Teams add some fresh flavor, Cyclocrossers win it on the road, Powers, Johnson head to the dirt, Highlights from the week’s Euro road action

New Faces, New Places

Fidea and Revor have announced new signings for the coming year, cashing in on some up and coming young talent that will add to their already strong teams. Fidea has added the young Dutchman Corne Van Kessel to their lineup. Van Kessel notched a big result last year in taking home the silver medal at the Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, coming in second to Tijmen Eising. Van Kessel will join the squad of Bart Wellens, Zdenek Stybar and Kevin Pauwels on September 1st,  and will strengthen the already powerful youth section of Fidea, alongside Tom Meeusen.

Mariusz Gil will also be moving teams for the coming ‘cross season, having signed a contract with the Revor team, joining the likes of Erwin Vervecken. The young Polish rider had some strong results on the season, and will begin his term with Revor in April of 2009. Gil took home the silver medal in the 2003 World Championships in the espoirs category, and while he has yet to live up to the hype surrounding that finish as an elite, Revor may just be the stepping stone he needs to really hit the big time.

He May Be Retired, But He’s Still Spritely For An Old Guy

Mark McCormack continued his winning ways, taking home the victory at the Chris Hinds Memorial Criterium in Charlestown, Rhode Island. Mark the Shark took the win 3 seconds ahead of US Under 23 Silver Medalist Nick Keough who sprinted home for second, 3 seconds behind the former cyclocross and road National Champion. Cyclocross ruled the day as young gun Gavin Mannion took home third place, after being outsprinted by Keough. Another 10 seconds passed before 4th place crossed the line, showing the true power of cyclocross.

Cyclocross Stars Head To The Dirt Roads

Two of America’s most popular cyclocross riders will be taking their road bikes to the dirt this coming weekend. Tim Johnson is set to toe the line of the annual Tour of the Battenkill (otherwise known as Battenkill Roubaix). Battenkill is well known for its treacherous dirt roads and hilly terrain and has a reputation for bringing out the real nails in the peloton. If anyone in cycling is known as a nail, it’s Tim Johnson, who is aiming to add a road win to his season.

Jeremy Powers will also be sampling the dirt roads of America, but a bit farther north than his Cannondale/ teammate Tim Johnson. Powers will line up for the Paris-Ancaster, a 60 kilometer road race that tours some of the dirt and cobbled roads of Ontario Canada, on Sunday and will hope to take home the title. Powers promises to be a headliner of a race that features only 8 kilometers of paved roads.

Marianne Vos Racks Up the Top Placings

Women’s Cyclocross World Champion Marianne Vos, following a star performance at the women’s Tour of Flanders, returned to her winning ways over the last week, winning the Internationale Novilon Dames Ronde van Drenthe on April 11th. Vos outkicked a lead group of 5 riders to take home the victory. The day’s course featured many cobbled sections that challenged the riders bike handling, much as the Tour of Flanders had done a week earlier. Vos covered the 140 kilometer race in 3:28.24, and outsprinted Trixi Worrack and Emma Johannson to take the victory.

Two days later, Vos’ World Cup leaders jersey was on the line at the Ronde van Drenthe in the Netherlands, and looked a strong bet to not only hold her lead in the standings but also take home victory. Much like the race two days earlier, the Ronde van Drenthe covered many difficult cobbled sections, playing into the hands of the cyclocross specialist. Unfortunately, Vos missed the final decisive split, which allowed 6 riders to gain 7 seconds on the first chase group, which included Vos. Vos would have to settle for 8th place, behind eventual winner Emma Johannson, who managed to take the World Cup lead away from Vos.

Sean De Bie Takes 4th at Roubaix Juniors

The elite men were not the only ones tackling the dreaded cobblestones of the Arenberg forest. The Juniors of the world also got a crack at the pave on the same day as their elder counterparts. Belgian cyclocross star Sean De Bie, who took home 4th place in this year’s junior World Championships, was safely in the group chasing the solo attack of countryman Guillaume Van Keirsbulk, who managed to stay away all the way to the velodrome. De Bie managed to sprint home for 4th place, third among his fellow chasers. Not a bad day for the Belgian juniors.

Todd Wells Suffers to 23rd at Year’s First World Cup

The mountain bike World Cup season is upon us, and it was the first chance for former cyclocross National Champion Todd Wells to trot out his new Specialized Factory Team colors on the World Cup stage. Despite starting strong and hanging with the leaders for the first two laps, the trip to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa finally caught up with Wells, as he faded from the front half way through lap three. Wells’ legs finally returned after a few hard laps, but the damage had already been done. Wells crossed the line in 23rd position, not a bad finish considering the distance he had to travel. The next mountain bike World Cup stop will be in Offenburg, Germany on April 24th and 25th.

Cyclocross Heads to Amstel Gold

French cyclocross champion Francis Mourey will be the only member of the cyclocross community that will line up at this Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race in Holland. While Mourey’s Francaise des Jeux team may be overshadowed by the might of some of the other teams that are built for the classics, watch out for Mourey to make a couple attempts at a breakaway. If a break is not in his cards, watch out for him to play a key role in keeping his team leaders in contention over the many hills (31 by the time the peloton hits the final slopes of the Valkenberg) that Amstel has to offer.

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 #4.  Installment #3 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know.