Christopher Jones fights to stay on the bike. © Jonas Bruffaerts

Chris Jones pays his respects to the dunes of Koksijde © Jonas Bruffaerts

Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) has had an amazing season, taking podium spots among the best in the US, riding himself to a sixth place finish at Nationals, despite snapping his chain, and representing the US at the 2012 Worlds in Koksijde. We caught up with Jones as he returned stateside, swapping out his knobbies for slicks as he looks ahead to the road season.

Cyclocross Magazine: What did you think of the course?

Chris Jones: Normally I limit my time in the sand to vacation, but I enjoyed the course. Worlds was my first time to Koksijde so in preparation I spent  time reviewing the video of November’s World Cup. While this helped speed up the learning curve, the only way to truly do well on the course is to spend time practicing and racing on it.

CXM: How did you feel on race day?

CJ: It was my first Cyclocross World Championships, so I was genuinely excited and honored. Since there are only a couple of events that a cyclist can represent their country in (Worlds & the Olympics), I felt proud to wear the Stars and Stripes kit.

CXM: What was it like, racing with that kind of huge crowd?

CJ: The crowd was intimidating during warm-up; they were drunk, rowdy and ruthless. Ryan and I were talking in the start area about how distracting the crowd was, but once the race started I went into race mode and didn’t notice the crowd at all.

CXM: How did the race go for you? Did it go how you expected?

CJ: Prior to the World Championships I had never competed on the course. Through training on the course in the days leading up to the event I developed a huge respect for those that could ride the sand well and started to understand what a challenge the race would be for me. With that knowledge, I set what seemed like meager and achievable goals (a) race clean (no crashes) which would then lead to (b) finishing on the lead lap. I did race clean, but little did I know that only 20-something guys would finish on the lead lap!

CXM: What was the hardest part?

CJ: The hardest part was the amount of sand. This is what makes the course so unique and I’m glad it is that way. The sport needs different types of courses like Koksijde, they keep the sport interesting for fans and help us grow as riders by forcing us to expand our skill set.

CXM: Anything happen off camera (since most Americans only got to watch the feed) that we should know about?

CJ:I heard that someone threw a flare during the first lap and it landed on top of one of the disco or beer tents which subsequently caught on fire!

CXM: How did you feel afterwards?

CJ: Disappointed and content. I wanted to have a much better race, but I was content with the fact that I had made my first Cyclocross Worlds Team. That was a goal I had set early on in the season and I was pleased to be able to check that off the list. To have Zach, Jeremy and myself all participating in Worlds capped off a huge season for our team, Rapha-Focus, too.

CXM: Plans for the off-season?

CJ: Off-season? I start racing again on the road with UnitedHealthcare at the Volta a Algarve on February 15th. My off-season will come in June and I’ll spend the time skiing and fishing.

CXM: Did you talk to anyone about how it’ll be next year, with Worlds in the US?

CJ: Other than my U.S.A. teammates I didn’t talk to anyone about it.

CXM: Thoughts on the Belgian domination of the men’s race?

CJ: It was predictable. It was in their own country, they are some of the best racers in the world and they have been training and racing on this course since they were Juniors. They were the best riders on the day and it showed.

View our complete coverage of the 2012 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Koksijde, Belgium including results, photos, journals, bike profiles and videos on our Full Coverage page.