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Jesse Anthony fought inconsistency during the 2009 cyclocross season. He enjoyed his best season on the road to date in 2010 and told VeloNews Wednesday that this fall will be decisive on where he directs his energy after December.
Anthony started his offseason Sunday after the U.S. professional road championships and ended it Wednesday night when he lined up at CrossVegas. One of a slew of new recruits for the California Giant-Specialized ’cross team, Anthony enters a season that he called an “experimental year on the ‘cross bike,” during which he’ll chase his first elite USGP of Cyclocross win and indications of similar progress to what he saw on the road this year.
“If I don’t see a lot of potential, a chance to move up to the next step, if I can’t be a consistent top five or podium finisher, maybe it’s not worth it to put that much effort into it if I can get to that point on the road,” said Anthony, a seven-time national champion in the junior and U23 ranks.
Anthony transferred to Kelly Benefit Strategies from Team Type 1 on the road in 2010. The move followed a season-long battle with mononucleosis and ushered in a resurgence for the Massachusetts-based all-rounder. “It was a big investment year for me,” he said. “A lot of people believed that I wasn’t motivated anymore, that I had it in me and I wasn’t trying.”
The investment paid off early when Anthony scored a stage win at the Tour of Luzon in the Philippines and second overall at the Tour of Korea. He broke through in August with a final overall win at the Festningsrittet stage race in Norway. “I raced a good amount of races on the road, but I’m still fired up for ’cross season,” said Anthony. “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. I want to see how that carries over into the ’cross season.”
Anthony’s results on the road have him conflicted and the 2010-11 ’cross season will likely guide the energy he puts into his career over the next two-to-five years. If he puts together the consistent season he hopes for on the dirt and grass, Anthony may begin to seriously consider a run at the 2013 world championships in Louisville. If not, he may begin to clamp down more on the road.
“I’m not doing it just for fun. I’m not racing ’cross this year to go ride around on the grass with my friends,” said Anthony. Fun remains a major factor, though, for the 25-year-old’s decision to continue his season into December. “I ride ’cross because it’s the most fun you can have on a bike, ever.”
For the first time, Anthony enters the season with the support of a full-fledged cyclocross team – the upward trending California Giant-Specialized program. “It’s been awesome to be part of a team and to have everything taken care of,” he said, 10 hours before his debut at the Desert Breeze Soccer Complex. “I have a great team this ’cross season.”
More than anything else, Anthony hoped to build a consistent season in 2010. “The last few years I’ve been hit or miss in cross and it really kills me,” he said. “I really want to win a race this year. I still have not won a U.S. Grand Prix in the elite category. That’s probably my number one goal this year.”
A win on the USGP may move Anthony closer to making a decision on how hard he will pursue a place on the U.S. national team — ahead of a flooded American talent pool — for the worlds in Louisville. “Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that if I put the heart and effort into it, I can make the team. At the same time, it’s going to really, really hard,” he said. “Right now I don’t want to bank too much on one race that I may or may not get to do, but I can’t convince myself that I couldn’t do it.”