When the curtain rises in Las Vegas on Wednesday September 19, critics and spectators alike will be wondering how this “opening night” performance for the first UCI Category 1 race of the international season will play out. Will it be a Las Vegas style “revival” of 2011 with an all Euro superstar sweep of the podium? Or will the homegrown actors prevail on this glitzy cyclocross stage – the biggest cross race outside of Europe?
The marquee favorite heading into the 6th edition of CrossVegas will be Rabobank- Giant Off-Road rider Lars Van der Haar of The Netherlands. The winner in 2011 and two-time U-23 World Champion, Var der Haar will face a rematch from Rob Peeters of Belgium, the Telenet-Fidea rider who finished just a bit short in the sprint finish of 2011 ending up 3rd on the podium. Swiss rider Christian Heule, who rounded out the all-Euro award ceremony in 2011, exited the international cross stage retiring at the end of last season.
Other notable foreign riders include Belgian Ben Berden of the Raleigh-Clement team, starting his second season based here in the U.S.; Arnaud Jouffrey of France riding for Telenet Fidea, Niels Wubben of The Netherlands riding for Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team and Swiss duo Lukas Fluckinger and Lukas Winterberg, both riding for Müller Gartengestaltung/BH Bikes.
It’s no open casting call when it comes to the domestic contingent heading into a new cross season. Two-time CrossVegas winner Ryan Trebon will come to CrossVegas for an encore performance wearing a new uniform for 2012, the cyclocrossworld.com/Cannondale team, joining longtime team members Jamie Driscoll, a CrossVegas winner in 2009 and Tim Johnson, podium placer in 2008.
Current U.S. national champion Jeremy Powers leads the Rapha-Focus team into the new season. Powers was the first American across the line in 2011 grabbing fourth place. Powers’ teammates include Chris Jones, 2nd in 2009 and Zach McDonald, no understudy himself to the international stage.
Jonathan Page comes off of a strong season-opening weekend in Rochester with a pair of 2nd place finishes, the top domestic finish.
Others to watch include Olympians Todd Wells of the USA riding for Specialized-Cal Giant and Canadian Geoff Kabush of SCOTT-3Rox Racing team. Making his first trip to CrossVegas will be New England strongman Justin Lindine.
Regardless of how the action plays out at Clif Bar CrossVegas, when the curtain falls at the end of the evening it will be a memorable opening to another international season.
Live webcast of CrossVegas will be available at www.crossvegas.com beginning at 8:00 pm Pacific Time on race day, Wednesday September 19.