Bart Wellens

Bart Wellens, pictured here, will be starting his season in the US. ©Bart Hazen

As the Giro d’Italia wraps up this weekend and the Tour of California wrapped up on Sunday you would think that the Pro Cyclocross news would be slowing down, but think again. Lars Boom has re-upped with Rabobank. The Tour of Belgium, a ’cross racer’s off-season paradise? Kevin Eeckhout of Sunweb-Revor retires at the ripe old age of 21. Amy Dombroski and Katie Compton head overseas for a little pre-season European dirt. Georgia Gould, Ms. Consistency? Todd Wells, best American on the dirt. In this week’s Working Man’s Edition we look back to Spencer Paxson, Jake Wells and head to a Master’s working man Peter Webber.

Lars Boom Stays with Rabobank
Lars Boom announced that he will be staying with Rabobank for another four years. Boom has clearly been putting together strong enough rides and putting his face into the wind enough that Rabobank thinks he is a worthy investment alongside with such greats as Oscar Freire. What does that mean for ’cross fans? Well, since Rabobank is part of the ’cross scene too, that means it won’t be a problem for Boom to moonlight a few times through the winter like last year. Another year of grand tour speed and maybe this winter he will go straight through the fencing and into the trees!

Tour of Belgium, ’Cross Racers Off-Season Paradise
The Tour of Belgium started this Wednesday, and some of our favorite racers like Niels Albert, Klaas Vantornout, Bart Wellens and Zdenek Stybar are in the peloton. Unfortunately, the king, Nys, is not toeing the line after a crash at the Dalby Forest World Cup left him in need of recovery.

Clearly, the Tour of Belgium is also on another level of racing from what Stybar got used to during his first major road race. With strong winds across the fields, Stybar found himself in the wrong group and suffering all day in the echelons. Riding the echelons is no easy feet when there are a few hundred other guys trying to stay out of the gutter and this is only compounded by the 50 kilometer per hour speed.

Eeckhout Retires at the Ripe Old Age of 21
Kevin Eeckhout of Sunweb-Revor is leaving cycling, permanently. After a knee injury, Eeckhout is giving up his promising career in cycling at the tender age of 21. The youth are the future of the sport and this is rather unfortunate news but understandable. Chapeau Eeckhout and good luck in your future endeavors.

Amy Dombroski and Katie Compton Taste Euro Dirt
Amy Dombroski and Katie Compton mix it up at the Dalby Forest World Cup race. Katie put together a respectable 41st place just shy of 10 minutes down from the winner. In Amy’s first European mountain bike world cup she came very close to grabbing that lead lap finish, being the first rider listed as down one lap. With these riders putting together respectable early season finishes, I can’t imagine they are going to be crawling in the fall. Look out for a US domination of women’s ’cross around the world.

Georgia Gould, Ms. Consistency?
In other Women’s Dalby Forest news, Georgia Gould is putting together a really great early season with another top 15 finish at Dalby Forest. Let’s just see as things get warmer and she settles into the season with a few more podiums that should be on the horizon.

Todd Wells, Unstoppable
Todd Wells keeps things in the top 20 at Dalby Forest. Bart Aernouts takes 65th, which, though not good enough for World Cup points, still led to a lead lap finish, a victory unto itself on the  six kilometer course that posted the fastest world cup average speed in history.

Working Man’s Edition Pro Cyclocross Rumors & Rumblings
This week in the working man side of our bike racing world, there are a few old friends to say “hi” to along with meeting a new one. Last week, we mentioned Spencer Paxson’s trip over to Euroland in his bid to make the Olympic long team. He’s on his way. In his first European world cup, he finished on the lead lap, a huge victory unto itself, and moved up about 30 places. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite far enough up to grab World Cup points, but the little victories are what counts here.

Another old friend is Jake Wells. Jake has been putting his stamp on the mountain bike community all spring with his podium and top ten appearances during the Whiskey 50 weekend in Prescott, Arizona as well as taking the win at the Palisade classic, a three hour cross country race east of Grand Junction, Colorado. Well, this weekend it looks like he’ll be heading out to try and finally take home the Original Growler title at Dave Wiens’ (multiple Leadville 100 winner) race in Gunnison, Colorado. Jake was on the podium last year with Kelly Magelky and Travis Brown (two stand outs at any sort of bike racing).

Hopefully if you’ve been reading Cyclocross Magazine for awhile, which you should be doing, you have heard of Pete Webber. Webber is a former professional racer and has been a well-known figure in ’cross races for a very long time both on the professional and master’s circuits. Last week at a little-known mountain bike race in Laramie, Wyoming, Pete took a podium spot in the Men’s Open race. Early season training, yes. Is Webber gunning for a blue rainbow stripe this January?  I would bet on it.