Jose Antonio Hermida shows his MTB stripes

Jose Antonio Hermida shows his MTB stripes.

by Kat Statman

Turns out with the months changing and the holiday season slowly rolling around, sometimes the brain shifts gears and I may have inadvertently done that this week, so, do not fret, your regularly scheduled programming will return next week. Until then, Jose Antonio Hermida takes on ’cross and are all the big component manufacturers upping the ante this year, again?

Hermida, World Cup cross country star, doing his home country proud in Igorre tomorrow!

We all know the usual guns and there is the increasingly strenuous race for World Cup overall points between Pauwels, Nys and Stybar going on, so clearly that should be the story of the weekend as we head to Igorre, Spain tomorrow. But, really, the question is whether or not Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos can get himself into the top ten in his home country’s cyclocross World Cup. Now, some of you may know that Jose as a pretty quick mountain bike racer from Spain, a winner of a few XC World Cups in his day, not to mention the winner of the the World Championships in 2010. But mountain bike racing is different, just like road racing is different. Think of it this way, when Sven Nys finishes in the top ten at a mountain bike world cup, that’s an awesome day for the Cannibal. When Sven Nys finishes in the top 10 at a cyclocross World Cup, Superprestige, GvA race, that’s just a normal day at the office. So it goes for Jose. But, Jose pulled out a pretty special ride at the World Championships last January for someone who, in reality, should’ve been at home riding base miles to prepare for the mountain bike season with a 20th place finish. Maybe a home race will change things for him and he’ll grab that top 10. But is all the rain this week going to be a deciding factor where the true ’crossers come out and shine with some excessive force through the deep mud?

That brings us to Jeremy Durrin. He’s one of two Americans lining up and just for hopping a plane and giving it a go he deserves some respect, if not for his sausage sales in order to get over there (that is determination, my friends!) But, with a reasonably fast ’cross season here in the US and not too many heavy slow races (New England received a few, Nittany had some deep and nasty mud for everyone to play in) for Jeremy to practice on, will he have the required strength to get through or will this be just another one of those swift kicks in the face for an American heading to Europe to try his or her hand at ’cross? (This is, of course, completely ignoring the fact that quite a few Americans have gone over and been pretty successful: Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers, Jonathan Page, Katie Compton, Meredith Miller, Amy Dombroski, Mo Bruno Roy, Sue Butler… and I could probably, with a little extra research, go on). Regardless, good luck, Jeremy, if all else fails you’ll probably have some awesome war stories.

One thing many may have noted, but isn’t really talked about, is the inherent sexism going on for the Women’s World Cup in Spain. We’ve definitely mentioned, thanks to our very own Christine Vardaros, the sexism going on over in Belgium at the big races in light of the new UCI rules. But why is there no World Cup round for women in Spain and just one for the men? Something sounds fishy to me. So where do the women race this weekend? Well, there’s a race in Poland, another race in Luxembourg and a third race in Germany all with UCI points on offer. But, really, with a World Cup those are not even consolation prizes (no disrespect to the promoters I am sure they put on wonderful events, as with the NBX Grand Prix in Rhode Island this weekend and LA Cross in California).

Moving on to more information in the wide world of pro Cyclocross, as sometimes there really is just too much.

Shimano, Sram and Campagnolo Are All Upping the Stakes

If you’ve been following the tech press recently you may have come across this article from Velonews or this article on cyclingnews or a whole host of articles about the release of Campy’s new electronic grouppo. So, Shimano, after changing the game with electronic shifting (if you’re doubting that they’ve done anything really important there, the writing seems to be on the wall: electronic is the next move) decided that, with Campy, ratcheting things up to 11 is the right move. Some of you may not quite know of the real importance of the number 11, so please just go here and learn. So what is this really all about?

Well, initially, when thinking about this, I was thinking about those unfortunate Sram riders out there on stuff that though was cutting edge (and not to say that it doesn’t work perfectly in all conditions), wasn’t quite moving with the times, and then the announcement of the new Red came. But, though exciting, and the prospect for hydraulic braking (both road and ’cross) in shift hoods is super exciting for sure, has Sram missed the boat on shifting technology? Likely, probably not, since cable shifting still works, and still works very well in all sorts of conditions. Not only that, they’ve upgraded their shifting to make things just shift better in all conditions, which honestly, after Ryan Trebon’s little mistake at the USGP this year, may be the answer and the future: user-error-free shifting!

This week’s been interesting and there really is too much to cover, so, I will catch up with something more traditional and focus on riders, but don’t forget to somehow catch some of the excitement of the World Cup this weekend: only five points separates Pauwels and Nys from the World Cup lead, and that five points is the difference between first and second!