With the first World Cup of the Season this weekend, there’s a lot to talk about in pro cyclocross. The United States sends one of its strongest teams to Switzerland, with the likes of current national champion Tim Johnson as well as mountain bike World Cup veteran Adam Craig. Tom Meeusen and Rob Peeters vent their frustrations about Belgian National Team coach Rudy de Bie’s decision to leave them at home. The forecast for the weekend in Aigle, Switzerland, looks to be blissful for ’crossers, but will we see anyone break out disc breaks? Rumors are that Niels Albert has asked Stevens for a disc-brake-equipped bike specifically. Finally, Wendy Simms finds a new team with greater support for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season.
Team USA Sends Its Strongest Team to First World Cup in Aigle, Switzerland, This Weekend
Looking over the start lists for this weekend’s World Cup, the usual suspects are there representing their respective countries. It would not be a World Cup without Sven Nys, Niels Albert, Zdenek Stybar, Bart Wellens, Jonathan Page, Hanka Kupfernagel, Marianne Vos and Katie Compton. These are all racers that we expect to be in the mix at the the top European events. However, this week we will also see Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers, Jamey Driscoll, Adam Craig, Sue Butler and Amy Dombroski toeing the line for the USA.
With such a strong American team presenting itself, one has to wonder whether this has to do with the 2013 Louisville World Championships. Racing at the World Cups is the best way to really test yourself against the sport’s best. Seeing Adam Craig’s name on the start list is a bit of a surprise though. Is he looking to gain a little extra experience with some skinny tires for Louisville or is this World Cup just happening in the right place at the right time?
Belgian National Team Coach Rudy de Bie leaves Peeters and Meeusen at Home Despite Their Early Season Performances
Both Rob Peeters and Tom Meeusen have been left at home for this weekend’s World Cup despite starting out the season strong. Meeusen, a first year Elite, has shown that his years as an U23 are starting to pay off with a fifth place at Steenbergcross, a sixth at the GP Neerpelt and a 10th at the first Superprestige in Ruddervoorde. In response to his non-selection, Meeusen had this to say: “OK, I’m young, but I am under construction. How do I do it now? How do I get to that top level? I now go for three weeks without having a decent race, which I regret terribly. I have trained hard this summer so I have a solid base fitness available. I only lacked rhythm on the track…. Now it’s five weeks before I have to compete at one hundred percent. This is a huge line through my account” (www.kempenactueel.be)
Rob Peeters was left off the list as well, unjustifiably in his view, and had this to say: “I really do not think Rudy should have put Sven (Vanthourenhout) on the list. In the past three races he came out there and was not a factor, and was only sixth at Ruddervoorde. When Tom is left at home because he’s supposedly too young for all these classifications, I will be the next in line. I and nobody else. Congrats on your choice, Rudy, but where is the logic? OK, I had so far have not had that super feeling in my racing. This has to do with me having a cold Saturday, but that has completely disappeared. What have I done wrong? I really do not know,” sighs Peeters, now slated to start Thursday’s Kermiscross in Ardooie (where he finished fifth, right behind Niels Albert and in front of two Belgians who made the team selection). “I must not resist. I ride where they ask me” (www.kempenactueel.be)
Did Rudy de Bie make the right choice by taking Vantorenhout, a racer with many years of experience at the front of the race, or should he have focused on the younger riders that need that experience for the future?
Disc Brakes Coming out this Weekend in Switzerland?
With the weather looking like it will turn for the worse this weekend, mid-40s Fahrenheit and rain, the question that everyone is asking is will anyone bring out a prototype disc-brake-equipped bike?
Ever since the UCI reversed the ban on disc brakes, manufacturers have been scrambling to come up with something to have their racers test before releasing a full production model. There have been rumors of Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Team) receiving a disc-brake-equipped prototype Specialized Crux [Ed.: It was floating around Las Vegas during Interbike/CrossVegas] as well as the photos of Hanka Kupfernagel’s disc-brake-equipped full carbon Stevens Cross from Eurobike. Even Niels Albert, a Stevens sponsored rider, is reportedly clamoring for one to add to his stable.
With riders like Hanka Kupfernagel, Sven Nys, Niels Albert and Zdenek Stybar all known to have strong relationships with their equipment sponsors when it comes to testing new prototypes, will we see anyone rolling around on disc brakes? Or better yet, will it really give them an advantage over traditional cantis?
Wendy Simms Joins Ridley Bikes for the Remainder of the 2010-2011 Season.
In non-World Cup related news, Windy Simms, current NACT series leader, has left the Kona Factory Team and joined forces with Ridley for the remainder of the 2010-2011 season. This is what Wendy had to say: “Norm (Thibault, Wendy’s husband) and I had a chat about what the best ’cross bikes in the world are. I had a conference call with Ridley on Wednesday, top of the line carbon X-Nights shipped from Norco (the Canadian distributor) on Thursday, and I was riding them Friday, racing them with the boys at Cross on the Rocks on Monday. That is pretty PRO. FSA stepped up immediately with parts.”
However, Simms did disclose the real reason that she has decided to ride Ridley’s. “Best part of the deal is my bonus schedule is paid in Belgian chocolate.” As long as she can keep that NACT leader’s jersey on her shoulders, plenty of Belgian chocolate should be coming her way, though we hope she doesn’t over-indulge until after the season is over.