The folks who run Cross of the North have outdone themselves this year. They’ve moved to the site of the former USGP series race in Fort Collins, CO. It was easy to imagine the USGP had come back to life: riders scaled a World Cup quality flyover, the team tent village hummed along with the light generators, and plenty of spectators took advantage of bonuses like an elevated viewing lounge.
In the women’s open race Nicole Duke (SRAM Factory) and Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru) quickly left the field behind. Park City, Utah resident Clouse frequently travels with her brother Evan Clouse to Colorado competitions, and the 14 year-old has become accustomed to the fast company of veterans like Duke, Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team), and Meredith Miller (Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team).
Duke and Clouse paced each other, swapping places and finding lines through the numerous corners and turns on the compact night-course design.
“Usually I’ll sit behind someone and I’ll get pretty frustrated,” Duke later said about the battle with Clouse. “She challenged me on all the corners. There was maybe one where I thought she should go to the outside and I passed her on that corner a couple of times. But all the rest of it, she was flawless.”
In the final lap Clouse stretched Duke’s limits by putting in multiple maximum efforts. She pulled away and won alone under the spotlights.
In the final meters Duke watched the junior fly and decided she not only deserved the win but would get it in any case based on her power. “I just let her go and sat up and didn’t even want to contest her,” Duke said. “She had so much power at the end that I knew even if I got out onto the finishing straight she would still probably beat me. So I was like, ‘I’m done. I tried.’
“I thought she’d do maybe four efforts [in the last lap] and get tired and then kind of go steady, but she didn’t. She just kept doing it. She’s incredibly strong. She’s really good technically and she’s got the power. And she pushes a bigger gear than me, so it’s impressive.”
After the race Clouse shared her thoughts about contesting the win with Duke. “She’s so fast. We’ve know each other for a couple of years and I love racing with her because we are supportive of each other when we race. So we can work together and it’s just fun racing with her and racing with a stronger girl than me.
“She pushes me, so it’s awesome.”
Evol Racing’s Melissa Barker pushed the rest of the field and finished third.
Men’s open won by Riveros
Similarly the men’s open race saw a solo winner, Fernando Riveros (Raleigh Clement). Riveros, a mountain biker who likes to dabble in cyclocross, started near the back of the large field. By the second lap he reached the front of the race which was then driven by Spencer Powlison (Evol Racing), Brady Kappius (CLIF Bar), Gage Hecht and Brannan Fix of Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru, Ben Berden and Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport).
Riveros passed them and never looked back for nearly 40 minutes. Tim Allen’s (Feedback Sports) efforts earned him separation from the leaders and second place nine seconds after Riveros’ arrival.
“I caught the leaders and just decided to go for it,” Riveros said, “and didn’t care if I blew up.” It was the Colombian’s second ‘cross win this season.
For complete results see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.
Morning drizzle created the slickest conditions of the week in Richmond for the junior men’s road world championship race. Crashes over the 130 kilometers tore holes in kits and bloodied knees in the field of 166 starters.
Colombia’s Julian Cardona and American Jack Maddux peeled off the front early on. Like other attacks in the first half of the race, it didn’t stick.
In the second half of the eight lap competition Adrien Costa (USA), a favorite for a podium result, got away with a large group. Once again, what was left of the field – about one third of the starters didn’t finish – pulled them back.
“I was trying to attack early to break things up,” Costa told VeloNews. “I wasn’t feeling super good all race: I think with the time trial I still wasn’t able to recover super well. I don’t know, I guess we had lots of bad luck with my teammates, I’m not sure what happened. I know Ethan [Reynolds] went down and there were mechanicals and stuff.”
Despite feeling less than stellar Costa attacked again with about two laps remaining and drew others into the break attempt. In the final circuit the effort was squashed
“I was kind of isolated so I decided to see what I could do at the end and not waste energy early. A lot of teams had three or four guys still in the front group so it was hard for me to do much,” Costa said. “I led up Libby Hill in the last lap with a group up the road and then up 23rd Street I kind of fell back, I don’t know. I just didn’t have the legs.”
Austrian Felix Gall narrowly beat a disappointed Clement Betouigt-Suire of France who needed just a few additional meters to out-power the exhausted Gall. Rasmus Pedersen (Denmark) placed third. Costa came in 18th, the best of the Americans.
Every enduring venue, race promoter Brook Watts once said, has a jewel in the crown, its centerpiece.
Libby Hill Park, a.k.a. simply Libby Hill, ably filled that role for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia.
The Park’s winding, cobbled path energized the racing and added a classics flavor to the international atmosphere. Its location on a hillside shaped like a terraced bowl provided plenty of bird’s eye viewpoints for spectators. Strangers lended each other a hand for negotiating the steep slopes with slippery grass underfoot.
