Granouge Cross (C2/C2)
Justine Lindine came out victorious on both days of action at the beautiful DuPone estate in Granouge, DE, at a race that many consider to be the best cyclocross course on the East Coast. On Saturday, Lindine simply dominated the competition, beating Canadian Mark Batty by 40 seconds and Mitchell Hoke by over a minute. On Sunday, Lindine got away early with Troy Wells and beat him in a two-up sprint. That Lindine won was particularly impressive considering a crash in the closing laps, on a steep downhill that led right into a sharp turn. He recovered, caught Wells, and beat him in the sprint. Travis Livermon came across the line in third, 30 seconds later.
With many of North American cyclocross’s top pros overseas, Granogue was clearly the Lindine Show. With another pair of UCI victories, Lindine now finds himself with a front row starting spot at nearly every race in the US. It’s definitely a major development for him, but it doesn’t come out of nowhere – last year, he nearly won New England’s Verge Series, only to be beaten on the final day of racing by a blistering Adam Myerson (after Lindine led the series for most of the season). The real question for Lindine is: when is he going to turn pro, rather then just beating up on the pros? Speculation ran wild about where he may go, even if it’s not until the 2012/2013 season. The two teams mentioned were Rapha/Focus and Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld, both of whom may be losing riders at the end of the season, although there are plenty of smaller teams that would love to gobble up the 28 year-old. One thing we know for sure is that it’s not a question of If he’ll go pro, but When.
Spooky Cross (C2/C2)
Ryan Trebon picked up a pair of UCI C2 victories in Irvine, CA ahead of Ben Berden and Todd Wells. Wells and Berden swapped podium spots, with Berden finishing a head of Wells on Saturday. It was another pair of solid races by the Belgian and a strong return to racing from the National Champion, who struggled in some earlier races. Saturday’s victory in the final round of the Cross After Dark Series, gave Trebon his first victory in the series and the overall ahead of Berden.
The real story on Saturday was the return of multi-time gravity World Champion Brain Lopes. Lopes lives in the area and decided to show up for some cross action. Lopes grabbed the hole shot and was able to hang on to seventh place. The other news coming out of SoCal, which really isn’t a surprise to anyone, is that Wells will hang up his cleats at the end of November in order to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. He won’t defend his National Championship title, which is too bad. However, by removing a potent wild card from the National Championship, it may tilt the advantage toward people building and peaking more predictably for the race. The unfortunate part is that we’ll have to wait several more months to find out who that will be.