Page enjoyed the course in Leudelange. © Bart Hazen

Page enjoyed the course in Leudelange. File photo © Bart Hazen

by Kat Statman

As most of you know, all eyes are focused on Bend, Oregon, for the US ’cross National Championships this week. But that’s not all we’re keeping tabs on, as today in the weekly rumors & rumblings column we will be focused on Europe. There’s a lot to talk about and speculate on, and some thought provoking questions to throw out there. On tap for today we have the beginning of Lars Boom’s return to ’cross, Jonathan Page skips a World Cup, Sven Nys and others travel in style, Zdenek Stybar still has two more days until he’s back on the bike, and is Niels Albert back to his princely ways?

Lars Boom Goes Back to the Top – Sort of

This past weekend while all eyes were on the World Cup race in Igorre, Spain, a few ’crossers opted to stay in the colder northern climes of Europe to see if they could beat out former-pro-’crosser-now-Pro-Tour roadie Lars Boom. From the gun, Boom showed that he has not lost an ounce of his power – in fact he’s probably gained some over the past two years on the Pro Tour circuit – or his bike handling skills. The real question will be whether or not Boom can hold his own against Nys and Albert at this weekend’s GvA Trofee in Essen, or at Vlaamse Druivencross on Sunday. Here are the video highlights from the GP Julien Cajot:

Jonathan Page Skips the World Cup for a Small Local Race?

In other GP Julien Cajot news, Lars Boom was not the only big name ’crosser there. American favorite and standout Jonathan Page opted to stay close to home instead of making the long and difficult trip to Spain thanks to the Spanish air traffic controller strike that forced many to change their plans quickly just to make it to the race on time. Page was able to put together an impressive third place finish after having a rough first half of the race. He even seemed excited about his ride that day, saying, “I sucked the first half, for many reasons, some of which were my own (dumb) fault. Once I finally got going, I felt like my old pre-injury/infection self. I actually rode fast and hard – It was great! BIG thanks to Franky for making the trip down today!!!” We’re bummed that we won’t see you at the National Championships in the US this year Jonathan, but looking forward to a strong second half of the season. We hope things turn around.

Sven Nys, with Others, Gets “Pro” on His Way to Igorre

The travel arrangements for many top ’crossers were thrown into disarray when the Spanish air traffic controllers went on strike ending all flights going into and out of Spain. This left all of the favorites to work out a new way to get to the race as quickly as possible. Some took trains, some took cars, but Sven Nys showed that he is really “pro” by hiring a private charter flight, along with other ’crossers that were in Mallorca at the time, to make it to the World Cup. Seems things worked out fairly well, he made it and rode a smart race to finish third behind Niels Albert and Francis Mourey.

Zdenek Stybar is Still off the Bike, but Only Two Days Left!

For all of those Styby fans out there, don’t worry, he’ll be back at the front of  races soon. This morning he announced on Twitter that he is anxious to get back on the bike, and we now have an official time line: “I’m counting days/hrs/minutes/seconds till I can be back on my bike! Plan is 15:30 12.12.2010 to do my first meters.” Though this is exciting news, it will be a slow beginning and we won’t see Stybar back at the races for another couple of weeks. Is this injury a blessing in disguise for his late season campaign and his goal of defending the rainbow jersey in St. Wendel? It would be a great cap to what has already been a stellar season, and perhaps will give Styby a reason to keep his focus on ’cross.

Has Albert returned to his Princely Ways?

Prince Albert has returned to his princely ways; at least that’s how things seem with his consecutive World Cup wins and consistent podium appearances at GvA Trofee and Superprestige events. He has been showing that not only is his power back, but also his World Championship win in 2009 and his domination of the first half of the season last year were no flukes. Keep watching the young ’crosser who has made it clear he’s going to stay on the dirt and in the mud, at least for now, when he re-signed with BKCP-Powerplus.