We continue our US season preview with five West coast riders to watch for the 2012/13 season. With Jonathan Page moving westward, and the inclusion of a rider from Colorado (which we know isn’t near the West coast), this list contains three multi-time Elite National champions. It also includes a USGP winner, an Olympian, and perhaps the best U23 rider in the country. To say that the East vs. West battle is tilted towards the East would be a drastic understatement. In fact, the scales could be tipping the other way for some years to come. The riders on this list have finished on the elite National championship podium a combined 25 times since 2002, including 10 straight appearances by Page. Needless to say, the West coast could make an argument that they have the most consistent riders in the country.
While many may see Trebon’s switch to the Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com team as a benifit for him, it may actually be the other way around. The team struggled to get wins last year and outside of a few sporadic victories, it was Trebon and Jeremy Powers who stole the show. Many forget that Trebon was a practical lock for the USGP before a knee injury nearly cost him his season. He rebounded well with a pair of wins in Chicago and an 18th place at Worlds. Besides being the top American at Worlds, Trebon finished on the podium 16 times, half of which were victories. Having Tim Johnson and Jamie Driscoll as teammates will surely help Trebon, and if he has an injury free season, he could easily be the best American rider this season.
Massachusetts native Jonathan Page joins the list of Western riders as he and his family moved to Idaho. Last year’s season was a disappointment for Page as he failed to pick up a win and only finished on the podium five times. Page has been a long standing European based rider, and despite a rough season last year, he’s headed there in October for what may be one last go around. On top of all that, sponsorship issues have left many wondering what Page’s exact schedule will look like. Despite all these issues, Page may have one last big season in him. Will he once again reach a podium at Worlds? Probably not. Could he finish inside the top-ten in European races? Absolutely.
McDonald turned a lot of heads this past January as he took the U23 National title and followed it up with a fourth place in the elite men’s race. McDonald is an integral part of the the Rapha/Focus team and looks poised to take the U23 world by storm. McDonald doesn’t travel much, sticking to a largely West coast schedule. However, when he does travel, he likes to make an impact. He rode away with the U23 USGP title despite only participating in six of the eight races. He also pulled off a third place finish at Heuseden-Zolder (U23) and a 12th at U23 Worlds. With results like those, this season looks promising for the young Washington native. Louisville should be a huge focus for McDonald, where he could easily pull off a top-ten finish.
This year, Jones returns as a member of the Rapha/Focus trio. Like his teammate McDonald, Jones spent last year staying close to his home in California. While Jones was unable to reach the top step of the podium, he managed to notch 14 top-five finishes in 18 races. Jones has had a lengthy road season with United HealthCare, but looks poised to improve on last years results. Look for Jones to make an early statement at CrossVegas and continue to battle for the podium throughout the season in the US.
While Colorado isn’t close to the West coast, for our purposes we’re going to lump the three-time National champion in with the rest of the top West coast riders. Last year, Wells made an early exit from the cross season in order to fully prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. Clearly that decision paid off as Wells had one of his best mountain bike seasons ever, including a 10th place finish in London. Despite his short season, Wells had one victory, six podium appearances and only one non top-ten finish in 13 races. Wells is going to take a slower approach to starting his cross campaign this season, skipping early season races like CrossVegas. This tactic has paid off well for Wells in the past, including in 2010, when he won his third National championship.
While the East coast has long been considered a hotbed for cross, it is clear that the West coast is no pushover. Oregon hosts some of the largest attended cyclocross races in the country, while Washington and California both have series that are growing by leaps and bounds. Once again, the West coast is home to six UCI races, including a C1 race in Bend, OR. With plenty of top tier talent and an incredible growth on the grassroot level, the West coast is sure to give the East coast a run for their money for years to come.