Between laps when the spectators waited for the riders to return, the Norwegian contingent belted out songs about Edvald Boasson Hagen. Adventurous Americans posed for photos with the red and blue clad gang. Belgians painted faces with thick red, gold, and black stripes replicating the national flag.
Traditional-style homes bordering the top of the park went all out for the festivities, hanging large and small flags from porches. One home displayed two life-sized riders on a roof; the bent over figure of one mimicking a moment of suffering.
And on a quiet side of Libby Hill, visitors posed with the ubiquitous Virginia “LOVE” emblem. In love with each other. In love with competitive cycling.
She didn’t plan to attack. Chloe Dygert was simply stronger than any of the junior women in the seventy-plus world championship road race field sweeping around downtown Richmond, Virginia.
So she pulled away from the lead group of four containing America’s Emma White, Poland’s Agnieszka Skalniak, and Juliette Labous from France.
While Dygert sped away White reigned in the other leaders. Behind them by about 50 seconds, USA teammates Skylar Schneider and Ashlyn Woods monitored the pack.
“I think we really worked together as a team,” said White. “I couldn’t be more grateful for [Skylar and Ashlyn]. I’m just really proud.”
Dygert also took little credit for herself aside from owning up to targeting rainbow jerseys in both the time trial and the road race. She scored both of them.
“Emma did an amazing job. At the beginning of the race there were attacks and she was up front, always on everything. I’m amazed and I’m so glad she’s on my team,” she said post-race.
On the finish line Dygert decided not to raise her arms in a victory salute. “I don’t think there should be anything more than celebrating your team. I was just honored to be on Team USA and get a win for Team USA.
“I have a great support system and I couldn’t have done it without their help and I’m just so grateful. Everybody’s just been there the whole way,” Dygert continued.
“I thought it was great to go 1-2 again, shows how hard the US has worked, how awesome our staff is, and our directors.”
White perhaps felt a bit to prove from a patriotic perspective. “I’m proud to be an American and I think today’s performance helped prove ourselves – not only to ourselves but to the team and to cycling across the world,” White said. “I think I am speechless.”
Third place finisher Skalniak had something to prove too. The European time trial champion in her age group, she felt ill ahead of the Richmond time trial and didn’t perform as well as she had hoped.
In 2014 Skalniak took the bronze medal in the junior women’s road race. It was important to repeat the feat, she said through an interpreter, to prove that last year’s result did not come by accident, that she is on the rise in her sport. Her medal was also an important signal for Polish women’s cycling.
In 2016 the Tour of Poland will include a woman’s edition. It will offer the same prize money for women. The same TV time. “The idea is to make one big Tour de Pologne,´ said the interpreter, “equal for men and women.”
He pops in from time to time and when he does the field takes notice.
Fernando Riveros (full name Hector Fernando Riveros Paez) races mountain bikes for the Raleigh Clement Professional Cycling Team. In the off-season – living as he does in Colorado Springs and not far from some super-competitive local and UCI cyclocross races – he likes to try his hand at them. Even if he starts in the last row or falls behind due to a mechanical, he fights like nobody’s business to move up in position.
On Sunday he took a solo win in the men’s elite Rhyolite Park Cross race. He succeeded despite crashing off the bike twice and dropping a chain once. Upon hearing that story a fellow competitor replied, “Don’t tell me that.”
Riveros appeared collected on the bike, but it wasn’t easy. “I was suffering because I haven’t trained at all so I was breathing hard,” he said.
Like the women’s field the strongest men emerged early on. Riveros took the hole shot. Alongside him the first lap were: Spencer Powlison (Evol Racing), Tim Allen (Feedback Sports), Brady Kappius (CLIF Bar) and Jason Donald (Skratch Labs). Ken Benesh (Evol Racing) took part in the group then dropped off in the second circuit.
In the opening lap Riveros misjudged a corner and kissed the paved pedestrian path.
“I just recovered and let the group pull me back,” he late explained. “I waited and waited to see when to attack. I saw I was really strong on the run-up and that’s where I attacked.”
For the second half of the race he churned through sand, breathed in the dry track’s dust, and sailed over the triple barriers alone off the front. Kappius, Allen, and Donald chased but couldn’t close the gap. Donald faded near the end.
Allen came in 12 seconds behind Riveros. Kappius and Donald followed in third and fourth. A retired pro roadie, Donald has taken to ‘cross and plans to compete more.
He and the rest of the men’s elite field can try to take their revenge this coming weekend in Boulder’s Valmont Bike Park at the Cyclo X series’ first engagement of the season. Riveros, who is not on the Raleigh-Clement cyclocross roster, is looking forward to it.
