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Cyclocross

‘Cross nats: Bring your coat

What will Mother Nature throw at Kansas City next? That’s the question organizers and racers alike are asking at the 2007 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, running Friday through Sunday in Kansas City, Kansas. On Monday, the metropolis was hit by an ice storm that grounded flights, knocked out electricity to tens of thousands and transformed city streets into treacherous swaths of ice. Wyandotte County Park, the site of the race, received a generous dusting and sports a slick layer of ice.

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Snow, ice, freezing temperatures predicted for Kansas City

By Fred Dreier

Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com) wins Thursday's Category B 10-29 race

Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com) wins Thursday’s Category B 10-29 race

Photo: Action Images

What will Mother Nature throw at Kansas City next? That’s the question organizers and racers alike are asking at the 2007 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships, running Friday through Sunday in Kansas City, Kansas.

On Monday, the metropolis was hit by an ice storm that grounded flights, knocked out electricity to tens of thousands and transformed city streets into treacherous swaths of ice. Wyandotte County Park, the site of the race, received a generous dusting and sports a slick layer of ice.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a mix of sunshine, snow and freezing nighttime temperatures during the four-day event, which began today with a series of non-championship events (see photos and links to results below). The likely outcome of the varied conditions: Mud.

“We had about an inch of snow on the course before this ice storm but the warmer rain melted it, so now it’s a layer of ice,” said race director Bill Marshall. “But it’s been raining more than anything lately, so it’s going to make for pretty muddy conditions for the entire week.”

The layout

The layout

Photo: race organizers

The adverse conditions stand in contrast to the clear weather enjoyed at the 2006 national championships, held at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island. That race attracted a record 1940 race starts, up 14 percent from 2005.

The 2007 national championships stand as another example of cyclocross’s growth in America — a reported 2045 race starts are registered among the 40 individual events. The ever-popular master’s men 35-39 age group sports the biggest field at 171, followed closely by the elite men with 167. How many riders show up for the championship weekend in the face of the predicted inclement weather, however, is yet to be seen. As of presstime, Marshall said the races would carry on as planned, snow or shine.

“We heard from a lot of people who were concerned about getting to Kansas City,” Marshall said. “As of this moment, we do not anticipate delaying any races and USA Cycling is very comfortable with our weather policy.”

Riders to watch
Elite men

Ryan Trebon (Kona-Yourkey.com)
Jonathan Page (Sunweb-Projob)
Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com-Leer-Cannondale)
Todd Wells (GT)

Elite women
Katie Compton (Spike Shooter)
Georgia Gould (Luna)
Kerry Barnholt (Tokyo Joe’s)
Rachel Lloyd (Proman-Paradigm)

U23 men
Jamey Driscoll (Fiordifrutta)
Bjorn Selander (Alan Factory)
Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar)

Is Trebon tough enough?
The elite women and men’s fields take to Wyandotte’s course on Sunday, with the men’s race finishing out the weekend of racing at 1 p.m. Most eyes will be on ‘06 champ Ryan Trebon, as the 26-year-old attempts to defend the stars and stripes.

Trebon (Kona-Yourkey.com), now a resident of Bend, Oregon, used his superior wattage output to destroy the men’s field at the 2006 championships on a dry, grassy course. And the Oregonian took the 2007 Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, winning his third title by taking three of the six races.

But Trebon has not dominated the domestic scene as in years past. Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Leer-Cyclocrossworld.com) took two races, including a muddy battle in Portland, Oregon, and his Cyclocrossworld.com teammate Jeremy Powers won the USGP opener in New Jersey. Along with two-time champ Todd Wells (GT), the two made Trebon work for his USGP title.

And at 6 foot 5, Trebon has a history of struggling in mucky conditions, although he did secure the series with a win at the final USGP on a muddy day in Portland.

Trebon’s rivals are hoping Kansas City’s bad weather will knock the often-temperamental rider off of his A-game.

“I think the best situation for [Trebon] is if we had it on a dry, power course or on a set of trainers — then he’d win for sure,” said Todd Wells (GT), the ’06 and ’01 champ. “He’s good at everything, but if the conditions are adverse and things start to go wrong, I don’t think he deals with them as well as other people.”

Johnson escaped with the title the last time nationals were held in Kansas City in 2000. Snow, ice and 40 mph winds whipped that race into a battle of attrition, and Johnson escaped to victory thanks to his impressive riding skills on snow. Trebon, who admitted he is recovering from a head cold, said that come snow or shine, he will be ready.

