Another week and of course we have more rumors and rumblings about pro cyclocross racers, pro cyclocross, and anything else in between. This week Bart Wellens has dismissed rumors that he will be part of the mass exodus from Fidea; Zdenek Stybar’s win streak is broken by Radomir Simunek; Katie Compton and husband Mark-Legg Compton voice their frustration at the Colorado Cross Classic course designs and sample gluten free Belgian beer; Molly Cameron heads to Japan; The UCI will be getting rid of the cyclocross discipline; There is a cyclocross villain on the loose; and finally, cyclocross history hits the mainstream.
Bart Wellens Dismissed Rumors that He Will Leave Telenet-Fidea, Sort Of:
As reported on wvcycling.com, until further notice Bart Wellens will not be one of the many riders that is considering leaving the powerhouse Telenet-Fidea cyclocross team. Wellens stated, “[The team] gave me an acceptable offer. I can extend my contract by three years and my salary will also be beautiful.” However, though Wellens has been offered a good salary with a team that he has been at the forefront of for many years, the possibility that he would leave is still up in the air. Wellens also told the press, “I have always been honest with [team manager] Hans. I just think before replying. The KDL-team is still working on a concrete proposal. Then I cut the knot.” What happens to Telenet-Fidea if both Wellens and Stybar are given better offers from other teams? Maybe they will look to some of their younger promising riders like Tom Meeusen, winner of this weeks Nacht van Woerden.
Is Zdenek Stybar Losing his Early Season Form Already?
This Thursday at the Radomir Simunek Memorial Cyclocross race in Tabor, Czech Republic, Zdenek Stybar‘s winning streak was broken by none other than Radomir Simunek, Jr. Stybar came in a disappointing fourth place just ahead of top rival Niels Albert. Does this mean that Stybar’s form has dropped and he has lost the dominating fitness he held early on with seven straight wins? Maybe, but he did report on his Twitter page that “Feel tired already before the race. Probably not enough sleep?:( 1hr to go. Memories from January and supporters will wake me up!!!:)” Between this quote and his post race comment, “Congratulation to Radomir Simunek!!!! He deserved the win for his father. I’m happy that he did it! I was fourth!!!!” and, “But I’m more happy that Radomir has won as I did myself 8/8!!! Was very emotional race.” It’s clear that Stybar’s heart was not in this mid-week race, and that we can expect to see him at the front driving the pace for this weekend’s Superprestige and GvA Trofee races in Belgium.
Are US ’Cross Courses Dumbed Down Dirt Road Races?
Many of you are probably familiar with six-time national champ Katie Compton and her husband Mark-Legg Compton. Many of you also probably follow them on Twitter or at least have looked at their Twitter pages to see what they have to say from time to time. This past week we were given a real treat from both Katie and Mark. Katie announced that, “Wow, just checked out the Boulder courses for this weekend, can we say boring road racer courses? Hopefully they are better in real life.” While similarly Mark-Legg told us, “This is why US riders don’t have the skills to compete in Europe. Boulder Cup. http://tinyurl.com/29l962k Aigle. http://tinyurl.com/22jrcz9.” Are US courses too easy? Personally, I’m a fan of technical courses and tend to not like grass crits, so to speak. However, I do recognize a need for a course that would be enjoyable and fun for amateur categories as well as a challenge for the Elites. Where do we go from here? Please comment below on this issue – where do you stand, should we be making more technical courses in general, or should we have two different courses for the Elites and the amateur categories?
This is not the only Katie Compton news we have for you this week. From Drunk Cyclist: “Right now, as I type this, Dominic is actually waiting on Katie and her family at the restaurant he serves and bartends. Katie is gluten free now, and Dominic has a hook up on gluten free Belgium beer.” Gluten free is definitely the hot ticket diet among cyclists right now. But what do you do if you are a ’cross racer; can you really give up Belgian beer, or beer in general for that matter? Well, we don’t have to – apparently there’s gluten free Belgian beer out there. Now if we only knew what Katie was drinking!
Molly Cameron Goes Across the Western Pond
This season Molly Cameron has really been stepping things up with her business, Portland Bicycle Studio, her racing and it seems like everything in between. If you are going to go big, well you better really go big. Currently, as reported from her website , Molly is in Japan to sample the local cyclocross flavor. She will be racing at the NOBEYAMA cyclocross race this Halloween weekend. But is going to Japan as good as Belgium? It seems so, just look at her Twitter mention of Barry Wicks, who has plenty of Japanese cyclocross experience himself: “@wicknastyb wish you were here with me and we could bitch about Japan feeling like Belgium.”
Now For Some Fun Stuff
UCI and Cyclocross Split?
It was recently reported in a European newspaper that the UCI will be ridding itself of the ugly stepchild we love, cyclocross. But do not fret dear friends, the leaders of the ’cross campaign will keep us going with a new version, cyclosand. We may be losing our ‘motherland’ of Belgium, but we can adopt Dubai as a new center and learn how to handle the heat and sand in a quest to race our cyclocross bikes.
Until this day comes we must keep an eye out for a cyclocross villain that is on the loose. He will do everything in his power from stopping the greats from winning races. He will try to make your bike fail and if all else fails he will try to blow you up. Click on @2:07 to start.
Cyclocross Hits the Mainstream
You’ve all probably seen this video, it truly is excellent. However, you may not know that it is currently the fifth most Tweeted sports video. What does this mean for us ’cross lovers? We’ve hit the mainstream baby! This video is testament to the great and challenging history of cyclocross, so sit back, drink some coffee or beer and enjoy.
Turns out the Boulder Cup course was waaay crazy technical. The video did it no justice at all, and as you know by now, Katie had to drop out due to a crash in one of the VERY off camber corners were there were hundreds of crashes. It was great CX racing and a super fun and very tough course.
I have not seen any of the courses in Europe in person but I wonder how they would compare to a typical northwestern USA course. "Grass crit" does not come to mind in describing most of the courses here, but that may have more to do with weather and that most races here are really muddy. Anyone?
Katie and Mark are right, with very few exceptions US cross courses are very easy compared to top tier European ones. The idea that there is a need for separate elite and amateur courses also seems ridiculous to me, since the young junior category in Europe (16 and under) tackle the exact same courses as the elites and have no problem. Maybe it's fear of being sued, but no US course is as challenging as Gavere and there would certainly be many complaints here if there was such a difficult descent with trees near the bottom like there is in Gavere. Nonetheless, it seems obvious from several riders' focus on cross for 2013 that unless US cross courses become more technical then the best chance for an elite US cross medal will be on a US grass crit. It is also a terrible shame for the spectators that the courses here lack technical spectacles because some of our US riders are great technical riders (Tim Johnson and Katie Compton immediately come to mind) yet we rarely if ever get to see them challenged technically domestically.
I did not know Molly was a woman. I wonder why she races with the men all the time, with that kind of skill and speed she could be well up the UCI ranks in the womens racing. She was throwing down pretty well at Vegas and Krosstoberfest in the UCI mens races this year and putting the hurt on a lot of us.
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. However, that said the same basic conversation remains. US courses are not challenging the pro field often enough to raise the level of skills to match the European courses. There are valid counter arguments since not all race promoters can chew up their local city parks like the Belgians. However, there are creative elements that can raise the level of fitness and skills required to race at the Pro level. UCI3 Java Johnny's race in Ohio is a good example of taking a local small park and turning it into a challenging course. I'm sure there are more examples of challenging courses that I'm not aware of. I watch our young riders, male and female race in Europe, they are all handicapped by a lower skill level compared to the European competition.