Kaitlin Antonneau at the Planet Bike Cup Day1. © Nikki Cyp

Kaitlin Antonneau at the Planet Bike Cup Day 1. © Nikki Cyp

This week, Pro Cyclocross Rumors and Rumblings takes time to sit down with Planet Bike’s Kaitlin Antonneau, who has been making waves in the American cyclocross scene, routinely beating women twice her age. On top of that, there’s been a bit of a storm brewing over a couple controversial World Cup selections in Belgium, Thijs Al breaks a finger, and the UCI takes a look at their World Cup payment program.

Kaitlin Antonneau Half as Young and Just as Fast

While it may be hard for the run of the mill cyclocross rider to juggle their life and their racing career, Kaitlin Antonneau takes things one step farther by spending her weekdays as a full time high school student, with big time career goals outisde of cyclocross, and spending her weekends as one of America’s rising women’s cyclocros stars. At the ripe young age of 17, Antonneau has been racking up impressive results this season, including a pair of second place finishes over the weekend at Jingle Cross in Iowa City, Iowa.

Antonneau is no stranger to the national stage, however, taking home a handful of medals at the US Cyclocross National Championships, as well as the 2004 Junior Women’s National Title in the 10-14 age division. At the rate she is going, Antonneau will be the major favorite in the Elite Junior Women’s race next weekend in Bend, Oregon. Not only is Antonneau a skilled rider, she’s also well grounded, mentioning “juggling school, training, and traveling to races each weekend has been a challenge this year. Without the support of my team Planet Bike I would not be able to have the results I’ve had so far this year.”

1) What’s your favorite race of this season been so far? What about of all time?

My favorite race of all time is Jingle Cross Rock. My favorite race so far this season would have to be Night Rock at Jingle Cross because it was a blast racing at night under the lights and I had a great race. Climbing up and descending Mt. Krumpit was awesome!

2) You’ve just won a big race, what’s your ultimate post-race meal?

Chipotle bean burrito or pasta and my mom’s oatmeal bars.

3) What’s your biggest career achievement to date?

My biggest achievement so far was at day two of the Toronto International Cyclocross where I was 2nd, and the USGP Mercer Cup Day two where I was 10th

4) If you could be anything besides a bike racer, what would it be?

Well I am only seventeen so when I grow up I want to be a Physician Assistant. If I would do another sport besides bike racing then I would want to be a Cross Country runner.

5) How did you get your start in cyclocross? What’s been your biggest influence?

My mom took me to a local cyclocross race that I did on my Baracuda mountain bike. After that I was hooked. Cyclocross is by far my favorite discipline and always will be. My biggest influences were my mom and sister because they have always been there for me.

6) What was your first bike?

My first cyclocross bike was a Rock Lobster. What sticks out the most about the bike to me is that I got to pick out the colors and it was custom built for me.

7) If you could win one race, which would it be?

Nationals in Bend!

8) Who is your biggest idol?

Katie Compton.

10) Got any crazy pre-race rituals?

I picked up a new ritual this year with my teammate Kristin Wentworth by waking up in the morning and watching MTV while stretching.

Be sure to watch out for Kaitlin this weekend in Portland for the USGP finals, before she moves on to Bend, where she’ll look to improve on her third place finish in the Elite Junior division from last year. Best of luck to you Kaitlin!

Wellens Stirs The Controversy Pot

For years, you’d have never batted an eyelash at the inclusion of Bart Wellens in the Belgian World Cup selection. Wellens is a three time World Champion as well as a multiple time Belgian National Champion. This was not the case at last weekend’s World Cup in Koksijde, where Wellens was the focal point of a team selection controversy. Wellens was selected to the squad despite missing the entire first half of the season with a case of cytomegalovirus. The main victims of Wellens’ inclusion were Rob Peeters and Jan Verstraeten, who were relegated to alternate and dropped entirely from the squad, respectively.

Peeters and Verstraeten were less than pleased, as each had been working their hardest in the first half of the season, and each had logged some excellent results. Both considered openly protesting the World Cup selection, but allowed cooler heads to prevail ultimately, and it was Wellens who took the start, finishing his first race of the season in thirteenth. Peeters did his best to impress the Belgian selection committee – made up of coach Rudy De Bie – by finishing up 13th in Gieten the next day, but it was all for naught, as he was once again left off the starting list for this weekend’s World Cup in Igorre. Verstraeten, however, did enough to warrant a starting position on the Belgian squad.

Thijs Al Breaks a Finger

Thijs Al has been having a season to forget. Al, who was widely expected to carry the burden of Dutch cyclocross with the departure of Lars Boom to a full time road career, has yet to live up to that billing, after meeting with disaster after disaster. In his last road race tune up before the season started, Al crashed and had to miss out on some of the season’s early action. After that, Al had to battle through sickness to get back to top form. Now, after a crash in Koksijde, Al has suffered a broken left index finger, which will keep him out for an unknown amount of time, but which is expected to be on the order of six weeks. Al’s finger is currently in a cast, but he’s hopeful that he will be back in action by the Dutch National Championships.

UCI Considers Altering World Cup Payment Schedule, Calendar and Ranking System

The UCI is taking a long, hard look at the way it spread out appearance fees at its World Cup events. Until this point, riders have been paid appearance fees in order to keep the world’s best riders at their races. Instead of paying appearance fees to certain riders, the UCI is looking at adding that money to the prize amounts and extending the prize list further down the finishing order. The hope is to get an increased number of strong riders from other disciplines to participate in world class cyclocross.

To further assist in this endeavor, the UCI is looking at moving their World Cup calendar to later in the season, to better accommodate mountain bike riders and their hectic early fall schedule. Rather than start things in September, the plan would have the year’s first World Cup staged in October. In the case of riders like Sven Nys and Thijs Al, who race deep into September on the Mountain Bike and require time off to prepare for the Cyclocross season, the early World Cup rounds would not see marquee riders missing or lagging in their fitness.

The final move that the UCI is looking at in terms of the World Cup schedule will come as welcome news for Elite Women racers. As of the 2010-2011 season, the UCI is weighing up requiring all World Cup events hosting a women’s event. Races like Igorre, which will take place this weekend, currently lack women’s events, causing a clear disparity between European men’s and women’s racing.

Wondering what your favorite mudders have been up to? Doing your homework so you can win Cyclocross Magazine’s fantasy cyclocross league next season? We’ve got you covered with our new, weekly report on your favorite top ‘crossers. Each week Jake Sisson will bring you the latest news, gossip and maybe even a tweet or two on the pro scene. This is installment #32. Installment #31 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know!