If you spent your summer riding skinny tires, watching Tour de France feeds, and all but forgot about the cyclocross bike hanging on your wall, you’re not alone. In a sport that has so much to offer, it’s hard to specialize. Indeed, even many top American pros have a hard time keeping it knobby. So, with cyclocross season bearing down on us – have you glued up your tubulars yet? – let’s take a look at how some domestic American professional cyclocross racers spent their summer vacations.
Todd Wells, the victor of this winter’s Cyclocross National Championships, doubled down on his 2010 cross country stars and stripes by successfully defending the in July’s cross country national championship in Idaho. For him, that’s four National Championships in a little over a year, which includes last year’s short track mountain bike national championship. Not content with that tally, Wells turned around and won the Leadville 100, a high-altitude, super-climbing 100-mile MTB race in Colorado.
Wells wasn’t the only cyclocrosser to opt for fat tires and suspension during the summer months. Katie Compton, winner of seven consecutive Cyclocross National Championships, added another champion’s jersey to her growing collection with her second consecutive short track national championship – for a total of three in four years.
Georgia Gould – one of the few women in American cyclocross who can really give Compton the occasional run for her money – responded with a national championship of her own – her third, in the cross country. A good move, considering Compton’s stranglehold on cyclocross championships.
Moving over to skinny tires, Jeremy Powers has been racing as a professional roadie for Jelly Belly. Most recently, he was in the break on the Queen Stage, stage 2, of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado. Rejoice, power meter nerds – you can take a look at his data from the stage and compare your numbers to his. Of the stage – which was won by George Hincapie ahead of Tejay Van Garderen after the breakaway was absorbed and a winning move went clear on the final descent – Powers tweeted that it “was a dream come true to lead the breakawy onto the [20km dirt climb] @ cottonwood.”
Powers looks ahead to a ‘cross season on new terrain, having broken from Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com to join Rapha-Focus. Will his new team give him that last elusive bit he’ll need to win a National Championship?
Jamey Driscoll – Powers’ former Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammate – also spent a summer on the road, riding for Jamis-Sutter Home. Notable performances were two days spent in the breakaway at the Amgen Tour of California – one of which netted Driscoll the jersey for most aggressive racer. He also graduated from the University of Vermont this spring, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Considering that many attributed the limits to his cyclocross success to his commitment to his academics (spending weeks at school, traveling long distances to national-caliber events on the weekends), look for him to reel in significant results in 2011/2012.
Tim Johnson, on the other hand, limited his road racing with the intention of focusing exclusively on cyclocross preparation, with the 2013 World Championships being held on home soil (sort of, for the New Englander) of Louisville, Kentucky. But the off-season is a long time – he found time to organize a 500-mile Ride On Washington, in order to raise funds for the Bikes Belong Foundation. He also made a prominent appearance, with Liquigas-Cannondale’s Ted King, in “200 on 100 – the Fall of Ryan T Kelly,” a short movie about the crumbling of an amateur racer under the grueling pace and duration of a ride with two pros.
Jesse Anthony produced a standout result on the road by winning Minnesota’s Nature Valley Grand Prix on the strength of a late breakaway in the 100-mile road stage, the penultimate stage of the five-day race, and 2nd place in the final criterium, whic featured a 20% grade at the start/finish.
Jake Keough, yet another cyclocrosser who moonlights during the spring and summer on the domestic pro circuit (and the oldest of the five-kid Keough clan of bike racers), picked up some European experience at the Driedaagse De Panne (Three Days of de Panne) in late March. Keough took 9th on stage 3a of the three-day affair, ahead of notables including Romain Feillu, Greg Henderson, Mark Rensha, and Andre Greipel.
Any more of your favorite ‘cross racers doing impressive things in the off season? Chime in below and let us know.
I'm really pulling for JPowsthis year. He's undoubtedly one of the best American 'crossers to not yet have won a championship, and there's a personal/local connection there, too – he lives and rides in my college home and favorite place in the world, western Massachusetts. I've only met him a couple of times, but we have many mutual friends and acquaintances. So aside from simply being a fan, cheering for him makes me feel close to a place and people I really miss
I remembered a couple of weeks ago that Worlds was going to be in Louisville in 2013 and got pretty excited – I live in Nashville, TN these days, a mere three hours or so away by car. There's no chance of my missing that one.