The UCI Cyclocross calendar got underway this weekend with the Mid-Atlantic Series’ traditional season opener, the Nittany Lion, held at the grounds of the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Pennsylvania. It’s usually the purview of fast-twitch trackies, but for one weekend in September, cyclocrossers cavort on the grounds. This year, heavy rains turned much of the course into a mud pit. When the sludge cleared, Jeremy Powers had won Saturday’s edition ahead of a trio of visiting Europeans – Great Britain’s Ian Field, Italy’s Fabio Ursi, and Belgium’s Tom Van Den Bosch.
Day Two of Nittany Lion was a non-UCI race; some riders stayed and some left to continue their racing and training elsewhere. Helen Wyman, racing for Kona, took her second victory of the weekend, while Field won the men’s race ahead of Van Den Bosch, both of whom took advantage of Powers’ absense. Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ Quad Cross shows why New England is a prime place for cyclocross – Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com’s Christian Huele, the Swiss Champion, won his first race for his new team.
Thus the first weekend was an excellent display of the strength of new teams following significant shake-ups since last season. Powers is doubtless pleased to have an early win under his belt. Confidence, it seems, is rarely his issue, but one can’t help but wonder if his failure to claim the Stars and Stripes could nag at him and make it difficult for him to feel comfortable in new surroundings at Rapha-Focus. Hitting his stride early is a good sign.
With little racing under way, there are few if any changes to Pavé’s Cyclocross power rankings; Wednesday’s CrossVegas, however, will bring together the nation’s elite fields for the first true shake-down of the season, and to add to the competition, they’ll toe the line with a host of incoming Europeans chasing down UCI points.
Stay tuned for more Cyclocross coverage throughout the week.