Niels Albert stormed to win the first Superprestige cyclocross race of the season. © Bart Hazen

Niels Albert stormed to win the first Superprestige cyclocross race of the season: will he make a recovery after his injury? © Bart Hazen

by Kat Statman

Turkey Day is fast approaching and what does that mean? We are, oh so close to Christmas week, arguably the best week in ’cross racing ever, with a race almost every day to live stream and geek out on. But, a few things to deal with first. Louisville secures a non-endemic sponsor for 2013 Worlds! Albert injured but still on his way to the rainbow stripes? Vanthourenthout does not own a house in Mallorca regardless of what you may have heard. Where have all the v-brakes gone? Wellens needs a germ-free bubble. Kaitlin Antonneau, America’s Young Wonder Child! ’Cross and World Tour Points: internationalizing the sport, good? Even Albert is complaining about the weather now. Can Vos take down Compton at the sands of Koksijde?

Fear No More, Non-Endemic Title Sponsor Secured for Louisville 2013
In big news this week, well, more like just the other day: our fears voiced at the end of September that Louisville could lose the 2013 World Championships have been abated. Just this week, it was announced and came flying through the twittersphere that Bruce Fina, Joan Hanscom and Co. have secured the major non-endemic sponsor needed. So what does that mean, financially? We will be rolling! Now, there is still an issue with television rights and whatnot, which being Americans, we all know is sort of problematic, but have faith with all the time and energy that the Louisville organizers are putting into the event, it will be sorted out in short order. Stay tuned for more info.

Albert Injured, Is there Another Set of Rainbow Stripes in His Future?
So, Niels Albert managed to get hit by a car while training this week, fracture a bone in his hand, and is now wearing a funny device to help bone growth and lamenting the fact that he is pretty much done for in all the major classifications. But I don’t know what he’s whining about! Yeah, it’s cool to win the classifications and definitely a great thing to throw on your race resume, but does he not realize that his chance of winning both the Belgian National Championships and World Championships has gotten infinitely greater now? Look at this way: the last time he was seriously injured mid-season, he stormed away as World champ. Why? Because he rested and didn’t make himself tired like everyone else. Last year, Stybar rode away from the field with only Nys able to follow, just barely. Why? Because he was injured and rested mid-season. So, what’s the lesson, folks? Get injured or just take a break mid-season and start training again and then you’ll win the rainbow stripes. Funny how that works.

Sven Vanthourenhout does NOT own property in Mallorca, just Sven Nys!
It took a little bit to figure out, but apparently somehow the press in Belgium have the idea that all pro cyclists own property and homes in Mallorca for training. It’s really not that far-fetched. Sven Nys does. Tom Boonen has been known to leave the cold and wet northern country for warmer climates. So, why shouldn’t Vanthourenhout? Well, apparently if you’re not one of the best, you just get to stay with one of your friends who is! In order to stay warm and get in the miles, as Nys pointed out, Vanthourenhout stays with him in Mallorca. Thanks, Sven, now we know: only the absolute best get property in warm cycling friendly climates.

Where have all the V-brakes gone?
Earlier this season, we talked about the movement to brakes that well, brake. But where have they all gone? They have not been on Albert’s bike for quite some time (do note that he has not returned to traditional Mafac knock offs, but is using high-power low-profile cantilevers). So, what’s going on? Well, maybe it has something to do with the anticipation for some real ’cross races in the near future, but then again, with the way this winter’s been going, it may be awhile before you really need that much clearance.

Wellens, down for the count again!
Someone needs to put Wellens in a germ-free bubble and not let him leave, even to race. Between his cytomegalovirus a few years ago and now his stomach virus, that boy just can’t stay healthy, once again leaving the hopes and dreams of Team Telenet-Fidea to younger riders like Tom Meeusen. Good thing Meeusen, excepting that little crash taking out Bart Aernouts earlier this year, is riding really well and becoming a more consistent force at the front of the field. But, regardless, don’t we want to see Wellens at the front of the field again mixing it up with Nys, or are his days truly numbered?

Kaitlin Antonneau, the Wonder Child!
After Georgia Gould sucked it up the past two weekends, it seemed as if the American hopes of ’cross awesomeness rested only one set of shoulders, Katie Compton, until little Kaitlin Antonneau broad-sided Katerina Nash at the USGP with that sprint. How do you say, awesome! The men’s racing this weekend wasn’t even that exciting! Keep looking for big things to come from this girl who has more National Championship jerseys in her closet than she even knows what to do with (maybe one’s for Monday, another for Tuesday, and so on?)

Do ’Crossers Deserve World Tour Points?
Sven Nys, on his personal website and to various media sources throughout the world, has called on the UCI to allow all non-road discipline riders to gain World Tour points. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple: if you can’t earn world tour points then you have no bargaining power with big teams, so it would be difficult to leave your discipline if you so desired. But more importantly, and I think this is true and valid, if world tour points were on offer at ’cross races, for example, there would be far more ’cross pollination (see what I did there?) from other disciplines. And, this would invariably internationalize the sport, which the UCI desperately needs and wants to do. So, ’cross racers earning World Tour points: yes, please! Then there is always the added bonus that Boom might make more than a few gracious appearances in the winter and split his time appropriately to the discipline we all know he belongs in.

Even Albert is Calling for “Real ’Crosses”
So, there really hasn’t been a real ’cross in Europe this year, which has definitely made the racing interesting and tactical. But racers are starting to complain. When Albert even complains, well, then you know something is up. Yes, Albert is good in the heavy ’crosses, but he is no Nys or Stybar when it comes to that ultimate big gear power and tends to dominate the faster, more technical races a little bit more. So, are we going to see some real ’crosses soon or is this the year of dry and fast?

Vos Starting Her Season at Koksijde, Can She Take Down Compton?
It has come to our attention that in a little bit over a week Marianne Vos and Katie Compton will have their first show down at the sands of Koksijde. If memory serves me correct, Katie rode away with that race last year with her superb sand-riding skill and technique. So can Vos come off her road and track season and give the American a run for her money? Well, at the very least, I think it will make the racing interesting. But my money’s on Compton, she drives a bike far too well to bet against her, especially when it get’s muddy or sandy.