“I’m really stoked,” he said about the Rhyolite result. “I’ve been off the bike, not training at all. I’m just riding for fun because my [mountain bike] season is over. If I get last or I get first it’s the same for me because it’s just for fun.”
For full results, see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.
[updated September 16, 2015]
Early season in cyclocross is like an introduction to a novel: hints are dropped about what we might expect over the next four months, but the full story has yet to unfold. Sunday’s Rhyolite Park Cross, the second race on the Front Range, Colorado 2015/16 schedule, provided clues about the local women’s elite scene as well as tomorrow’s CrossVegas.
In the women’s elite race at Rhyolite junior Ashley Zoerner (Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru) took the hole shot ahead of Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team).
Clue: the first minute of future starts might run exceptionally fast.
A new character appeared in the women’s field, mountain biker Evelyn Dong (Sho-Air/Cannondale). She scaled the long, steep run-up on her mountain bike where the others shouldered and ran. Her technical skills also appeared on off-camber descents with U-turns.
Hint: perhaps Dong will add more ‘cross races to her mountain bike off-season. She’d be fun to watch. If she gets fourth at Rhyolite on a mountain bike, just imagine where she could finish with a ‘cross steed.
Third from the front after a start following Gould’s wheel, Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports) passed the Luna Pro Team rider at the end of lap one; word around course was Gould’s saddle had tilted up. She fought back after addressing the problem but Vestal won with a comfortable lead over Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement Professional Cyclocross Team).
“I felt great and just kept pushing the pace and did my thing,” Vestal said later. “It was fun.”
She said the main challenges were the steep long run-up festooned with Colorado flags and the 95 degree Fahrenheit heat. “That run-up takes so much out of your legs. And the heat – the last lap I tapered it back a little because I felt not safe with the heat; I just wanted to be careful.”
Clue: Vestal may be on her way to a repeat of last year’s outstanding season.
Vestal will race in the USA Cycling women’s open race at CrossVegas before the World Cup gets underway.
Along with Gould, Mani will start the CrossVegas World Cup event. The French woman took the first turn at Rhyolite mid-field. Then she marched through the local elite amateurs and passed Gould, at mid-race greeting a spectator calmly.
Clue: Mani is primed for a good performance in Vegas.
She also found the breath to encourage Melissa Barker (Evol Racing). With one lap to go Mani moved around her and into second on course but not before shouting, “C’mon, go, go!”
Barker finished third. Boulder Cycle Sport’s Kristin Weber came in fifth after Dong and Gould placed sixth.
Final clue: Strong efforts from Barker and Weber should keep things interesting. They finished second and first respectively in the women’s 40 to 44 masters field at Austin’s ‘cross nationals.
For full results, see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.
In mid-August Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru elite cyclocross team director Adam Rachubinski held a pre-season team building camp for the development dream squad. Based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, activities included threshold fitness testing performed under the watchful eye of pro rider and coach Jake Wells, guidance on how to represent sponsors, and lots of riding.
For a treat and to learn more about the team’s bike frame sponsor Moots, Rachubinski slotted in a tour of the Moots factory in Steamboat.
There Ashley Zoerner came practically nose to nose with the silver-gray titanium tubes a welder began to fashion into a PSYCHLO X built specially for her. The elite ‘crossers will race on either PSYCHLO X RSL or PSYCHLO X frames. Moots is also providing titanium stems and seatposts.
Also at the tour and camp were her elite teammates: junior national champions Gage Hecht and Katie Clouse, and U23 rider Brannan Fix who showed well at cyclocross worlds in Tabor. The fifth elite rider, Evan Clouse, was racing on European roads at that time with USA Cycling. Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru Cycling Team supports over thirty additional juniors, such as Drew Sotebeer who participated in the Steamboat camp.
Skilled in the fundamentals and more, the elite riders can dismount and remount in their sleep (Hecht manages it on both sides of the bike). Wells, head coach for the camp, focused instead on handling skills, like carrying speed through technical areas. They practiced on single and double track and traced 50 miles of dirt and gravel byways featured in the annual Moots Colorado Ranch Rally.
Maybe best of all, the riders got to know each other better. Katie Clouse for example, finds it hard to hold a straight face for a photo; Zoerner can teach her a thing or two on that score.
Their game faces should prevail when the team makes its UCI race debut in Providence on October 3 and 4 at the KMC Cyclo-cross Festival. The elite riders will contest September local races in Colorado and Utah.
As is so often the case when Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) comes out to play on a cyclocross bike, he rode alone off the front, this time in a local race north of Boulder, Colorado. The J-Pow / FasCat Cyclocross Season Kick-Off – which Powers won – capped off a three-day camp organized for last week by FasCat Coaching with the reigning national champion.
