate the Elite courses from the amateur courses in order to prepare our athletes for racing in Europe? Or should amateurs be subjected to increasingly harder courses around the country by adding difficult sand pits or tricky corners that are hard to navigate? Please chime in below, what do you think about the nature of US courses with respect to US growth in ’cross and international competitiveness?
Canadians To Duke it Out in Toronto for the Honor of the Maple Leaf Jersey
This weekend is the Canadian National Cyclocross Championships in Toronto. On the men’s side look for Geoff Kabush to defend against the on-form Chris Sheppard and Derrick St-John. Will Kabush be able to hold on to the maple leaf for another year, or will Sheppard or St-John dethrone the multiple time Canadian ’cross champion? On the women’s side, look for the battle to be between Wendy Simms, Natasha Elliot, and Cyclocross Magazine‘s very own Vicki Thomas. It will be an interesting weekend of racing and we look forward to seeing who will be donning the red and white jersey for the next year.
Lars Boom has Announced When and Where We Will See Him Racing this Winter
From Lars Boom’s official website, “It was made known today that Lars will be competing in five ’crosses in December and January. Lars will start on Sunday, December 12th, in Overijse, followed by the Scheldcross on Saturday, December 18th, in Antwerp. On the day after Christmas, Lars will compete in Heusden-Zolder, followed by December 29th in the Azencross in Loenhout. In January Lars will line up for the National Cyclocross Championships in Sint Michielsgestel in order to defend his national title.” With a hard schedule of some of the best December and January races in Europe, is there a possibility of Lars Boom coming back to his roots at some point? Though Boom has denied all such rumors, his chosen schedule does beg the question whether or not he is going to attempt a return to the top of the wintery hard man discipline. A better question is whether Boom will compete in the World Championships if he wins another Dutch National Championship. Keep your eyes here for more as the season progresses.
Kaitlin Antonneau has been receiving a lot of press this fall for gaining a spot on the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team, working with Katie Compton as her coach and finishing with top results in a number of UCI race weekends as a first-year Elite. But, is she the next big thing? Well, though she might not have popped up on any UCI results sheets this past weekend, she did dominate a collegiate racing weekend for Marian University, showing her class. Keep an eye on this girl, she’s got the power, skill and support to really make it big!
Campagnolo Finally Throws Its Hat into the Electric Drivetrain Market
In the past few weeks, news and press releases have been popping up all over the internet about the new Campy electric shifting system that was just announced. Campy is not a huge player in the American market, however, with the success of Shimano’s Di2 piloted by many Pro Tour road teams and none other than Sven Nys and Niels Albert on the ’cross circuit, it’s clear that the future is electronic shifting. The questions that we now have are whether or not Campy was able to improve upon some of the potential complaints about the Shimano Di2 system? Or, possibly more importantly, when will SRAM release its own electronic shifting system?
Every year brings big new things in cyclocross tech; let’s see where this electronic shifting brings us.
Ottawa Bans Cyclocross
It was recently reported here and here that the city of Ottawa has banned cyclocross from its city parks. With a full series scheduled already for the fall, the promoters are now scrambling to find new venues. This is bad news for North American ’cross. In the US and Canada we rely on our city parks as venues for most, if not all, of our cyclocross races, and if the city officials determine or wrongly believe that cyclocross is a destructive activity, where will we race? Will we have to resort to hiring out vacant farming fields with ankle-deep dirt and building rickety fly-overs, taking cyclocross away from the public and stifling its growth? I hope not! As racers and promoters, please voice your concerns with your local city officials and do not let your city ban cyclocross!
Adam Myerson has always been an outspoken US cyclocross personality, and he’s been around for far too long to discount his opinions. In some big news, it looks like we will get a whole book of where Myerson and his opinions come from – this week he reported that he has a book deal in the works where we can learn about what made him the person he is today. There is no timing on the release date, but as we learn more we’ll keep you informed. Expect it to be an exciting read as Myerson leads quite the life, while still finding time to win a UCI race, be a coach and promote the oldest UCI race in the US.
