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Old Man Winter blows through Colorado, setting up a snowy weekend of ’cross racing

By Robbie Stout

Eighteen inches or more of fresh snow has forced organizers to move this Sunday’s Boulder Cup race from a grassy city park in South Boulder to the sandy Boulder Reservoir.

The new venue will be familiar to many — it’s the same as used last year for the Saturday race of the North American Cyclocross Trophy series weekend in Boulder. This year, the Saturday race is being held at the Xilinx venue in nearby Longmont.

The Boulder promoters have had an agreement with the city for the last three years to use the reservoir course as a backup in case of conditions that could harm the turf at South Boulder’s Harlow Platts park, said Brook Watts, the race’s promotion director.

“It’s in our contract with the city of Boulder that a few days preceding the event they would look at the weather forecast and make a determination on the conditions, whether they would be detrimental to the turf at Harlow Platts. Unlike the previous three years we’ve been slammed,” Watts said.

And slammed the Colorado Front Range has been — a VeloNews.com editor, who lives across the street from Harlow Platts, measured 18 inches of snow on his deck Thursday morning, and it was still coming down.

However, the forecast calls for a high of 40-degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, and highs in the low 50s on Saturday and Sunday. With the rising thermometer, the melting snow will provide plenty of moisture for truly sloppy ’cross conditions under clear skies.

Saturday: the Blue Sky Velo Cup

On Saturday, the UCI C2 Blue Sky Velo Cup will be held at the Xilinx course in Longmont. “Xilinx has been a venue for local races for at least 5 years,” says the promoter, Bill Teasdale. “The USGP race was there three years ago and it’s been used for national racing, state championships and local races.”

“Last year Xilinx was a fast dry course; this year it’s going to be a power course,” says Teasdale. “Some sections will be very slick — there is very little irrigated grass. The majority of it is Colorado prairie grass. I think we will do some clearing of the snow. My primary concern is rider safety. In some areas where the snow is just really deep we’ll probably clear it out. I want to keep it as pure as possible but I also want it to be a race. Hopefully Mother Nature will help us out today and tomorrow.”

Sunday: The Boulder Cup

On Sunday, the UCI C1 Boulder Cup will be held at the Boulder Reservoir, which is where Todd Wells rode to victory on the first day of the 2008 weekend. Wells will not be present to defend his title this weekend but his younger brother, Troy will make an appearance.

“We’ll use elements of the course that they used last year at the Redline Cup, which has usually been the Saturday event,” says Watts. “The most important thing to note is that it does not resemble what is used at the local races. We don’t have extensive sand sections and it doesn’t go along the beach. We changed the finish line from where it has been located last year, which allows for a slightly longer finishing straight for a different dynamic.”

Last weekend’s USGP in Kentucky saw wins from Katerina Nash (Luna), Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) and Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com). Last year’s Harlow Platts winner, Johnson will be in attendance, along with a podium-hungry Trebon. Nash will not be present to continue her 2009 winning streak as she is overseas.

With the undoubtedly slick conditions, this weekend’s races will favor a rider who excels when the conditions are poor. In the past it’s been easy to give Johnson the hands-down odds on muddy days, but Trebon, Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) and Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) have all proven to be just as skillful in the last 12 months.

Perhaps the most exciting rider in attendance will be Katie Compton (Planet Bike), who will drive up from her house in Colorado Springs. It’s a pretty sure bet that she will dominate the women’s field on her way to honing her fitness for the November 8th, World Cup, in Nommay, France. This weekend will prove a fine testing ground to dial-in her equipment for sloppy riding, which is an unusual opportunity in Colorado.

Notably missing from the weekend’s events will be the current NACT series leaders, Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) and Natasha Elliott (Louis Garneau).

Expected elite men:
Jesse Anthony (Jamis Bikes), Jonathan Baker (Hudz-Subaru), Adam Craig (Giant), Carl Decker (Giant), Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell), Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), Christopher Jones (Champion Systems), Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), Matt Pacocha (Hudz-Subaru), Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com), Danny Summerhill (5280), Erik Tonkin (Kona-FSA), Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) and Troy Wells (Specialized).

Expected elite women:
Katie Compton (Planet Bike), Amy Dombroski (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches), Alison Dunlap (Luna), Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles), Georgia Gould (Luna), Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten), and Alison Powers (Fuji).

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