The road season is getting its wheels turning in high gear, and it has already claimed its first cyclocross casualty; one that is near and dear to our hearts. Also, Rabobank-Giant has picked up some young talent, Marianne Vos picks up where she left off last road season, and America’s cyclocross stars head to Sea Otter for some mountain bike success.

Tim Johnson Suffers Broken Ankle

National cyclocross champion Tim Johnson turned up at the Dana Point Gran Prix with the hopes of helping his UnitedHealthcare presented by Maxxis team to stage wins and an overall triumph. Johnson’s weekend was cut short when he crashed half way through the race’s opening stage time trial. Johnson was entering one of the many turns in the Killer Cove Time Trial, a 2.25 mile effort that opened up a fast weekend of racing, when he hit a reflective road marking, colloquially known as a “Botts Dot.” Johnson crashed hard to his right, and was seen shortly after the close of the stage, which he did not finish, icing a sore right ankle. Further inquiries uncovered a fracture of his right ankle, which will keep him sidelined for at least a month. The crash eliminated his participation in the next weekend’s Sea Otter Classic, and has thrown into jeopardy his status for the Amgen Tour of California, which begins on May 16th.

Rabobank – Giant Offroad Team Loads Up

The Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team, which already claims such star cyclocross names as Adam Craig, Bart Aernouts and Gerben de Knegt, has added a number of young talents over the past few weeks to add to an already strong team. Lars Van der Haar had previously joined the squad which has turned its attention towards youth, and he will now be joined by newly minted espoir Michiel Van der Heijden, Mike Teunissen, Gert-Jan Bosman and Emiel Dolfsma. Not only will the Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team be one of the strongest elite outfits in the world, but will also boast one of the strongest espoir teams around. The young riders will be under the watchful eye of former Rabobank star Richard Groenendaal, who swapped the colors of AA Drink for his former team, only a few years after the two parties underwent a somewhat acrimonious split.

Marianne Vos Extends Strong Early Season Streak

Marianne Vos, the reigning Women’s cyclocross world champion, has had quite the strong early season after making the switch to the road. On the last weekend of March, Vos took control of the first round of the Women’s World Cup, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio, sprinting to the victory out of a select group of twelve riders. Vos’ win was her second straight in the Italian race, and with the win, Vos took the top spot on the Women’s World Cup standings.

Just one week later, Vos came within seconds of her second straight Women’s World Cup victory in the Women’s Ronde van Vlaanderen. Vos was second to the line out of the ten woman chase group that made it to the finish ahead of the chasing peloton. It was still an impressive ride for the young Dutchwoman, as she was forced to recover from an early crash to take her second place finish. Despite finishing as the runner up on Flanders, Vos extended her lead in the World Cup standings, as second placed Martine  Bras could only muster a 14th place finish.

Another week later, Vos was back in action at the Unive Rode van Drenthe, still sporting the Women’s World Cup overall leader’s jersey. Again a large group of riders made it away from the peloton, but this time, Vos was unable to be a part of it. Vos, instead, took up the part of a teammate, riding in the peloton to help teammate Loes Gunnewijk remain clear of the chase and take the win in the year’s third World Cup round. Vos finished her day in 15th, which put her in second place in the resulting field sprint. Vos was again able to retain the lead in the World Cup overall standings for one more round.

Today marked the fourth round of the Women’s World Cup, La Fleche Wallonne Feminine, and Vos was out to defend her World Cup lead on the fabled Muur de Huy. Vos was witness to an explosive event, in which Cervelo Test Team’s Emma Pooley was bale to sprint up the Muur to the victory. Vos was able to salvage a sixth place finish, and did enough with that finish to retain the World Cup lead for another week. She will remain in the jersey until May 9th for China’s Tour of Chongming Island.

Todd Wells Takes Short Track at Sea Otter

Former American cyclocross champion Todd Wells took his third victory in as many weeks in capturing the short track event at the annual Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. Wells grabbed the holeshot in the event and never looked back, taking a wire to wire victory over teammate Burry Stander and Canadian cyclocross and mountain bike champion Geoff Kabush. Carl Decker finished up inside the top ten with a ninth place finish, while former American Cyclocross Champion Ryan Trebon finished up the day in eleventh.

Kabush was the top cyclocross rider one day later when the mens field faced the Sea Otter Cross Country event. Kabush narrowly lost a sprint for the victory to South African Burry Stander, and would have to settle for his second podium of the weekend. Just behind was Wells, who finished two seconds off the winning pace in third. Italian cyclocross champion Marco Aurelio Fontana finished up the day in ninth place, while Carl Decker was just behind in eleventh place. Barry Wicks concluded a strong day in the saddle with a twelfth place finish.

On the women’s side of things, Georgia Gould continued a strong season thus far with a win in Saturday’s short track event. Gould held off a stiff chase from American mountain biking’s who’s who to bookend a strong race. Gould’s cyclocross teammate Katerina Nash finished up the day in sixth place, while the Giant Factory Team’s Kelli Emmett ended the day in seventh.

One day later, Gould completed a cross country/short track double by winning the cross country event at the Sea Otter Classic. Gould outpaced Norwegian Lyne Byberg by six seconds to take her second win in as many days. Katerina Nash dropped two places from her finish on Saturday by taking eighth place, while Kelli Emmett dropped to tenth on Sunday. Amy Dombroski, making her debut for the Luna team, finished in the same group as Emmett and took home eleventh on the day. Sue Butler was in the mix as well, finishing up in seventeenth place.

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 #40. Installment #39 is here. Got something worth reporting? Let us know!