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U.S. champion Page: ‘I used to feel more alienated than I do’

Defending U.S. cyclocross champion Jonathan Page says he's been shocked by his reception in Colorado

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BOULDER, Colo. (VN) — He’s bobbed in and out of the American cyclocross conscience for years, but make no mistake: Jonathan Page is a surprise to no one, notably after last year’s ransacking of the national championship.

Page (Fuji-Spy) arrived in Colorado last Thursday, and raced over the weekend in snow and cold conditions to little fanfare, using the time as a warm-up. “It was fine,” he said. “I didn’t race at full gas or anything.”

Page is getting over an infection, and some broken ribs from a hard fall. He’s recently off antibiotics, but says he’ll be good to go come Sunday. He’s won the elite national title in cyclocross on four occasions and finished second at the UCI World Cyclocross Championships in 2007, in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. It’s safe to say he knows what it takes.

“I’m feeling better. I’m feeling stronger every day,” he said. What’s more, Page, 37, suffered broken ribs during a race several weeks ago. “I can almost lay on my side in bed … they’re okay,” he said. “I’ve broken several ribs before, so I’m used to it. No problem.”

Page is happy with the difficulty of the course at Boulder’s Valmont Bike Park, which comes as somewhat of a relief for a man who spends most of his time racing in the mud pits of northern Europe. The harder the better.

“Honestly, I was a little bit worried that the course wouldn’t be hard enough. But now, by looking at the course … it’s going to be a championship course. I felt better about it by looking at it,” he said.

The Valmont course appeared well on its way to drying as of Friday morning, though early masters racers had to contend with the perils of frozen ruts and the later categories some thick grease. Page wasn’t sure if it would be a legitimately dry and fast track by race day, but, of course, it doesn’t really matter at all, does it?

“I’m no weatherman,” he said. “You know what? Honestly, it doesn’t matter. We’re going to have to race, it’s just a question how you play the game I guess.”

As far as threats to his repeat bid are concerned, “it’s the usual suspects,” Page said. “It’s a one-day deal, and anyone can have a great day. So I don’t like to single out anyone in particular. Obviously, if there’s someone in front of me, they’re somebody to watch.”

Todd Wells (Specialized), a three-time champ in his own right, said the harder the better for Page, and noted that Page is a rider used to going full-gas all race in Europe and that, tactically, things can go a little different here in the U.S.

“You’re just in full-on chase mode,” Wells said. “Page is used to having those guys. He’s used to [riding] flat-out the whole time. Here in the U.S., he’ll be riding at the front, so when he goes flat-out, the whole time, guys sit on him. He doesn’t have someone to chase because he’s usually at the front, so it’s a different dynamic. I think for Page to have a good race, he needs the course to be hard … so it’s just everyone for themselves and everyone goes to their maximum.”

Come Sunday afternoon, Page will be front and center, and he feels recognized now than ever. “I used to feel more alienated than I do, say, this time around. I see a lot of people around, wishing me luck,” Page said. “Almost every one of them said good luck, or great to see you, or thanks for coming. … It’s nice to be recognized. Honestly, it’s quite shocking on some level.”

Another win? Well, that wouldn’t be shocking at all.