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USA Cross Preview
WORDS & PHOTOS: Jeremy Dunn
The addition of Jeremy Powers to the Rapha-FOCUS squad makes for a nice little attack trio for the men in black and candystripes ahead of the upcoming pro cross season. And while we have done our bit to hype up the (supposed) rivalry between Powers and former teammate Tim Johnson, we’re sure there will be some great battles fought all around the country this term.
Chris Jones will have a later entry to this season as he continues to prove a such vital asset for the UnitedHealthcare pro road team. Yet fear not, he will arrive eventually. Zach McDonald, on the other hand, will make his debut with Powers at Cross Vegas, hit the road up to Seattle and then on to Wisconsin to start the USGP series. Now we all know that, no matter how many races they win or how many podiums places they secure, these are not the only three racers on the US cyclocross scene. So here are a few more US racers to keep an eye on as the season kicks off.
PRO - MEN
Ryan Trebon - In 2006 Trebon was a dual cyclocross and mountain bike national champion and it doesn't look like he’s finished yet. Ryan has a score to settle with the cyclocross scene here in the States, that much has been obvious for a while. And with new sponsors backing him he has refocused his efforts and we should see big things from the tallest man on court. Even though he has broken free of last year’s purple and orange skinsuit, he will still be easy to spot in his hi-visibility Felt kit, complete with matching bike.
Todd Wells - Over the past few seasons Wells has tended to wait as long as possible before starting his cyclocross campaign. He normally chooses the latter half of the season to tune up for the nationals then comes from behind to challenge for honors. Last year it was a strategy that took him all the way to his third national title. His first came in 2001 and his second in 2005 and he has made himself a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully this quiet, mild-mannered Colorado resident will be donning the Stars and Bars a bit more often as the season progresses. Reports are that he had a phenomenal cross-country MTB season, topped off with a win at the Leadville Trail 100.
Tim Johnson - A fan favorite throughout the entire country, ‘TJ’, as he is affectionately known, is coming off a first restful summer in a long time. After his former role as captain for the Saturn Cycling team, as well as riding for the UnitedHealthcare team, Tim backed it off from pro road racing recently. His skills in foul weather, as well as his deep knowledge of all things cross has conferred on him near-Godfather status. The brewing rivalry between Powers and Johnson will be one of the most exciting things to watch in US cyclocross this year. Johnson helped foster the talent that Powers displays, so when the two go head to head, the sparks may fly.
PRO - LADIES
On the women's scene there are also plenty of riders to watch out for. If the US nationals race in Bend, Oregon last year was any indication, the competition is only going to continue to hot up. Here are a couple of ladies to keep an eye on.
Meredith Miller - This Cal-Giant/Specialized racer has the road pedigree to back up her cross fitness. With a national road title in 2009, as well as countless European races, it looks as though the only way for Meredith to go is up. With each season she seems to become a more adept cross racer, so if last year’s third at the nationals was anything to go by, she should be right on track to give the women's field a run for its money.
Maureen Bruno-Roy - A crash at the start of last year’s national women's race left Maureen longing for more (and in need of a few stitches in her lower lip.) This year the Seven Cycles/Bob’s Redmill-sponsored rider will be back and ready to mix it up in the mud, her specialty. Look for her season debut at the Starcrossed/Rapha-FOCUS Gran Prix.
Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash - With Katie Compton away racing in Europe for most of last year, these two could take their pick of races – and they took nearly all of them. The different styles of these two Luna teammates allow them to take control of almost every situation on every course in the US.
Coryn Rivera and Katie Antonneau. These two relative newcomers are awesome athletes and great representatives for the sport.
Prediction: Definitely keep an eye on this pair as they look set to become the future faces of women's cyclocross in the US.
CROSS VEGAS: Las Vegas, September 14th.
The first three big races here in the States come in quick succession, starting with Cross Vegas the official season opener. What started as a sort of exhibition for the bike industry five years ago has evolved into a full-blown, and spectacularly fun, professional cyclocross race. As the race continues to grow it is starting to draw even elite-level riders from the European contingent. This is an immensely important race for these guys in terms of sponsor representation but also to show their mettle for the coming season. Details: www.crossvegas.com
STARCROSSED / RAPHA-FOCUS GP: Lake Sammamish Park, Issaquah, WA, September 17th-18th.
Night time racing is the way of the future. Under the lights the beer tends to flow quicker and the requisite crowds show up in throngs to help make that (and the party) a real possibility. This year will be the 10th edition of this historic race and its proximity to Nevada makes it any easy trip for the European pros to stay and race against their American counterparts. The one-two punch of the second day of racing will be the Rapha-FOCUS GP (same format, same venue). This will be the start of something good. This is a race weekend that will continue to thrive for years to come. Details: www.starcrossedcx.com
USGP #1 - PLANET BIKE CUP: Sun Prairie, WI, September 24th-25th.
The USGP is the most hotly contested cyclocross racing series in the country and this year will be no exception. This race will offer home advantage for pro-crosser Jonathan Page. He spends the majority of his season training and racing in Belgium but his Planet Bike sponsors will be looking for big things from the local man. Traditionally, he and fellow New Englander Tim Johnson have battled it out for top spot. Details: www.usgpcyclocross.com