Latest News: 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships
FEB 1, 2013, LOUISVILLE, KY. By Phil Beckman/PB Creative — This may be the only bicycle race ever to encourage sandbagging. After all the excitement and anticipation leading up to the 2013 UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships, the event has has been b**ch-slapped by Mother Nature. Sure, “real” cyclocross racers and fans revel in “genuine” CX conditions like mud, snow, wind, rain and the occasional lightning strike. But there’s now a fear that the course at Evan Bandman Park may require scuba gear instead of toe spikes.
The facility is situated at the confluence of the Ohio River and Beargrass Creek, which are now rising faster than a team mechanic’s blood pressure. Last April heavy springtime rains led to a similar situation, resulting in much of the course area being submerged. With that in mind, as well as a prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of flood crest on Sunday morning, the Elite Men’s and Women’s races have been moved to Saturday. As this is being written, extraordinary measures — i.e., sandbagging, etc., — are being taken to even make Saturday’s races possible.
And this is following several days of UCI Masters Cyclo-Cross World Championship racing in which competitors have already had to deal with a hideously icy, snowy, rutty, frozen track. Good times.
You have to be careful what you ask for. Ever since it was announced that Louisville would be the site of this World Championships, the word “epic” has been tossed around with impunity. So what’s a stronger word than that? We may need it.
After all, it’s the first time in its 64-year-history that the event has been held outside of the CX motherland of Europe. When it was first announced, traditionalists’ jaws dropped while Yankees cheered. If ever there was hard evidence of just how quickly cyclocross has been growing on this side of the pond, this was it.
For once the Euros would not have home-field advantage. Yeah, let’s see how you adapt to jetlag, foreign food, boxed bikes, unfamiliar terrain and being heckled in a language you might not fully grasp. And yes, that was a dude in a Lady Gaga costume trying to hand you bacon at the top of the run-up. Deal with it.
To their credit, the visitors have not staged a labor strike. In fact, most came out in support of the sport’s expansion. Now that many are here, they seem to have embraced the change of scenery with open arms.
And arms raised on the podium. Quite a few took the opportunity to acclimate to U.S. soil at the previous weekend’s Cincinnati Kings International Cyclocross in Ohio. There, current World Champion Niels Albert (BKCP Powerplus) grabbed the Elite Men’s victory ahead of teammate Wietse Bosmans, both from Belgium. In the Elite Women’s race, Czech Katarina Nash prevailed over Luna Chix teammate Georgia Gould — an American — with Switzerland’s Jasmin Achermann (Rapha-Focus) in third.
What of the Americans this weekend? Will home court give the perennial underdogs a fighting chance? Jeremy Powers came from behind to grab third in Cincinnati, just ahead of Jonathan Page. These two are the top picks for the red-white-and-blue on the Men’s side.
Page (Fuji/SPY/ENGVT) has been a longtime Euro circuit warrior and is arguably the most successful American ever on the international CX scene. He’s the only elite American male to collect a medal at a World Championship (silver in 2007). Plus he’s fresh off capturing his fourth U.S. National Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. So there’s that.
Although Powers (Rapha-Focus) confessed to having “bad legs” at Madison, he’s been hot most of the year. A highlight was a seventh place at the Tabor, Czech Republic, round of the World Cup Series — the best ever finish for an elite American male. Many riders are comparing the Louisville course to Tabor. Hmmmm.
On the Elite Women’s side, the clear American hope is 34-year-old Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective). She recently won the overall World Cup title, the first American to do so. She now wants desperately to capture the one honor that has eluded her: the Rainbow Jersey. To do it on home turf would be sweeter than Splenda.
But she’ll have to get past Dutch phenom Marianne Vos (Stichting-Rabobank), the five-time and defending World Champion. That’s a tall order. Voss is considered one of the best female cyclists ever, and she’s only 24.
But in bike racing, anything can happen. Especially in rough-and-tumble, snapped derailleur, bite-your-ear-off cyclocross racing. And that’s not taking into account the conditions already being encountered at this year’s event. If it takes place at all (oh, let’s not go there). World-class sandbaggers welcome.
MEDALISTS FROM 2012 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS, Koksijde, Belgium:
Elite Men: 1. Niels Albert (Belgium); 2. Rob Peeters (Belgium); 3. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium).
Elite Women: 1. Marianne Voss (Netherlands); 2. Daphny Van Den Brand (Netherlands); 3. Sanne Cant (Belgium).
FINAL STANDINGS, 2012-13 WORLD CUP SERIES
Elite Men: 1. Niels Albert (Belgium); 2. Kevin Pauwels (Belgium); 3. Sven Nys (Belgium).
Elite Women: 1. Katie Compton (USA); 2. Sanne van Paassen (Netherlands); 3. Nikki Harris (Great Britain).
2013 UCI CYCLO-CROSS WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE:
All races to take place Saturday, February 2 (times are Eastern):
9:45 AM – 17-18 Junior Elite World Championships
11:00 AM – Female Elite World Championships
12:30 PM – U23 Elite World Championships
2:30 PM – Male Elite World Championships
Preliminary starters for the 2013 UCI Elite Cyclocross World Championships, as of Jan. 23, 2012.
X VANTHOURENHOUT Dieter
X DENUWELAERE Jan
X AERNOUTS Jim
VAN DER HAAR Lars
VAN AMERONGEN Thijs
VAN DEN BRAND Twan
X WUBBEN Niels
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MURGOITIO REKALDE Egoitz
HERNANDEZ GUTIERREZ Aitor
RUIZ DE LARRINAGA IBANEZ Javier
FONTANA Marco Aurelio
TISZA Zoltan (-)
SHEPITKO Maksym (-)
VAN PAASSEN Sanne
X KALVENHAAR Annefleur
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
VAN LOY Ellen
ARZUFFI Alice Maria