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Cyclocross

‘Cross heads to Monopoli

This weekend, a sandy, wind-blown stretch of beach right at the top of the heel of Italy’s “boot” will play host to cycling’s oddest annual pilgrimage: The world cyclo-cross championships. As always, the two-day bash will be heralded by bass bands, beer, frites and mayonnaise and the usual assortment of funny hats. Hotels and campgrounds around Monopoli, Italy have been filling up all week and caravans of those and giant European tour buses are filling parking lots throughout the area. The attraction is a grand total of three-and-a-half hours of racing, spread out over two days. And, as has

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Captain America: Page is ready for Sunday

Captain America: Page is ready for Sunday

Photo: Charles Pelkey

This weekend, a sandy, wind-blown stretch of beach right at the top of the heel of Italy’s “boot” will play host to cycling’s oddest annual pilgrimage: The world cyclo-cross championships. As always, the two-day bash will be heralded by bass bands, beer, frites and mayonnaise and the usual assortment of funny hats.

Hotels and campgrounds around Monopoli, Italy have been filling up all week and caravans of those and giant European tour buses are filling parking lots throughout the area. The attraction is a grand total of three-and-a-half hours of racing, spread out over two days. And, as has been the case in venues stretching from Slovakia to Holland to Belgium, it should be well worth the trip.

Four for Mario?
Belgian team leader Mario de Clerq was picking his way through the hard-packed 2.7-kilometer course that twists and dips its way through low scrub brush along the beach on Friday. De Clerq looked relaxed and confident as he checked out a short stretch of barriers, but the three-time world champion declined to predict if he would manage a fourth rainbow jersey on Sunday.

Twists and turns - a lot depends on conditions

Twists and turns – a lot depends on conditions

Photo:

“No, no, too much can happen,” De Clerq said. “Flat tires, mechanicals… it isn’t good to try and say.”

It may, however, be a safe bet that either De Clerq or one of his teammates – Ben Berden, Sven Nijs, Tom Vannoppen, Erwin Vervecken or Bart Wellens – will be standing atop the podium on Sunday. Chances are pretty good that at least one of the other two spots on Sunday will also contain a Belgian. They took all three last year.

Of course, Richard Groenendaal, the only non-Belgian to win the world’s title since 1998, has his sites set high as well. Groenendaal briefly led the World Cup this season and appears to be riding as well as he ever has.

“This course is tough and it may favor someone like Groenendaal, especially if it rains,” said U.S. national champion Jonathan Page as he reconnoitered the course on Friday. “It’s hard now, but there are stretches that can get pretty spongy here.”

Page is easily the most experienced member of the U.S. squad here in Monopoli this year, having spent the bulk of his season racing in Europe, chalking up about 40 races. The season has been his best ever, too, with top-ten finishes in two UCI Category 1 events and most recently finishing 12th in Heerlen in the Netherlands last week and 14th at the World Cup in Wetzikon, Switzerland, the week before.

“This has been a great year,” Page said. “I feel a lot better about coming to world’s this year than I did last year.”

Page said Friday he was excited by the world’s course, the site of last year’s World Cup opener, which gave riders a preview. Page was the lone American at that event and is the only member of the squad who has ever raced here.

But Page is by no means alone this time. With a full squad at world’s for the first time in its history, the U.S. elite men’s team is made up five riders, including Page, Marc Gullickson, Johannes Huseby, Andy Jacques-Maynes, Jonathan Page and Jackson Stewart. And based on Page’s UCI World Cup standings this season the U.S. will start in a stronger-than-usual position – in the third row – on Sunday.

“It’s a great course for me,” said Page. “I’d like to do well here.”

“Doing well” for Page, he noted would be a top-15 finish. “A super day would be top-10,” he added, “… but talk is cheap. We’ll see what happens on Sunday.”

Page, too, thinks he’ll benefit if the weather sours and softens up the course this weekend. Fortunately for him and for Groenendaal, a cold front that has put much of Europe under snow is promising to deliver a dose of cyclo-cross-appropriate weather this weekend.