Are There Too Many UCI Races in the US?
This final section of this week’s column was inspired by Adam Myerson and the blog post he wrote on the state of US ’cross growth. You can find his article here. As Myerson has stated, there’s a discussion happening in the US about the growth of ’cross and what seems like the over-saturation of UCI races on our calendar here in the United States. But, is this really a bad thing? Is it bad that many racers don’t have to get on an airplane and fly for six hours one way every week just to chase UCI points like they have to in mountain bike racing? Is the structure of our racing calendar really all that different from Europe? This’s a discussion that needs to continue happening and we encourage it to stay open.
As usual comment below, we look forward to your opinions!
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personally, every time i watch the euro races, i find myself wishing for the crazy tech stuff they ride. watching the zonhoven/koppenbergcross doubleheader this past weekend was especially painful in that regard. i may get my butt kicked most of the time by my fellow racers, but honestly i rarely feel my butt has been kicked by the course. if it were possible to be more than 100% pro- harder, euro-level courses, i would be.
that being said... cross is, as you mentioned, a participatory course here in the states. the courses that the pros ride have to also work for the most entry-level of beginners, and often for juniors. on top of that, we have our legendary national liability issues. and, in places like here in portland, we have field size issues. if you were to send an average crusade-size field into some super-sketch tech feature, youd have resulting bottleneck that would completely doom anyone at the backs chances of doing well, and possibly relegate them to being lapped. seriously.
oftimes this gets somewhat solved by course add-ons for the pros, but that just mocks the rest of us, and tacking a bit of tech on to a largely non-sketch course isnt the ideal solution.
im not sure what the ideal solution is, but i will admit to still having my moments of longing for the late-80s norcal jungle cross terror that was my introduction to racing cross. so count one more in for the "please, promoters, make your courses SCARE me" vote pool.
Elite Men, 25.3 km (7 laps)
1 Chris Sheppard (BC) Rocky Mountain Bicycles p/b Shimano 1:00:52
2 Mike Garrigan (ON) Ind at 0:28
3 Aaron Schooler (AB) Team H&R Block 0:47
4 Derrick St. John (ON) Garneau- Club Chaussures- Ogilvy Renault 1:56
5 Craig Richey (BC) Blue Competition Cycles 2:05
Elite Women, 13.15 km (4 laps)
1 Wendy Simms (BC) Ridley - FSA 0:41:08
2 Katy Curtis (AB) Team Alberta at 0:01
3 Catharine Pendrel (BC) Luna Pro Team 0:22
4 Pepper Harlton (AB) Team Alberta/Juventus Cycling Club 0:26
5 Natasha Elliott (ON) Garneau- Club Chaussures- Ogilvy Renault 0:59
One of the cool things about cross is that you navigate the course any way you can; on foot, or on the bike. What's the worst that can happen if the courses grow more difficult? You'll be running more, and those with hard earned skills can run less. Seems like a fair trade-off, while keeping the health, and more importantly, the skillsets needed for every racer, high.
I agree that Katie has a mouth and mind, as well as being fast, as can speak for herself- and should(!), but "a tick to the cyclocross scene"? That's seems just a bit harsh.... don't ya' think?
Katie, turn off the mouth piece for a second, and give us your own opinion. I'm sure you have plenty to say.
I dunno. This is my second season of cross, on a singlespeed; and I've only raced here in Portland, where there's no sand but where there's lots of mud and off-camber wackiness. I'm the total opposite of many 'crossers in that I lack speed but really enjoy handling a bike in very technical dirt and mud (my primary discipline is short-track XC in the summer). Coming mostly from a BMX background (many years ago) I still wish the 'cross courses had more whoops and rhythm and stuff, but it's still a LOT of fun! I'm not sure what I would do if sand showed up at a Portland 'cross course, but I imagine I'd just suck it up and adapt like I've done with everything else. I welcome the wacky turns and off-camber stuff, and I love-love-LOVE the mud -- this is what keeps it challenging and FUN. For heaven's sake, don't make the courses easier.
