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Planet Bike 2: It’s Compton and Vervecken

By Neal Rogers

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katie Compton (Planet Bike) makes it two in a row at the Planet Bike Cup.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katie Compton (Planet Bike) makes it two in a row at the Planet Bike Cup.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

Katie Compton (Planet Bike) made it two-for-two on Sunday at the Planet Bike Cup, once again riding Luna’s Katerina Nash and the rest of the women’s field right off her wheel. Belgian Erwin Vervecken (Revor-Baboco-Champion System) came out on top in the men’s race, which doubled as round 2 of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross.

Compton attacked Nash mid-race, going to the front after and drilling it to win by nearly a minute. As in Saturday’s race, Nash hung on for second with teammate Georgia Gould third.

In the men’s race, Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) was once again looking good only to fall victim to a mechanical. He and Ryan Trebon (Kona) were off the front together, with Vervecken chasing a few seconds back, when Page rolled both tires at the same time and hit the deck.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Erwin Vervecken (Revor-Baboco)  celebrates a win in his final race in the United States.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Erwin Vervecken (Revor-Baboco) celebrates a win in his final race in the United States.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

That left Vervecken and Trebon to fight for the win, and when Trebon had a mini-bobble in an off-camber section, that was all she wrote — the three-time world champion held on to win by a handful of seconds over Trebon, while Page got back up in time to cross third.

Three … two … one …

The half-hour between the elite women’s race, which began at 1:30, and the elite men’s race, which began at 3, became more ominous with each passing moment.

Under gray clouds, “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones blared over the loudspeaker as Compton, Nash and Gould were escorted to the podium presentation, which was held under a large awning in an outdoor picnic area separated from a cemetery by just a chain link fence.

The storm that had been threatening for hours finally arrived, pounding the aluminum awning and dousing the elite men warming up on the course as well as the course itself.

It was clear something significant was going to happen; what that was remained to be seen.

That something turned out to be disaster for Page, who, for the second consecutive day, lost contact with the lead due to a rolled tire. This time it was actually two rolled tires at the same time, which landed Page on the ground hard, his handlebars knocked out of alignment.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) easily glides over the barriers.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) easily glides over the barriers.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

Page had attacked from the gun, bringing only a resurgent Geoff Kabush (Maxxis- Rocky Mountain) with him. The two opened an early lead on Vervecken, while Trebon, looking stronger than he had Saturday, methodically bridged across, first to Vervecken and then to Page.

The slow burn of Trebon turning up the power proved too much for Kabush, and the trio of Vervecken, Page and Trebon surged away from the rest of the chasing field.

As he had when he reached Vervecken, Trebon went straight to the front upon catching Page, spending the majority of the second half of the race there, challenged only by Page’s occasional surges.

The combination of Page’s aggressive riding, Trebon’s unrivaled power and both Americans’ ability to rail the corners had Vervecken yo-yoing to stay within contact. However Trebon said the brevity of the passing storm worked in the Belgian’s favor.

“The storm passing and the course drying up ended up being an advantage for Erwin,” Trebon said. “Once it dried up some, he was riding it better. I was actually hoping it would rain more.”

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Ryan Trebon (Kona) hammers on one of the long straightaways.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Ryan Trebon (Kona) hammers on one of the long straightaways.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

The Americans’ inability to conspire together ultimately allowed the Belgian to regain contact and attack on the final lap.

“They were stronger than me technically, in the corners,” Vervecken said. “I made a lot of small mistakes. But on the last two or three laps they didn’t ride anymore. I am normally fast on the last lap, and they waited for me to catch them.”

Attempting to dive inside Trebon on a corner in order to rein in an attacking Vervecken, Page rolled both tires and crashed. After the race, he didn’t hide his frustration. Twice in two days, at the event his team sponsor had backed, Page had arguably been the strongest man and watched victory roll away like so many unseated tires had rolled off his tubular wheels. That he himself had glued the tires to the wheels wasn’t something that was discussed.

“I’d be lying if I said I’m not upset,” Page said. “It’s great to have good form. But I hate to have bad luck and not be winning bike races. I feel like I’m the strongest, but it doesn’t matter if you’re not there at the end.”

Trebon admitted he’d done too much work at the front after he and Vervecken made contact with Page. “I was hoping to crack ‘em,” he said. “I was hoping one of them would make a mistake.”

Trebon also acknowledged that he and Page had erred by not taking Vervecken out of the equation when they had the chance.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) finished fourth with a strong ride.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) finished fourth with a strong ride.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

“It was the classic mistake of letting someone who is that good catch back on,” Trebon said. “You should never let a three-time world champion get back on if you have the chance to keep him off. Instead, I slipped a little on an off-camber section and Erwin got a gap on me, and when we came out of the barriers he had five bike lengths.”