On Friday, temperatures reached the lower 50s here, but rain and even a bit of snow are predicted for Saturday and temperatures are not expected to go beyond 45 on both days.

Barriers by the sea - Grande checks the course on Friday

Barriers by the sea – Grande checks the course on Friday

Photo: Charles Pelkey

North Americans on the podium?
Weather aside, Americans’ best shot at a medal or world title this weekend is likely to come in the women’s race. Also fielding a full squad, the Americans are ranked among the favorites along with defending world champion Laurence Leboucher of France and Germany’s two-time world champion Hank Kupfernagel.

After months of back problems, Anne Grande showed she was in fine form in December as she surprised even herself by winning the U.S. national title in Napa, California. She is joined in Monopoli by other world championship veterans Carmen D’Aluisio, Gina Hall and Rachel Lloyd.

The U.S. squad is among the more experienced, with only first-timer Christine Vardaros not having competed in a world championship before. Vardaros, however, has raced in Europe and qualified as a substitute for the world’s squad last year.

Meanwhile D’Aluisio is coming off of a strong season in which she accumulated the highest number of UCI points among American women and has been focusing the entirety of her effort on the discipline. Racing with elite men in a winter criterium series near her home in Santa Cruz, California, D’Aluisio may have hit upon the perfect preparation for this particular world’s on this particular course.

“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot faster,” D’Aluisio said Thursday.

One unknown factor is Canadian Lyne Bessette whose strong road experience may be an asset on this course. Having started the discipline just a year ago, Bessette has been a presence in North American ‘cross, but has also had great success on the few occasions when she’s competed in Europe.

Events begin on Saturday with the junior and under-23 men’s races and continue on Sunday with the women’s and elite men’s races.

Start Lists:Juniors Men — Saturday 11:00 p.m.
Niels Albert – (B)
Tom Van – (Dk) Bosch – (B)
Kevin Van Lierde – (B)
Dieter Vanthourenhout – (B)
Quincy Vens – (B)
Frantisek Kloucek – (Cz)
Jaroslav Kulhavy – (Cz)
Jan Sel – (Cz)
Jan Skarnitzl – (Cz)
Zdenek Stybar – (Cz)
Delio Fernandez Cruz – (Sp)
Jokin Irazola Asua – (Sp)
Hasier Mujica Aguirre – (Sp)
Nestor Rodriguez Santaclara – (Sp)
Nicolas Belot – (F)
Jonathan Hivert – (F)
Clément Lhotellerie – (F)
Romain Villa – (F)
Ian Bibby – (GB)
Ian Field – (GB)
Adam Gascoigne – (GB)
Richard Kipling – (GB)
Finn Heitmann – (G)
Benjamin Hill – (G)
Jan Krüger – (G)
Robin Schmuda – (G)
Karl Schohknecht – (G)
Stefano Basso – (I)
Gabriele Mercante – (I)
Pietro Silvestris – (I)
Andrea Spessotto – (I)
Derik Zampedri – (I)
Jempy Drucker – (Lux)
Lars Boom – (Nl)
Sebastiaan Langeveld – (Nl)
Thijs Van Amerongen – (Nl)
Eddy Van Ijzendoorn – (Nl)
Egon Van Kessel – (Nl)
Awomir Pituch – (Pol)
Micha Werstak – (Pol)
Krzysztof Wieczorek – (Pol)
Beat Bertschinger – (Swi)
Yves Corminboeuf – (Swi)
René Lang – (Swi)
Rafael Nick – (Swi)
Till Schaltegger – (Swi)
Peter Ciz – (Svk)
Lubomir Hricak – (Svk)
Michal Prachar – (Svk)
Lukas Sibr – (Svk)
Jesse Anthony – (USA)
Steven Cozza – (USA)
David Fleischhauer – (USA)
Zak Grabowski – (USA)
Konrad Lebas – (USA)Substitutes:
Toon Devenyns – (B)
Kay Van – (Dk) Brande – (B)
Petr Novotny – (Cz)
Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga – (Sp)
Gorka Ruiz De Gordoa Ruiz – (Sp)
Ian Legg – (GB)
Thomas Gröbl – (G)
Lucas Keller – (G)
Konrad Michael Opitz – (G)
Daniele Balducci – (I)
Marco Griggi – (I)
Fabio Ursi – (I)
Rikke Dijkxhoorn – (Nl)
Daniel Janiszewski – (Pol)
Jakub Komar – (Pol)
Ukasz Szybisty – (Pol)
Dominik Parpan – (Swi)
Marcel Wyss – (Swi)


