Marianne Vos races through Zolder. Will she keep those stripes? © Bart Hazen

Marianne Vos, here racing in Zolder. (file photo) © Bart Hazen

by Kat Statman

Weeknight racing, long weekend road and mountain bike rides, maybe even a mountain bike race or a road race: these are all the little things we try and do to get our “cyclocross fix,” but it’s not the same. There is no substitute for the gasping breaths, the burning legs, the cross-eyed attempts at clearing the sand pit or the barriers. But we try to capture the feeling with our substitute races and by seeing what is happening in the world of pro cyclocross racers. This week we take a look at the two top women, Marianne Vos and Katie Compton, as they take two different off-season paths, one on the road the other on the mountain bike. Zdenek Stybar is moving up in the world and heading to his first big Pro Tour road race. Jeremy Powers is on the mend and should be raring to go for later season racing and ’cross season. Is Lars Boom a prologue specialist? There are some rumblings going on, all very hush-hush now, that has found a replacement for Powers spot, but will it be the same? In this week’s Working Man’s Rumors and Rumblings, we take a stab at three different regions with Justin Lindine in the North East, Tristan Schouten and Brian Matter in the Upper Midwest and Jake Wells up high in the Rocky Mountains.

Marianne Vos makes it three in a row in Spain
Taking the big win in the GP Valladolid World Cup, the Durango-Durango and the first stage of the Luretta Emakumeen Bira, Marianne has been on a road racing streak all spring and now has carried that form into the early summer. Not only has Vos been winning races, but she has this uncanny habit of winning them in style. At the first stage of the Luretta Emakumeen Bira she took the win in a hard-fought sprint against Ina Teutenberg, the fast woman from HTC-Highroad, and Lizzy Armistead from Garmin-Cervelo. It must feel good to knock some of the biggest teams off the top step, but then again, Nederland-Bloet is no slouch team.

Compton Using her Head and Legs to Win a Sprint Eliminator
Katie Compton takes first in the sprint eliminator and second overall in the Mara Wloszczowska Cross Country and Spring Eliminator events in Poland. Katie may have gotten off to a bit of a slow start, but clearly she is on her way to top form, beating out the current cross-country world champion in the sprint eliminator and taking second to her in the cross country. If you’re looking for an exciting form of off-season bike racing, check out the sprint eliminators: perfect V02 max training if you ask me. Just watch Katie’s perfectly timed strategic attack in the video here:

[youtube 7N-n1-jBidU 580 380]

Zdenek Stybar to the Tour de Suisse
Can he handle the long mountain climbs? The Tour de Suisse is one of the traditional lead-up races to the Tour for the top riders, whether or not they’re sprinters, GC contenders or break-away specialists. But if you look at Quick-Step’s roster for the nine day stage race, it is clear that Stybar is there in a support role and you can bet that he will be on bottle-fetching duty all week for the likes of Tom Boonen and Sylvan Chavanel as they finish their prep for le Grande Boucle. As Jeremy Powers has said before, sitting on the front setting tempo is one heck of a way to get fit for ’cross season, so nine days of hard work very well might have Stybar ready for another stellar season, assuming he isn’t injured again.

Jeremy Powers on the Mend
After a nasty crash in the US Pro Championships over a week ago, it is clear that Powers is on the mend and back to training. This bike racing thing is risky and especially so when the pace is 40 kilometers an hour and up. Jeremy, glad to hear that you’re healing up and don’t need any crazy surgery to fix broken bones!

Lars Boom a prologue specialist?
Lars has been one of Rabobank’s best investments since he left the continental squad for the Pro Tour squad with multiple wins to his name. One area that Boom has been particularly good are the opening prologues for stage races. The hard, short and fast efforts suit the big anaerobic engine Lars holds and has a habit of putting him in the leader’s jersey, like at the Dauphine this week. Boom is a stand-out rider with a huge engine and clearly worth more than his weight in gold. As Nys said, he is a true champion. Keep putting the hurt on and we’ll see you on the dirt in only a few months now.

Rumors milling around that will have a replacement for Jeremy Powers
But who? It has come to my attention that will be replacing the vacant spot left by Powers this past spring, but the real question is who? With ’cross season getting closer and closer one would think it would be timely to announce the rider soon. Will they look towards another young gun aiming to move up through the ranks and in need of the indispensible tutelage that both Tim Johnson and Stu Thorne will certainly be able to provide? Maybe long-time friend Jesse Anthony? Then again, Jesse has been hyper-successful on the road the past two years and seems to be leaning towards that discipline. It is pretty clear that any replacement for Powers will have big shoes to fill, that is, unless all of a sudden they’ve hired Ryan Trebon or Jonathan Page, which would put Stu Thorne’s team back in the position of being the most dominant American ’cross team for 2011. Any thoughts, my fellow ’cross fans?

Working Man’s Rumors & Rumblings
Jake Wells takes fourth in Teva Mountain Games Vail Pass Time Trial. Jake has been a busy worker bee this past spring and it’s definitely been paying off with his top finishes across the board and now taking fourth in an uphill time trial against some of those skinny road racer types. Good on you, Jake.

Justin Lindine finishes fourth overall at the Transylvania Epic Mountain Bike Race. Another busy worker bee hailing from the East Coast, something that Justin clearly used to his advantage on the rocky, rooty and slippery trails in State College, Pennsylvania. It’s always heart warming to see the underdog duke it out with the big dogs.

Brian Matter and Tristan Schouten continue to battle it out in the WORS series, trading wins during the first two races of the series. As summer continues, former WORS series winners Matter and Schouten are in a tight-locked battle after the first two races. Schouten and Matter have traded wins so far and now are only separated by six points. Especially impressive is that Schouten still isn’t using his own bike and is racing on a borrowed bike.