Kabush trailed in alone for fourth. Saturday’s winner, Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), finished sixth, behind Swiss rider Christian Heule (Rendementhypo Cycling). Vervecken’s combined total for the weekend earned him the USGP Series Leader’s jersey.

Compton, again

Compton once again put on a demonstration of power to claim her second elite women’s victory in as many days. As on Saturday, she and Nash were off the front early; only this time, Compton rode with Nash a little longer, emboldening the Czech rider. On the second lap Nash attacked and briefly took the lead before Compton chased her down, threw down a massive surge and powered away to a solo win.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katie Compton (Planet Bike) was smooth and fast throughout the course.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katie Compton (Planet Bike) was smooth and fast throughout the course.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

“We attacked each other a few times,” Compton said. “And she closed it down a few times. Finally I attacked her right after she’d pulled, and I got a gap.”

With a very similar scenario to Saturday’s race, Nash was asked to explain the subtle nuances between the two days of racing.

“I wanted to ride differently, not just sit on her wheel,” Nash said. “I got up front a few times. Today was more of Katie attacking than just upping the pace. And when she went, she was gone. She proved she’s the strongest rider this week.”

Gould again rode the majority of the race alone to finish third. Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale) outsprinted 43-year-old Canadian legend Alison Sydor — a three-time world mountain bike champion — for fourth place. Luna’s recently out-of-retirement Alison Dunlap was awarded the SRAM most aggressive rider prize.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katarina Nash (Luna) leaps the barriers as the clouds roll in.

2009 Planet Bike Cup: Katarina Nash (Luna) leaps the barriers as the clouds roll in.

Photo: ©2009 BenRossPhotography.com

“I felt like a bike racer today,” said Dunlap, who finished sixth. “It’s still really hard, and there’s still a lot of work to do.”

One week before the World Cup opener in Treviso, Italy, Compton said her current fitness feels good, not great, which is just how she wants it. “I’m happy with how I’m feeling,” she said. “I tried to come into the season good, but not too hot.”

Race notes

• Planet Bike’s Tristan Schouten was awarded the SRAM most aggressive rider prize for his ride up through the elite men’s field to finish eighth despite a poor start position.

• With their combined results over the weekend, Compton and Vervecken left Wisconsin with the series leaders’ jerseys. However, neither will be back to contest any other USGP events. Compton’s jersey falls to Luna’s Nash, who will race in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 24-25, the next stop on the USGP circuit. Vervecken’s jersey would go to Page — however, he will also miss the remainder of the USGP series, meaning that Trebon, who finished fourth Saturday and second Sunday, will wear the leader’s jersey in Louisville.

• Cal Giant-Specialized rider Chance Noble again finished as the top under-23 rider, taking a firm lead ahead David Hackworthy (Bianchi-Grand Performance) and Joseph Schmalz (KCCX-VERGE) who are tied on points.

• Correction: In Saturday’s race report, VeloNews.com incorrectly reported that Compton would not be racing in the U.S. again this season. While she will not be racing any more USGP events, she will race at the UCI events in Cincinnati on October 9-11, as well as the North American Cyclocross Trophy UCI events in Boulder, Colorado, on October 31 and November 1.

Photo Gallery

Results

Elite men

  • 1. Erwin Vervecken, Team Revor-Baboco-Champion Systems
  • 2. Ryan Trebon, Kona
  • 3. Jonathan Page, Planet Bike
  • 4. Geoff Kabush, Team Maxxis- Rocky Mountain
  • 5. Christian Heule, Rendementhypo Cycling
  • 6. Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com
  • 7. Jamey Driscoll, Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld.com
  • 8. Tristan Schouten, Planet Bike
  • 9. Barry Wicks, Kona
  • 10. Christopher Jones, Team Champion System

U23 men

  • 1. Chance Noble, California Giant /Specialized
  • 2. David Hackworthy, Bianchi
  • 3. Joseph Schmalz, KCCX-VERGE
  • 4. Jack Hinkins, Ridley Team
  • 5. Kyle Fry, MCOR
  • 6. Logan Van Bokel, Mesa Cycles Racing Team
  • 7. Luca Lenzi, The Pony Shop
  • 8. Zachary Edwards, DRT Racing

Elite women

  • 1. Katie Compton, Planet Bike
  • 2. Katerina Nash, Luna
  • 3. Georgia Gould, Luna
  • 4. Sue Butler, Monavie-Cannondale
  • 5. Alison Sydor, Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain
  • 6. Alison Dunlap, Luna
  • 7. Amy Dombrowski, Richard Sachs
  • 8. Deirdre Winfield, C3 Athletes Serving Athletes
  • 9. Kristin Wentworth, Planet Bike
  • 10. Devon Haskell, Velo Belo