Under 23 Men — 2:00 p.m.
Daniel Hufnagel – (A)
Harald Starzengruber – (A)
Bart Aernouts – (B)
Kevin Pauwels – (B)
Wesley Van Der Linden – (B)
Tim Van Nuffel – (B)
Klaas Vantornout – (B)
Martin Bina – (Cz)
David Kasek – (Cz)
Vladimir Kyzivat – (Cz)
Radomir Simunek – (Cz)
Martin Zlamalik – (Cz)
Anders Klinkby – (Dk)
Tommy Nielsen – (Dk)
Kim Petersen – (Dk)
Ismael Estebam Aguero – (Sp)
Sem Mugica Carravilla – (Sp)
Egoitz Murgoitio – (Sp)
Haitz Ortiz Tolaretxipi – (Sp)
Julien Belgy – (F)
Jean-Baptiste Beraud – (F)
Fabien Bourly – (F)
Steve Chainel – (F)
Sébastien Minard – (F)
Steven Roach – (GB)
Shaun Snodden – (GB)
Hannes Genze – (G)
Felix Gniot – (G)
Leo Karstens – (G)
Thorsten Struch – (G)
Jochen Uhrig – (G)
Marco Bianco – (I)
Enrico Franzoi – (I)
Flavio Alex Longhi – (I)
Enrico Rossi – (I)
Michele Sbetta – (I)
Yasuki Uchiyama – (Jpn)
Marc Ernster – (Lux)
Bart Dirkx – (Nl)
Theo Eltink – (Nl)
Joost Posthuma – (Nl)
Kenny Robert Van Hummel – (Nl)
Thijs Verhagen – (Nl)
Pieter Weening – (Nl)
Mariusz Gil – (Pol)
Krzysztof Kuniak – (Pol)
Lukas Flückiger – (Swi)
Pirmin Lang – (Swi)
Michael Müller – (Swi)
Johann Tschopp – (Swi)
Simon Zahner – (Swi)
Stefan Gajdosik – (Svk)
Lubomir Glovniak – (Svk)
Marian Hecl – (Svk)
Joshua Anthony – (USA)
Adam Craig – (USA)
Alan Obye – (USA)
Ryan Trebon – (USA)
Barry Wicks – (USA)Substitutes:
Tim Pauwels – (B)
Jan Soetens – (B)
Josef Soukup – (Cz)
Pierre Bernard Vaillant – (F)
Daniel Olszewski – (G)
Jens Petroll – (G)
Francesco Cingolani – (I)
Luca Damiani – (I)
Marco Aurelio Fontana – (I)
Koen De Kort – (Nl)
Daniel Wasiewicz – (Pol)
Reto Hess – (Swi)
Stefan Trafelet – (Swi)