“Every year [nationals] is a bit muddy and I’m always second or first,” Trebon said. “Todd and Tim [Johnson] are guys to watch and if they have good days they’ll be up there. I think [Jonathan] Page is who I’ll watch the most.”

Indeed, Page, who owned the U.S. nationals during 2002-04, could be the spoiler for Trebon’s potential two-peat. Last year, Page scored the best-ever finish by an elite American man at world’s, taking the silver medal. The result earned the Europe-based American a spot on the Belgian Sunweb-Projob squad, another first by an American.

But so far Page has struggled to earn top results in Europe in 2007. So far his 17th place on December 2 in Igorre, Spain, stands as his top World Cup result from the season. The American will likely be looking to score a season-saving result in Kansas City.

“Coming back to nationals is going to be a huge motivator for [Page] and a chance at salvation from a poor European season,” said Johnson. “The rest of us [in the U.S.] have traded wins all year and no one has had a huge advantage. But none of us know what kind of form [Page] will be on.”

Mark Bavineau (Essex County Velo) wins the B30-39 race

Mark Bavineau (Essex County Velo) wins the B30-39 race

Photo: Action Images

Will Gould seize Compton’s throne?
The women’s championship race will likely boil down to a battle between two riders, USGP winner Georgia Gould (Luna) and three-time U.S. ‘cross champ Katie Compton (Spike Shooter).

While Compton has dominated the championships for three seasons — her combined time of victory for the three races is nearly three minutes — Gould looks to be riding on par with the Spike Shooter star.

“I hope it’s a good battle — those are the most fun races to watch and ride,” Gould said. “I feel like everyone has gotten faster this year.”

Indeed, Gould has proven herself as the only American to topple Compton on domestic soil. The two last met at the December 1-2 USGP races in Portland. Suffering from fatigue and sickness from her European campaign, Compton finished second and DNFed, while Gould won both races.

The first woman in 14 years to sweep the National Mountain Bike Series (formerly the NORBA series), Gould picked her game up a notch for her third season on the ‘cross bike. She regularly faced off against men’s Cat III and pro fields in local Colorado races, and grabbed victories in four of six USGP races.

But no one is counting Compton out for nationals — her résumé sparkles with success on the international level. Like Page, Compton scored the silver medal at the 2007 UCI world championships. In the wake of the success, Compton spent much of the 2007 season slugging it out with the world’s best on the World Cup circuit, winning the November 11 World Cup in Pijnacker, the Netherlands, and finishing second twice.

So who has the edge coming into nationals?

“Right now it’s a gray area. Usually I’m good at going on and off the power, but Georgia has really stepped it up all around,” Compton said. “She’s a phenomenal athlete, but she always comes racing to win. That’s what I like about her.”

Compton skipped the December 9 Colorado state championships to recover for nationals. Gould raced in the open men’s division, where she finished 16th. But like her rival, Gould isn’t ready to make any predictions.

“I feel much better this season — by the time nationals rolled around last year I was so fried. I was over it,” Gould said.

The slight edge Gould may hold over Compton is that nationals looks to be her final race of the season. Compton still has to build up for the January 27 UCI world championships in Treviso, Italy, while Gould will take a break from cycling to build up for her push toward the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

“For this year [racing world’s] was a debate, and I do feel like I could go there and be competitive,” Gould said. “But I decided I need the break, and it’s not prudent to push myself too much coming into next season. The Olympics are a bigger priority right now.”

The 2007 USA Cycling national cyclocross championships run through Sunday. Stay tuned to VeloNews.com for news and updates from the race weekend.

2007 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships
Kansas City, KS. Dec. 13-16
Friday, December 14
9 a.m. –
Junior women (19-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18)
10 a.m. – Junior men (10-12, 13-14, 15-16)
11 a.m. – Junior men (17-18)
1 p.m. – Master’s women (40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60+)
2 p.m. – Master’s women (30-34, 35-39)
3 p.m. – Master’s men (45-49)

Saturday, December 15
9 a.m.
. – U23 women
10 a.m. – U23 men
11 a.m. – Master’s men (30-34)
1 p.m. – Maser’s men (35-39)
2 p.m. – Master’s men (40-45)
3 p.m. – Master’s men (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65+)

Sunday, December 16
8 a.m.
– Single-speed
9 a.m. – Collegiate women
10 a.m. – Collegiate men
12 p.m. – Elite women
1 p.m. – Elite men

Thursday’s results (pdf format)
Category B women
Category B men (10-29)
Category B men 30-39
Category B men 40+

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