Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Thoughts on Cyclo-Cross World Championships

The Cyclo-Cross World Championships just ended. By now most everyone who follows cross knows the results.

But just in case not everything is translated into english for us english-speaking fans of the sportm, here are some tidbits of what transpired during the interviews.

For the last weeks, lars boom has been joking with the belgian team saying that he is not threatened by them and doesn't believe they could ever come together to work against him. He even mentioned in an interview in his house that he was only threatened by Stybar, and possibly Belgian racer Kevin Pauwels (Kevin Pauwels?????? the guy who peaked too soon according to Fidea Team Manager). In a post-race interview, Bart Wellens, Sven Nys and Belgian Team Manager Rudy De Bie confirmed that the belgians indeed worked together. This is something that has never been done on the Belgian CX team before.

When Bart Wellens attacked early in the race, the belgians stayed put on the Holland riders' (Thijs Al and Lars Boom) wheel. Once Bart was caught, Niels Albert jumped to the front with Nys on his wheel. When nys realized there was a string of Orange (holland) jerseys on his wheel, he caused a gap to let Niels free.

When Stybar took off in pursuit of Niels, Sven Nys was having a weak moment and couldnt stay on his wheel.

But when Nys took off again, as did Wellens later in the race, they didnt take anyone with them while the rest of the Belgians helped block.

Most of the belgian racers and fans agree that if Lars wouldn't have been so vocal about his antagonizing of the belgian team, they wouldn't have come together to bury him. As they say in Flemish, the belgians "hebben Boom droog in z'n gat gepakt" (english translation: The belgians took Boom dry in the butt). Crude, huh. I guess that's how much Boom pissed them off.

Regarding Niels Alberts' win, he admitted to hiding himself in roubaix and milan so the other riders didnt mark him as a guy to watch. He continued to say that is exactly what he needed to win.

Nys said his inability to stay on Stybar's wheel early in the race was due to a bad moment. He was having a tough lap coincidentally when Stybar took off to chase Niels. It makes sense to me since he jumped away shortly after that on his own to claim the last spot on the podium behind Stybar and Albert. Nys went on to say that every belgian can be proud that he helped the belgian team to claim the win. And that Niels will prove that he is a great athlete over the next few years.

Included in the string of interviews was Ellen, Niels' girlfriend of eight years. She was absolutely beaming with excitement. Considering Niels is 23, that makes them a couple from the age of 15! Shortly, Niels plans to move out of his parents' home so he and his girlfriend can live together.

I dont know what eventually happened to Jonathan Page but earlier in the race he got caught up on a pole in a u-turn - or maybe that was Jeremy Powers who had a strong race for 35th i think.

Regarding the womens race, my first choice was obviously Katie Compton (i must admit that this is partly so there will be an extra Worlds Team spot awarded to USA for next year). But if she didnt win, my second choice was easily Marianne Vos. I love her. She is so sweet, humble and down to earth. Before some races, she even camps in her mobilehome with her dad and brother. No high class hotel for her! I interviewed her recently and I especially loved her response to any special pill, food, ritual or preparation she takes before a race. She said that when the fitness is good, the rest doesnt matter. She also describes racing as "playtime" with the other girls. She races because she loves to play and rides because she loves just being on the bike.

I was expecting that USA's Rachel Lloyd to place top ten - closer to fifth, but after watching the race it was clear to me that she spent much of the race at the front, dragging almost ten riders round and round. If she pulled off the front it seemed the other riders would slow the pace down. And on a fast course like that, it is especially tough to break away from other riders. With that in mind, she rode an incredibly admirable race. Georgia Gould who placed a couple spots behind Rachel seemed to have ridden much of the race solo. With a windy course, it only proves that Georgia must have been exceptionally strong on the day.


Anonymous said...

Nice take on the worlds round up Christine!

What a race for Albert, eh? After showing such a promising start to the season, then his injury. I was surprised really to see him in such good form at the end of the season. What an awesome win for the youngster! And teamwork I guess comes not necessarily from setting him up for the win but by playing cautious when it looks like your man is away (Sounds more like road tactics) Really screwing Boom over, like you say.

I don't know much about Vos... other than her name is synonymous with WINNING! It seemed to me she came late this season to 'cross??? Is that right, maybe a choice to help find late season form rather than racing through? Nevertheless a great win and as she is so humble and sweet even nore deservedly so.

I missed the action as I was out braving the blizzard like conditions of the Hell of the Ashdown event... My fingers a still tingling from the 'frost bite'.

So what does cycling hold in store for you right now? Does the 'worlds' mark the end of your cross season? Are you riding on the road for the summer or is it too early to tell???

PEANUT said...

They always say that athletes come back stronger after most injuries.
I have an interview of Vos in the next Cyclocross Magazine so you can find out almost everything you want to know about her.
She started her season early december in Germany which is where i first arranged for the interview. She started late because she needed a little break from racing after winning her olympic gold just before that.
THis spring and summer better be really really warm because this winter sucks!
I have three races left - lille this saturday, heerlen next saturday and Oostmalle the following sunday.
After that i plan to play for a while (train long and hard) then start road racing july through cross season. I will go back to CA end of march for a tiny break from the weather here - thankfully!

Echelon said...

that is the best worlds report i have ever read. thanks. can't wait for next year.

hope things are well.

bikesgonewild said...

...rachel lloyd posted that she (A) spent too much time working at the front of her group on a fast course, (B) they'd all soft pedal rather than pull through when she eased & (C) she pulled a rookie mistake when she counted her laps wrong...
...she kicked hard one lap too soon...'woulda, shoulda, coulda' had maybe fourth or fifth but there was a full circuit to go...

...a total shame 'cuz although she'll continue to do some summertime racing, nursing school is gonna be a priority in the coming years... don't sound like much of a fan of jonathon page...maybe you know something i don't but, damn, his whole situation was a heart breaker...despite mr pages literal last minute regrouping, it just seemed like an overly hard "row to hoe"...too much dissipation...impossible to regain the intensity of focus needed for 'worlds' in particular...

...lars boom...what can ya say...hard to be a champion w/ your foot in your mouth...especially when the whole belgian contingent is intent on pushing it all the way down & your encouragement...
...(& that's not as 'crude' as how the flandrians would phrase it)...


...but hey, great article in the i.j. about my good friend dolores...tom & dolores are a wonderful, healthy & creative couple & they have my fullest admiration...serious cyclists & now equally so w/ the karts...
...'write on'...

PEANUT said...

hey echelon - Thanks! you made my day.
Hey bgw - I am a HUGE JP fan - he is my favorite of all the American male riders - easily my favorite. My heart went out to him that he had to go through that whole ordeal. i cannot tell you how many times i was so out of it at the end of the race that i forgot to check to see if i was on the doping list so i can relate. AND he had a REALLY bad day that day. At world cups they ALWAYS have escorts assigned to each of the random riders so with all that said i am glad he was found innocent. Considering what he went through he had an excellent race.
I did know all that about rachel - i also know the riders she was with as i have races near almost all of them when i had normal fitness. It is a shame for all of us that rachel may keep her racing local for the next few years. I am a fan of hers too.