Women – Sunday
Isabella Wieser – (A)
Veerle Ingels – (B)
Anja Nobus – (B)
Hilde Quintens – (B)
Loes Sels – (B)
Katleen Vermeiren – (B)
Shauna Gillies-Smith  – (Can)
Bessette Lyne – (Can)
Mette Andersen – (Dk)
Nadine Bruun – (Dk)
Rocio Gamonal Ferrera – (Sp)
Nekane Lasa Aguirre – (Sp)
Aida Nuño Palacio – (Sp)
Laurence Leboucher – (F)
Marilyne Salvetat – (F)
Nadia Triquet – (F)
Isla Rowntree – (GB)
Victoria Wilkinson – (GB)
Birgit Hollmann – (G)
Nicole Kampeter – (G)
Hanka Kupfernagel – (G)
Paola Bortolin – (I)
Francesca Cucciniello – (I)
Vania Rossi – (I)
Annabella Stropparo – (I)
Maria Paola Turcutto – (I)
Miyoko Karami – (Jpn)
Masami Mashimo – (Jpn)
Nicole De Bie-Leijten – (Nl)
Corine Dorland – (Nl)
Reza Hormes-Ravenstijn – (Nl)
Debby Mansveld – (Nl)
Daphny Van – (Dk) Brand – (Nl)
Isabel Caetano Por
Alla Epifanova Rus
Alexandra Bähler – (Swi)
Carmen D’aluisio – (USA)
Ann Grande – (USA)
Gina Hall – (USA)
Rachel Lloyd – (USA)
Christine Vardaros – (USA)Substitutes:
Veronique Belleter – (B)
Corinne Sempe – (F)
Nicoletta Bresciani – (I)
Milena Cavani – (I)
Simonetta Marone – (I)
Bernadine Boog-Rauwerda – (Nl)


Men’s Elite – Sunday
Peter Presslauer – (A)
Ben Berden – (B)
Mario De Clercq – (B)
Sven Nijs – (B)
Tom Vannoppen – (B)
Erwin Vervecken – (B)
Bart Wellens – (B)
Petr Dlask – (Cz)
Vaclav Jezek – (Cz)
Ales Mudroch – (Cz)
Jiri Pospisil – (Cz)
Tomas Trunschka – (Cz)
Zugaitz Ayuso Apaolaza – (Sp)
Juan Carlos Garro – (Sp)
Gaizka Lejarreta Martin – (Sp)
David Seco Amundarain – (Sp)
Isaac Suarez Fernandez – (Sp)
Dominique Arnould – (F)
David Derepas – (F)
John Gadret – (F)
Arnaud Labbe – (F)
Francis Mourey – (F)
David Collins – (GB)
Matthew Ellis – (GB)
Roger Hammond – (GB)
Stuart Wearmouth – (GB)
Jens Reuker – (G)
Luca Bramati – (I)
Alessandro Fontana – (I)
Marco Paludetti – (I)
Daniele Pontoni – (I)
Stefano Toffoletti – (I)
Shinya Ikemoto – (Jpn)
Yukinaga Kodaira – (Jpn)
Keiichi Tsujiura – (Jpn)
Gusty Bausch – (Lux)
Gerben De Knegt – (Nl)
Wim De Vos – (Nl)
Richard Groenendaal – (Nl)
Maarten Nijland – (Nl)
Camiel Van – (Dk) Bergh – (Nl)
Dariusz Gil – (Pol)
Tadeusz Korzeniewski – (Pol)
Michael Baumgartner – (Swi)
Christian Heule – (Swi)
Jan Ramsauer – (Swi)
David Rusch – (Swi)
Beat Wabel – (Swi)
Robert Glajza – (Svk)
Vaclav Metlicka – (Svk)
Marc Gullickson – (USA)
Johannes Huseby – (USA)
Andy Jacques-Maynes – (USA)
Jonathan Page – (USA)
Jackson Stewart – (USA)Substitutes:
Arne Daelmans – (B)
Sven Vanthourenhout – (B)
Radek Tichy – (Cz)
Maik Mueller – (G)
Jens Schwedler – (G)
Christian Wasmer – (G)
Pietro Pavoni – (I)
Massimo Sargenti – (I)
Stefano Zanetti – (I)
Wilant Van Gils – (Nl)
Marek Cichosz – (Pol)
Pawel Cierpikowski – (Pol)
 

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