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Uncertainty surrounds Worlds cyclocross selection for men

While the U.S. women's, junior and U23 teams approach this month's Cyclocross World Championships with some of the strongest teams ever, the men's team is surrounded by uncertainty. The country's most accomplished international male racer, Jonathan Page, could be kept out of the race because of a missed doping control in November. And several of the country's top prospects have bowed out, mostly because of road or mountain bike team obligations.

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By Steve Frothingham

Trebon, here at the Zolder World Cup, is the only automatic selection for the U.S. men's team.

Trebon, here at the Zolder World Cup, is the only automatic selection for the U.S. men’s team.

Photo: Frank Bodenmüller/CBGPhoto.com

While the U.S. women’s, junior and U23 teams approach this month’s Cyclocross World Championships with some of the strongest teams ever, the men’s team is surrounded by uncertainty.

The country’s most accomplished international male racer, Jonathan Page, could be kept out of the race because of a missed doping control in November. And several of the country’s top prospects have bowed out, mostly because of road or mountain bike team obligations.

USA Cycling announced the women’s, junior and U23 teams last month. It will announce the men’s team Jan. 14th.

The U.S. can send five men to Worlds, although it is not obligated to send a full team. Automatic selections are those riders who:

  • finished in the top three at the 2008 World Championships and continue to be competitive in international races;
  • or, are among the top three U.S. riders on the UCI points ranking (and ranked in the top 50 internationally);
  • or, finished in the top five of a UCI World Cup between Oct. 1 and Dec. 26, 2008;
  • or, is the reigning national champion;
  • or, is the highest ranked racer on USA Cycling’s national cyclocross calendar rankings as of Dec. 16, 2008.

    If the team is not filled by automatic riders, or if more than five qualify, USA Cycling coaches choose. This year that duty falls primarily to Marc Gullickson, the organization’s cyclocross program director.

    The only confirmed member of the team is Ryan Trebon (Kona), who is national champion and finished the season at the top of the USA Cycling rankings, Gullickson said this week. Trebon has been in Europe since soon after he won the stars and stripes jersey in Kansas City last month.

    Powers, here at the Portland USGP finals last month, is another likely team choice.

    Powers, here at the Portland USGP finals last month, is another likely team choice.

    Photo: ©BenRossPhotography.com

    Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale) also is expected to make the team, although it’s not certain if he’s an automatic member. Powers was third on the most recent UCI rankings, but those rankings may be adjusted before the team is chosen. In any case Powers is a likely coach’s choice based on his solid performances in the U.S. and Europe this year.

    Beyond Powers and Trebon, who are currently training in Spain, the uncertainty begins. Page (Planet Bike) earned a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships. However, he is not an automatic selection this year because the latest UCI rankings, as of Jan. 5, show him as the fourth American rider, behind Trebon, Tim Johnson, and Powers. He has not finished in the top five at a World Cup this season.

    Page has been racing in Europe this month, however, garnering points while Johnson (who is not interested in racing Worlds this year) hasn’t raced since Kansas City. Updated UCI points rankings, to be released Jan. 12th, may show Page as the third American, earning him an automatic spot.

    Top Ten American Men UCI rankings as of Jan. 5 (Complete rankings here)
    20 Ryan Trebon 593 points
    22 Tim Johnson 470
    23 Jeremy Powers 439
    25 Jonathan Page 428
    29 Todd Wells 395
    32 Jamey Driscoll 374
    42 Troy Wells 240
    43 Andy Jacques-Maynes 231
    46 Jesse Anthony 209
    50 Jeremiah Bishop 185
    61 Matt White 155

    In any case, Page is a no-brainer coach’s choice, if not for a missed doping control test in November that hangs over his head. If Page is suspended, he will not race at Worlds. USADA is expected to hold a hearing on Page’s case soon; Gullickson is hoping for a decision before he has to announce the team on the 14th.

    Gullickson said if USADA gives Page the go ahead, that’s good enough for him.

    “If they suspend him, then obviously I will go with that. If they don’t, I will just assume that (the missed test) was no fault of his own and I would put him on the team.”

    Page’s other issue is some broken ribs from a crash at a Superprestige race on Dec. 28. According to his blog www.thejonathanpage.com, a doctor has told him to stop racing to let the ribs heal, but Page has decided to continue.

    Jonathan Baker (Vitamin Cottage) had been a potential team member, but did not petition for a spot and will not be considered, Gullickson said. Baker was involved in a fight with Adam Myerson at the national championships. Myerson says Baker punched him after the two exchanged words following a crash early in the race. USA Cycling has been investigating the incident, collecting statements from several witnesses and the participants.

    Gullickson happened to see some of the incident, but said he didn’t have a clear view. “I saw Baker crash and I saw Baker take a roundhouse swing at Myerson, but it didn’t look like he hit anything,” Gullickson said.

    Matt Shriver is another possible for the third or fourth spot on the team. Shriver was an excellent seventh place at Kansas City and raced well in Europe this winter, then returned to the U.S. to train. On UCI points Shriver is among the top-rated Americans who has petitioned for the team, but he is not among the top three Americans or in the top 50 overall.