The victory, albeit at a good-times local event, sent a signal. Powers is ready for this coming weekend’s first race on the USA Cycling Pro CX calendar, Full Moon Vista – Ellison Park Cyclocross Festival, in Rochester, NY.
He weighs in a wee bit more than this time last year due to changed-up off-season training. He’s gained, he said, “a couple of pounds” of muscle (not the three reported by VeloNews).
After the race Powers couldn’t say if the effort felt any different as a result of the new program and other changes that include bike position. As his first hard competition for the 2015/16 season, it’s too soon to tell.
“I’m undercooked with race efforts at this point. Those are going to come up as we get more towards CrossVegas,” Powers said. “But I’m real happy with where I’m at and it was obviously a confidence booster to take a win today though it was more for fun and bike handling and getting a hard workout in.”
Without Limits Productions promoted the non-USAC sanctioned J-Pow / FasCat Cyclocross Season Kick-Off which was designed as an opportunity to stretch the legs and have a good time. It took place on Oskar Blues Brewery property. With a pond, views of the Rocky Mountain foothills and fields dotted with grazing horses, the space provided one of the most scenic venues for ‘cross racing on the Front Range. The course swung by a live band, through hops fields, and over a fly-over and tree trunk shaped barriers.
“It’s awesome to have such a big, local company like Oskar Blues invite us out and to this type of event. It felt like an old school mountain bike race,” Powers said. “There were a few hundred people out here. It just felt good.”
See more images from both races, a write-up with more quotes from Powers on his website, and also a ProVéloPassion report with photo gallery on the women’s elite race won by Ellen Van Loy of Telenet-Fidea.
Ellen Van Loy came on a lark and ran away with the win.
While staying in Boulder with her Telenet-Fidea Cyclocross Team for training prior to America’s first World Cup cyclocross event at CrossVegas, Van Loy dropped in on the first local cyclocross race of the season. The free-style event scheduled C, B, and A classes; the Belgian visitor entered the women’s A race which began one minute after the men’s A start.
After a fast rush to the first corner led by masters national champion Kristin Weber (Boulder Cycle Sport), Van Loy took the lead on a dusty track where the temperature rose to a sunny 35 Celsius. Meredith Miller (Noosa Professional Cyclocross Team) finished second and “retired” Nicole Duke placed third.
“It’s not what we are used to in Belgium,” Van Loy said while hydrating after the hour effort. “The heat is, I think, my biggest partner in crime. It’s OK. The dryness is also a problem, but it went well.”
Local riders like Melissa Barker (Evol Racing) felt the stretch required by the extended length of the women’s competition set by the non-sanctioned event.
“It’s hot and it’s 15 minutes longer than we normally race and I’m pretty tired,” she said as she tried to cool down in the shade by an inviting pond.
Earlier in the afternoon, close to 400 athletes participated in the C and B races. That built a considerable mass of spectators for the elite races. Van Loy enjoyed her share of the heavy heckling that ensued at the top of the steep run-up.
“It was awesome,” she said about the local Colorado cyclocross environment. “I had to laugh a lot. There were a few guys standing near the track. They were shouting and yelling and laughing at me, but it was nice – I could laugh with them too.”
While waiting for the podium ceremonies, Van Loy spent some time chatting with Dan Dombroski, the brother of Amy Dombroski and co-founder of the Amy D. Foundation with his wife, Nicole Novembre. As a member of the Telenet-Fidea team Amy enjoyed the support of a fan club in Hoechst, Belgium. After the accident that claimed Amy’s life, the club moved to support Van Loy when she signed with the team.
Telenet-Fidea Cyclocross Team remains in Boulder for the next two weeks. Racing in the Colorado late summer furnace should set Van Loy up well for the desert heat at CrossVegas on September 16.
— Ellen Van Loy (@Ellenvanloy) August 26, 2015
The event was also the scene of a big announcement for the Noosa Professional Cyclocross Team: the squad of Miller and Allen Krughoff has secured a new sponsor, Longmont, Colorado based Oskar Blues Brewery.
By some mix-up in communication, I am two minutes late. Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) flops onto a bench just outside the teams dining room in a Breckenridge hotel after the time trial in the USA Pro Challenge. It’s 7:45 p.m. and he’s hungry.
And so the interview begins.
“After a stellar season, BMC Racing Team’s Rohan Dennis seeks to elevate his achievements further while managing that short fuse he talked about during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge…”
Read the full story at Australia’s SBS Cycling Central.
Rohan Dennis USA Pro Challenge photo gallery