Pro Cyclocross Rumors & Rumblings Week of September 2nd, 2011

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Almost time to break out the pressure washer again!

Almost time to break out the pressure washer again!

by Kat Statman

Wow, Twitter and Facebook have been blowing up quite a bit recently with all of this ’cross talk, but we’re not quite there yet, so slow down with your excitement a little bit, we don’t want to blow a gasket or anything. It is real close though, real close. The international season opener is just a short week away in the humble Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and then the early US onslaught comes (in no particular order) with Star Crossed, Rad Racing GP, Green Mountain Cross, Cross Vegas, USGP Madison and the new Gateway Cross Cup. So what does that mean? That, of course, I have plenty of juicy tidbits of information for you!

First things first, Zdenek Stybar finally remembered that he’s a ’cross racer and not a silly roadie. Jeremiah Bishop wins the Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross. Is it true that Jeremy Powers has hung the road wheels up for the year? Tim Johnson heads to Vermont for the Green Mountain Stage Race, maybe dismounts and remounts will be necessary. Jake Keough takes third in Criterium Nationals and Luke Keough is leading the USA Crits series; is there anything stopping this family? This week’s working man’s edition: For all you non-pro working men who are still looking for glory, recognition and a “little” bit of beer, the Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships is officially “ON” in San Francisco!

Stybar Finally Talks About ’Cross
I am admittedly a big Stybar fan. After watching his previous two World Championship wins in completely different conditions and then his early season dominance last year, how could you not be? He’s got form, he’s got style and, man, when he goes after it, he goes after it! So, when he announced he was going to go to the road with Quick Step I was pretty bummed, another Lars Boom all over again. Don’t get me wrong, Lars is the man and it is sweet to watch him destroy on the road too, but there is something special about ’cross and I still want to see Lars do a full winter again. So, in that light, Stybar has been making me sad this year, not really talking about ’cross on his Twitter page all that much, just his training, where he is, maybe a Twitpic of a cappuccino, but nothing ’cross related. That is, until the other day. He mentioned it and said he would be at the Euro season opener on September 24th in the Czech Republic!!! So, will the road form kill everyone or will he have forgotten how to drive his bike? I’m hoping the former, but, we shall see.

Jeremiah Takes Devil’s Backbone by Storm
Even though it’s not ’cross season quite yet, though yesterday marked the official first day the UCI will allow ’cross races to be held under UCI permitting, there has been a bit of ’cross racing going on … well, sort of. Just down south for those of you from New England and up North for those of you from anywhere south of Virginia has begun the season in earnest with the Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross. This is not officially a race, it’s a ’cross “ride,” consisting of 66 miles of mixed dirt and paved roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. But, it’s timed, and there are definitely gunners on the start line. One of those gunners was Jeremiah Bishop, a mountain bike racer known for his occasional foray into the ’cross discipline. Bishop won last year and was planning on doing that again this year, but Greg Witwer had other plans, until he ripped his derailleur off, letting Bishop solo in for the win. So, with Jeremiah taking the win after about four hours of hard racing, will we see him tow the line on a fat-tired road bike this fall? Probably unlikely, but you never know, the former short track national champion has the spunk to really open it up and give the big ’cross guns a run for their money.

Has Powers Hung up the Skinnies?
We know that Powers splits his time, and effectively, between the road season and ’cross season. So, with riders like that, the question is always, when do you hang up the road wheels for the ’cross wheels. Ideally, at least according Simon Burney, we’d be hanging up our road wheels at least a bit in the summer, but sometimes that’s not too practical. Adam Myerson, unofficially one of the major US ’cross Guru’s,  already hung his up … or at least, stopped focusing on road for the season. So, Jeremy, are yours hung up yet? Well, your Tweets seem to indicate so. Only a week and a half left until it’s time to start sliding around on soft tubulars.

Tim Johnson Gets a Final Weekend of Prep before Cross Vegas
I’ve been asking this question all year it seems like, but is Tim Johnson’s new program what it takes to be a top ’crosser on the international circuit outside of the US? Personally, I think so, but that’s because ’cross is just the coolest division of bike racing (not to say that the other disciplines are not cool, all bike racing is cool!) But we still don’t know whether or not his “traditional” program is going to work out. Will Tim have the leg speed necessary for the grass crit of Cross Vegas? Or will he come into the season a little bit slower a la Sven Nys and then destroy everyone when the courses start to get wet and heavy? All this is a big question mark, but at the very least we know that he’s keeping busy and will be at the Green Mountain Stage Race this weekend and hopefully won’t have to use his dismount and remount skills after the havoc that Irene brought to that part of New England.

Who Can Stop the Keoughs?
Everyone knows about the Keough family (if you don’t, well, Google them or check here or here). They live for bike racing and whatever discipline they put their mind to, they dominate. Jake Keough, a well known face in the New England ’cross scene (though he focuses on the road now) has been racking up some impressive sprint wins this year on the professional road circuit with his United Health Care team. What are these results? Well, the most recent is a third place finish in the US Crit National Championships. Taking a cue from Jake, younger brother Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis) is currently sitting in first place of the USA Crits overall series. Hmmm … Crit racing and ’cross, they seem to go hand-in-hand, don’t they?

Working Man’s Edition: The Real Working Man’s Race
Let’s talk about the non-pro working man today. There is an event out there that caters to this man or woman. Where glory isn’t taking home UCI points and some money. Where how many beers you drank before the race is more important than the perfect warm up on your trainer in the team tent. When it is perfectly acceptable and encouraged to smile and remember that bike racing is the least serious thing in the world (at least one of them). This is the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships. Yes, pro ’crossers have won this event. But, it still gets to the heart of the working man (really, whether you’re a pro or not) ideology that bike racing is about having fun. So, now that Cyclocross Magazine has broken the news that the SSCXWC has been moved to San Francisco, well, it’s on!

 

 

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