    Many of the country’s top male ‘cross racers have not pursued a World’s spot. Multi-time national champion Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale) ended his ‘cross season after Kansas City to rest before preparing for the road season (in particular February’s Amgen Tour of California) with the OUCH-Maxxis team.

    Jamey Driscoll had a breakthrough second-place finish at Kansas City, and then raced well in Europe for several weeks before returning to the States to resume classes at the University of Vermont.

    Todd Wells was the fifth American on UCI points as of Jan. 5th, but did not race in Europe this year, instead preparing for the upcoming mountain bike season. His brother Troy did race in Europe after nationals, but has returned and is vacationing in Mexico. He did not petition for a World’s team spot.

    Email Steve Frothingham

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    Results

    American men UCI points
    Name, points, ranking, (ranking last week), age
    Ryan Trebon 593 points 20 (19) 28
    Tim Johnson 470 points 22 (21) 32
    Jeremy Powers 439 points 23 (23) 26
    Jonathan Page 428 points 25 (25) 33
    Todd Wells 395 points 29 (24) 34
    Jamey Driscoll 374 points 32 (28) 23
    Troy Wells 240 points 42 (41) 25
    Andy Jacques-Maynes 231 points 43 (39) 31
    Jesse Anthony 209 points 46 (43) 24
    Jeremiah Bishop 185 points 50 (49) 33
    Matt White 155 points 61 (55) 26
    Nicholas Weighall 150 points 62 (57) 22
    Matt Shriver 139 points 67 (69) 29
    Barry Wicks 138 points 70 (62) 28
    Dan Timmerman 113 points 81 (73) 29
    Justin Spinelli 99 points 89 (83) 30
    Nick Keough 96 points 92 (86) 20
    Jon Baker 85 points 99 (90) 35
    Steve Tilford 80 points 100 (91) 49
    Danny Summerhill 79 points 101 (93) 20
    Russ Stevenson 76 points 108 (98) 33
    Brian Matter 75 points 109 (112) 31
    Marko Lalonde 74 points 112 (101) 27
    Adam Hodges-Myerson 68 points 115 (104) 37
    Christopher Jones 68 points 116 (105) 30
    Adam McGrath 63 points 120 (109) 22
    Bjorn Selander 60 points 127 (116) 21
    Weston Schempf 60 points 128 (117) 32
    Erik Tonkin 56 points 130 (123) 35
    Josh Dillon 49 points 139 (131) 31
    Adam Craig 42 points 148 (140) 28
    Molly Cameron 41 points 150 (151) 33
    Tyler Wren 40 points 155 (146) 28
    Justin Lindine 40 points 156 (147) 25
    Bart Gillespie 30 points 183 (171) 35
    Alex Howes 24 points 198 (183) 21
    Matthew O’Keefe 23 points 201 (184) 36
    Andy Wulfkuhle 22 points 202 (185) 27
    Michael Gallagher 22 points 204 (187) 36
    Nathan Wyatt 20 points 215 (198) 27
    Alec Donahue 20 points 219 (202) 33
    Matt Kraus 18 points 226 (209) 37
    Travis Livermon 16 points 236 (218) 21
    Jake Wells 16 points 237 (219) 31
    Chance Noble 15 points 248 (228) 21
    Ryan DeWald 12 points 261 (242) 30
    Jon Hamblen 12 points 264 (245) 34
    Braden Kappius 12 points 265 (246) 22
    Will Dugan 10 points 275 (254) 22
    Kevin Bradford-Parish 10 points 281 (259) 27
    Mark Noble 10 points 283 (261) 46
    Eric Thompson 9 points 288 (265) 20
    Justin Robinson 9 points 291 (267) 34
    Mike Sherer 8 points 300 (277) 23
    Michael Wissink 8 points 301 (278) 40
    Joey Thompson 7 points 304 (281) 24
    Greg Wittwer 7 points 305 (282) 26
    Nate Rice 6 points 309 (286) 31
    Eneas Freyre 6 points 311 (288) 33
    Brent Prenzlow 6 points 311 (288) 41
    Sam Krieg 6 points 317 (294) 33
    Jesse Lalonde 6 points 319 (296) 34
    Mitch Hoke 5 points 323 (301) 21
    Sean Babcock 5 points 328 (305) 26
    Brian Eppen 5 points 330 (307) 31
    Sean Galegher 4 points 337 (312) 34
    Charles Pendry 4 points 338 (313) 28
    Steve Fisher 3 points 349 (324) 19
    Nathaniel Ward 3 points 351 (326) 32
    Steve Cummings 2 points 358 (332) 29
    Oscar Clark 2 points 362 (336) 20
    Ryan Iddings 2 points 363 (337) 25
    Chris Pietrzak 2 points 368 (343) 35
    Shannon Skerritt 2 points 368 (343) 38
    Colin Cares 1 points 379 (354) 22
    Gary Douville 1 points 382 (358) 34
    Ryan Knapp 1 points 389 (365) 25