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Cyclocross

U.S Gran Prix of Cyclocross kicks off Saturday in Wisconsin

The opening round of the Greenware U.S. Grand Prix of Cyclocross comes this weekend at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, near Madison.

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With Las Vegas and the Interbike trade show in the rearview mirror, top North American and visiting European cyclocross racers will have their sights set on the opening round of the Greenware U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross this weekend at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, near Madison.

Page had a great weekend in Wisconsin last year, until rolled tires put him out of the running.
Page had a great weekend in Wisconsin last year, until rolled tires put him out of the running.

Fans can watch the pro races live Saturday and Sunday on VeloNews.com, thanks to a special partnership with CyclingDirt.org. The pro women’s race begins at 1:45 central time.

The Angell Park Speedway course features off-camber technical riding and several short, sharp climbs. The weekend’s races, collectively branded the Planet Bike Cup, are expected to draw nearly the same all-star field that contested Wednesday night’s CrossVegas under lights.

Missing, however, will be CrossVegas women’s winner and two-time USGP overall winner Katerina Nash (Luna), who is not racing a full USGP series this year — she will instead juggle between the U.S. and the European World Cup events. U.S. national champion Katie Compton, winner of both races at last year’s Planet Bike Cup, may also miss the action.

Compton, who is sponsored by Planet Bike, injured her knee and elbow in a crash during the team relay competition at the UCI world mountain bike championships in Mont-Ste-Anne earlier this month. Her crash required stitches and has made swinging her leg over a cyclocross bike difficult.

“Katie is sort of up and down on taking the start,” said USGP series director Joan Hanscom. “She’ll be in Madison and will decide depending on how her injured knee is doing. Right now (Compton’s husband), Mark is saying she may try to race Saturday.”

Without Nash and possible absence of Compton, the women’s race will likely be a battle between Luna teammates Amy Dombroski and Georgia Gould, who finished second and fourth at Cross Vegas, as well as Cal Giant-Specialized rider Meredith Miller, Sue Butler (Hudz Subaru) and Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven).

On the men’s side, all the usual North American suspects are expected, including four-time USGP overall winner Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA), European-based Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), three-time Canadian national champion Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), and the powerhouse Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team of national champion Tim Johnson, CrossVegas standout Jamey Driscoll, and Jeremy Powers, who took a commanding win at the opening Planet Bike event last year.

At the 2009 Planet Bike Cup Page sat in commanding position both days, hoping to bring home the win for his title sponsor, but was ultimately unseated by rolled tubulars. He’s not calling his return his year a quest for redemption, but he’s aware that a win in the Planet Bike jersey would be a win-win for owner Bob Downs.

“Yes, I’m got some unfinished business at the Planet Bike Cup,” Page said. “It’s fun to do well at your major sponsor’s event. I should feel good and have a good performance in both of those races. I hope to, anyway.”

Europeans traveling to Wisconsin to face off against America’s best include Swiss national champion Christian Heule (Gippingen-Champion System), former German national champion Rene Birekenfeld (Harvesterhude) and Belgian Tim Van Nuffel (Van Goethem-Prorace).

However all eyes will be on five-time French national champion Francis Mourey, who is three-for-three in the U.S. over the past week, having registered wins at the Starcrossed/Rad Racing GP UCI-double before taking the come-from-behind sprint win at CrossVegas ahead of Driscoll.

“They are very good racers,” Mourey said after winning CrossVegas, of the racing he has seen in the United States over the last week. “The level of the American racers is improving every year.”

Hanscom said she is thrilled to see such depth competing at the USGP.

“We’re confident the European riders will face stiff competition from the U.S. athletes, and this speaks volumes about the growing importance of the U.S. cross scene,” Hanscom said. “It’s always exciting to see America’s best racing head to head, and this lineup just makes it more intense. Madison and the surrounding areas are so passionate about cycling, and sports in general, we know the crowds will appreciate the level of competition.”

Of concern for all racers coming from Interbike, however, is the cumulative toll that comes from Wednesday’s late-night race, hours of standing and walking around the trade show, and the subsequent air travel to Madison on either Thursday or Friday. Kabush, who finished ninth at CrossVegas, referenced this in a Twitter post Thursday afternoon, when he wrote, “After 2-day travel taper I did a top job of sucking wheels at CrossVegas. Another two standing/travel days and I should be mint for USGPs.”

Notes
In a partnership with the production team at CyclingDirt.org, VeloNews.com will provide live streaming video coverage of both days of USGP action to race fans everywhere, beginning each day with the elite/pro women’s race at 1:45 p.m. central time and continuing through the elite/pro men’s race at 3 p.m. and post-race press conferences.

The Weather: Saturday: A 20 percent chance of showers after 1pm. Increasing clouds, with a high near 63. North wind around 5 mph. Saturday Night: A 30 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 49. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. Northeast wind around 5 mph.

In addition to the pro events the Planet Bike Cup features two full days of amateur racing. For more information about the Planet Bike Cup and the USGP Series visit www.usgpcyclocross.com. Registration for all races is available on BikeReg.com.