Rapha Focus GP: Jonathon Page and Todd Wells chasing the two Belgian riders. © Doug Brons

Rapha Focus GP: Jonathon Page and Todd Wells chasing the two Belgian riders. © Doug Brons

by Kat Statman

The American ’cross season is in full swing with two full weekends and two Wednesday night extravaganzas completed, the European season is just getting underway and now the first USGP is here. It really is ’cross season. Sometimes I don’t believe it’s real. How can the best bike racing season, which we’ve been waiting so long for really be here already? Didn’t we just finish last season? Anyways, onward we go, there is a long winter coming up and lots of rumors to talk about. In this week’s edition: Euro ’Cross is back on TV, start looking for your live feeds, folks. Kevin Pauwels takes a big win for his new team in Erpe-Mere. Zdenek Stybar will be showing off the new Quick Step rainbow stripes in Stribro this weekend. Enrico Franzoi has found a home with the Guerciotti team, he lines up for the first time this weekend in Switzerland. Is it true that Pro ’crossers actually understand the worth of their equipment? At least Tom Meeusen does. Amy Dombroski heads back to her motherland for the season. With a venerable “who’s who” of ’cross lining up in Sun Prairie this weekend, is there really a favorite? Who should we talk about in this week’s Working Man’ Edition? We’ll go with Justin Lindine, Jake Wells, Bryan Fawley, and Chris Sheppard

Televised Coverage of ’Cross is Back!!
For all of you who were searching frantically for the live feed of last week’s Erpe-Mere race and couldn’t find it, do not worry, we will have pirate feeds this year. There was not one because Erpe-Mere was not televised. But, this weekend begins the televised cyclocross season and we kick off with GP Neerpelt. That is right folks, it’s back, cyclocross on TV, now if only we could get Sporza or Eurosport coverage with our cable packages here in the US!

Kevin Pauwels Writes a Big Check in Erpe-Mere for Mettepennigen
There was a bunch of team transfer news last year, especially relative to the mass exodus of riders from Telenet-Fidea, causing the Belgian team to restructure itself. One exodus that I’ve been curious about is Kevin Pauwels’ move to Mettepennigen’s Sunweb-Revor team. They’ve always had good riders for them, but Mettepennigen is well known for his win or get fired attitude. So, how does meek little Kevin handle all that pressure? He goes out and win’s the first Belgian UCI race, toppling a clearly in-form Nys. Hmmm … Methinks this year is going to be very interesting at the front end of the field. An in-form Nys, an in-form Pauwels, an in-form Wellens, a most likely to be in-form Albert and Stybar coming off a Pro Tour road schedule, all on different teams.

Stybar Opens the Season in Stribro This Weekend
Even though Neerpelt is this weekend, we won’t be seeing Stybar flaunting those fancy rainbow stripes across the TV quite yet. His first race of the season will be part of the Toi Toi Cup in Stribro, his home town in the Czech Republic. Not only is it a home town race but it’s organized by his father, let’s hope he can win this one! At least it will give us a relative glimpse into his form before the big races start coming up. Only a few weeks till the World Cups and Superprestige’s.

Enrico Franzoi Finds a New Home
Former Italian cyclocross national champion Enrico Franzoi has found a team after a less than stellar year at BKCP-Powerplus last year. Franzoi will be ’cross-ing with the small Guerciotti team this winter and then transfer to the larger Miche-Guerciotti team this summer and for next year. Here’s to a good season, Enrico, let’s see if you can get those Italian legs up to the front of the field this year and show everyone that last year was just a fluke!

Tom Meeusen, the Ever Conscientious Pro
When I think of pro riders, one thing that comes to mind is a disregard for the cost and expense of their equipment. It’s just expendable, right? No! We’ve caught onto a story that this past weekend at Erpe-Mere, Tom Meeusen hit a tree completely knocking his tubular off the rim. What did he do? He picked it up and carried with him all the way to the pits. When asked why, the answer was simple, “do you know what these things cost now a days!” That’s right folks, even the pro’s have respect for their equipment and how much money their teams spend to make sure they have the best.

Amy Dombroski Takes on the World … well, Europe!
In important women’s ’cross news we’ve got a huge shout out for Amy Dombroski. It’s common place to hear of the American male taking on a big adventure and spending the whole season a la Jonathan Page in Belgium to race cyclocross. But not so much for the women … why? Well, simply because the US has always had more UCI C1 races for women. But, now the rules have changed and UCI C1 races are required to have a women’s C1 race as well. What does that mean, well, Amy Dombroski will be taking full advantage of that and is flitting off to Europe for the next six months. Good luck over there, Amy, and keep us in the loop on how it’s going.

The List of Favorites at the USGP is just too long
When thinking about this weekend and the USGP series opener I had a hard time thinking of what to say. It’s amazing exciting, the big US series is here and ready to go. But who’s going to win? Some have given the tip of the hat to Ryan Trebon. Yeah, he’s looking fit and he skipped the Gateway Cross Cup this week for a little extra rest. But Jeremy Powers is on form and ready roll with two UCI wins under his belt already this year. Then Tim Johnson closed down a huge deficit at CrossVegas after an early crash to get back in the lead group. How about Bart Wellens? He came, he saw and he conquered in Seattle this weekend. And you cannot forget about the rest of the Euro contingent: Rob Peeters, Jonathan Page (Yes, he’s an American but he lives in Belgium and except a few races a year races in Europe, so he’s a Euro!), and Christian Heule. It’s just too much especially when there is always the dark horse in that group: you don’t know if they’re going to come up and put in the ride of their life.

This week’s Working Man’s Edition:
In the off-season coming up with a working man’s edition can be a bit hard. Part of being a working man is that you don’t have access to the resources to get your name out there as much, which means that it’s hard to find out what’s going on. But now that the season is going there is just so much, so here are a few quick sentences about the working men. Justin Lindine decided that riding Jeremy Powers’ wheel at Green Mountain Cross was a good idea, it turned out well for him and he put together another stellar ride! Jake Wells and Bryan Fawley dragged each other around the Gateway Cup course to slot solidly into the top ten and, man, did they have some stellar company. Then don’t forget about Canadian ’Cross Champion Chris Sheppard: did you see him going for it in Seattle this weekend? That guy is fit and ready to go 12 months out of the year, how does he do it?