We’re glad so many of you have enjoyed our story on Matt Kelly, the only American to win a Cyclocross World Championship. The feature on Kelly is in our most recent print issue (which is also available as a digital download). We took a look at his 1999 World Championship winning LeMond earlier today here on the site.
The story of Kelly taking the World title in the Junior Men’s race in 1999 is, truly, the stuff of legends, particularly given the rider’s reluctance to correct the record regarding the lore of his race that’s developed over the years. We’re pleased Kelly took the time to sit down with us and share his reflections on that time and the experience of taking the title and his life after what most would assume would be a life-altering event. It’s as close to a must-read as we’ve ever published, so get your print or digital copy here as we have no plans to run this in-depth feature online anytime soon.
The 1999 race was not Kelly’s first Worlds appearance. He actually raced the Junior race the year prior in 1998 when it was held in Middelfart, Denmark. The title that year was taken by Switzerland’s Michael Baumgartner, followed by Stefano Toffoletti of Italy who took the silver medal and Belgium’s Davy Commeyne who finished third.
Kelly wound up eleventh in the 1998 Worlds race, a fact missed in the results as they flashed across Belgian television. Kelly had a poor starting position, with his teammate taking the more forward position on the grid despite Kelly riding as the reigning US National Champion, and then he was caught behind a crash that left him chasing for much of the race.
The following year Kelly would right affairs and best Belgium’s Sven Vanthourenhout for the rainbow jersey and become America’s first, and to-date only, Cyclocross World Champion.
While we’ve shared it with you before, take a look back at the 1998 race below. And then head over here to watch Kelly make history in 1999.
The 1998 race video seen below was posted to YouTube by Wesley VDB back in January of 2015.
Whatever happened to Matt Kelly? We have the full story for you in Issue 31, and think it’s a fascinating story filled with invaluable life and cycling lessons.