As we mentioned in our several weekend previews, it was a pretty big weekend for cyclocross. European racing saw thirteen races scattered throughout the long weekend, stretching to Tuesday, so we’ll wait until the end of that shakedown (following Tuesday’s Koppenbergcross in Oudenarde) to provide a wrap-up of the action over there, but for now, let’s take a look at a weekend of North American racing that saw an action-packed field in Colorado and a set of storm-snowed mudfests on the East Coast:
Beacon Cross and HPCX (C2/C2):
A rare October Nor’Easter brought rain, sleet, snow, and cold temperatures to New Jersey for this weekend’s racing. The storm canceled amateur races in other parts of the NorthEast, and left many areas without power as leaf-laden trees couldn’t bear the weight of the snow and took down power lines. Fortunately, Beacon Cross and HPCX went on. Saturday’s Beacon Cross saw the Elite Men race under very tough conditions – snow, mud, and cold capped off by 40+ mph (65+ kph) gusts of wind. As has often been the case up and down the East Coast this year, the race was dominated by foreign riders spending their seasons in the United States. Canadian Craig Richey, who last weekend went toe to toe with East Coast Phenom Justin Lindine, dominated the competition. He put nearly a minute into Switerland’s Lukas Winterberg of the Philadelphia Cyclocross School; Travis Livermon was the top American, finishing third.
Rising tempatures turned a snow-covered, frozen HPCX course into a muddy mess by the time the Elite men took the course on Sunday. Winterberg was able to get away from a strong lead group to pick up his first UCI win of the year; Jerome Townsend (a teammate of fourth-place finisher Livermon – Smartstop/Mock Orange Bikes) was the top American, finishing a second ahead of the previous day’s winner, Craig Richey. Rounding out the extended podium was Christian Favata, of RGM/Richard Sachs.
Our picks for the weekend included two other Canadians, Mike Garrigan and Mark Batty, who finished 4th and 9th respectively at Beacon Cross. Neither finished HPCX. As expected, Livermon had a solid weekend, backing up Saturday’s 3rd with Sunday’s 4th. Riders from the Philadelphia Cyclocross School did shine, as expected. And finally, our wild card Ryan Knapp didn’t have the weekend we expected, but managed a pair of top-15 finished.
Colorado Cross Classic and Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup (C2/C1)
All eyes were on Boulder, Colorado this weekend for Saturday’s UCI C2 race, the Colorado Classic. Ryan Trebon came in as the heavy favorite in a fairly star-studded field. Though Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Tim Johnson and Christian Heule were last-minute scratches from the start list, the door was left wide open for riders including Jamey Driscoll, Todd Wells, Geoff Kabush, and Ben Berden. Even with this firepower on the starting line, Trebon dominated the whole race, soloing across the line well ahead of Wells. Driscoll overcame a slow start and was able to hold off Berden for third – one of Driscoll’s best results this season.
After his dominating performance, the focus was on Trebon the following day, to see if he could go two for two in Boulder at the UCI C1 Victory Circle Graphix Boulder Cup. Tim Johnson toed the starting line – despite a winless season thus far, he’s a potent threat, particularly after coming off of a European trip that saw him race two World Cup races. However, it would be the Belgian Ben Berden (Ops Ale-Stoemper) who stole the show after following Geoff Kabush’s last-lap attack, countering with his own move through a late mud pit, and winning solo ahead of a sprinting trio of Trebon, Johnson, and Kabush, who finished in that order. Berden, who’s racing a full North American season, raced his best race and picked up his biggest victory after spending the season thus far lurking just behind the biggest names in North American cyclocross.
Our wildcard pick for the weekend was mountain bike star Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski. JHK didn’t disappoint, finishing 6th on Saturday and 10th on Sunday. Recently unemployed Canadian Geoff Kabush, still riding high off of a pair of podiums several weeks ago at the USGP, was able to put together a pair of top tens that included 4th place at Sunday’s C1. However, his best performance may have been digital – he managed to get to the bottom of why Johnson and Heule didn’t start on Saturday.
This was the first weekend where disc brakes made their debut at some of the top races in the US. Tim Johnson made waves with some tweets and spyshots from the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com camp indicating that he would race on a prototype Cannondale with disc brakes, but wound up racing on cantilevers in the absence of enough slop to justify discs and their 1/2-pound weight gain. Other riders in both New Jersey and Colorado raced on rigs outfitted with disc brakes. Feedback and results were mixed, but it appears there’s still a bit of work to be done – the Van Dessel guys claimed that the sand and muck of Beacon Cross destroyed the brake pads in just two laps. While this is just the start, it will be interesting to see how this feedback affects this evolving aspect of the sport.