Make the courses harder! This is coming from someone who has more fitness than skill so there's no bias here. The lowering of standards and requirements is an epidemic in this country. We are turning into wimps if we haven't already. We need our a$$es kicked on a regular basis instead of sitting on them.
The conditioning will come into play when you are redlining going through sand or actually having to carry your bike up a long hill.
It's fantastic that amateurs can ride the same course as a Pro. That's part of what makes cyclocross so special. You watch the pros do what you couldn't do earlier in the day and that's how it should be. Let's raise the bar instead of lowering it.
If a less skilled rider has to slow down or get off the bike to get through a technical section that's how it should be. The growth of the sport means tough decisions and not everyone is going to be happy. But with pain comes pleasure and that is why we race bikes on all kinds of surfaces.
'Cross is both hard and fun. A more technical course addresses both of these.
Should we design courses where amateurs are comfortable or have ones with tricky technical sections and sand?
As new cyclist racing my first year of road and cyclocross I say: bring on the hard courses. I love cyclocross because it is not road racing or grassy crit racing. I love it because it is different. It is hard. It is technically challenging. It is frustrating to spend hours at the park, on the trails, in the volleyball pit, and working barriers on my dedicated cross rig only to show up at a course where some fella on 80's steel touring bike with ratty commuter tires is able to ride away from me because half the course is straightaway and the other half is non technical grass. He's been riding for years and commutes 100 miles a week while I spend time working skills, doing intervals and running. Yeah I could use some more fitness and I know it, but cyclocross isn't supposed to always be about the biggest engine. Cyclocross is a sport where I can make up for some of my genetic weakness and my lack of cycling history through hard work and technical skills.
If we make things easy for "amateurs" or "beginners" then when do we decide they have earned their big boy pants and get to ride the tougher course. Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1, Elite? We already make beginner and Cat 4 races shorter, that should be good enough. There is no reason to get people used to grassy crits and let them think they are racing cyclocross but once they decide they love it and get committed we switch the sport completely on them by making them run and ride technical sections.
People who pretend to be something they aren't on the first date lack self confidence and self-worth. They end up getting dumped later when their real self shows through. Cyclocross doesn't need to be that person. Cyclocross is beautiful because it is challenging, not because it is easy. She is a high maintenance girl and is worth chasing only because she doesn't dispense love without hard work and dedication. Cyclocross doesn't need to pretend to be an afternoon on the couch watching tv just to be appealing to Americans.
But then again I have only raced American cyclocross so maybe I am in love with a sport that doesn't exist outside where I live. But after watching so many Euro cyclocross films I can say I love courses that have any features resembling sand, steps/long run ups, mud, twisting off cambers, high speed single track, sharp corners into sprint finishes and racing where my brain must be utilized as much as my body. Bring it on.
Mark Legg-Compton is like a tick to the cyclocross scene. Who cares that he is married to the National champ?! I have had enough of reading his ad-nauseum promoting, views and rants. It is sad to see the cross media like CX mag, CyclingDirt and CyclocrossWorld giving this guy the time and space to go on and on about how awesome his wife is, what courses suck, XYZ world cup was so hard, what cross racing needs, blah blah blah. Katie Compton is awesome enough on her own, I'd rather hear her interviews. He's like Don King speaking for Mike Tyson. Mark Legg needs to be turned from volume 10 down to about a 2!
There are many racers that have to get on a plane to chase UCI points and a heck of a lot more that choose not to. They live on the west coast.....
I'd like to agree with MBKP, specifically about riding the same courses as the pros. I'm racing my first year of cross, and had the opportunity to race the Boulder Cup course, with all the other 35+ Cat 4 dads. My kids and I got to watch the likes of Katie Compton, Georgia Gould, Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers riding the same course later that day. Watching the men bunny hop the barriers and ride the steep "run-up" made my jaw drop. I also saw TJ put his foot down on a tricky uphill 180 that I could not get right all day, and Georgia crash on a little drop on lap 1. I realize even the pros bobble now and again.
So, if the pros need hard courses, bring 'em on. If I spend more time running, well that will encourage me to develop better technical skills.