CXM Correspondent and Shutterbug Joe Sales is over in Treviso, Italy for the World Championships. He’s been out on the course, and talking with the US riders, and sent us this pre-race report and phtoos below.

Trevisio Italy – In the final full day of open practice, before this weekend’s 2008 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Treviso Italy, the USA Cyclocross Team could be seen making their way around the sun-drenched course. Located just a few short miles from Venice and within view of the snow covered peaks of the Dolomites, the 2008 World’s cyclocross course is notable for its short steep climbs, challenging drops, and many off-camber sections.

Absent from the American compound and not racing this weekend is the 2006 American National Champion Ryan Trebon (Kona). Trebon’s cyclocross season has come to an abrupt end and a disappointed Trebon has flown home to Bend, Oregon due to his persistent pain after the head on crash he suffered at the USA 2007 National Championships. In the elite men’s race to be held on Sunday, Team USA will be represented by 2007 National Champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Leer/Cyclocrossworld), Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld), and 2007 Worlds silver medalist Jonathon Page (Sunweb/Projob)

In addition to Trebon not racing this weekend, 2007 World silver medalist Katie Compton is listed as questionable and is said to be suffering from “muscle problems” in her legs. Compton did not race last weekend at the Hoogerhiede World Cup and although she rode the 4km from the Team USA hotel to the race course this morning, she did not feel healthy enough to pre-ride the course. Team USA staff are saying Compton’s odds of racing on Sunday are 50/50.

For Saturday’s U-23 and Junior races, the weather is expected to remain the same with clear sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high 40’s. Early this morning riders were reporting that the course was quite sticky and slow and their bikes and tires were packing up with mud. By this afternoon the ground dried up creating some extremely fast hard-packed lines.

The 2007 USA National Junior Champion, Luke Keough looked relaxed while pre-riding and wore a video helmet during the training session as he cruised the course. The Junior team also consists of Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW), Steve Fisher (Rad Racing NW), Gavin Manion (Hot Tubes), and Zach McDonald (O’boy Oberto).

The U-23 Team consists of Nich Weighall (Rad Racing NW), Jamie Driscoll (Fiordi Frutta), Chance Noble (California Giant Strawberries) and Carson Miller (Fred Meyer).