Friday, January 28, 2011

2011 CX World Championships Sankt Wendel

Sankt Wendel 2011
Under 23 and Juniors
Saturday, January 29th
Juniors @ 5am EST
U-23 @ 8am EST

Elite Men & Women

Sunday, January 30th
Women @ 5am EST
Men @ 8am EST

Channel 3
Channel 7
Channel 8
Channel 9

Junior Final
He may be
fourth overall in the World Cup, but Clement Venturini is the World Champion in the Junior level for 2011. In fact, it was a French sweep of the podium with the Doubey brothers Fabien and Loic taking 2nd and 3rd. Laurens Sweeck, the Junior WC Champ had to settle for 5th, and Jakob Skala of the Czech Republic took 4th.

Venturini broke away from the
pack to lead by about 14 seconds, then he nearly ruined his gap with a slip on a slick off-camber in the last lap that had him tied up in the fencing. That was after a fall in the previous lap as his front wheel smacked down on a greasy turn. Even with these struggles, he still won by a wide margin over the Doubeys, who themselves won with a good buffer over the rest of the chasers.

(photo courtesy Sporza livestream)
van der Haar takes it!

U-23 Final

Whew! That was a good tight race. Any one of about 12 or 13 guys could have had the world champion's jersey right down to the last lap. And Danny Summerhill (USA) was on
e of them. He finished 13th, but was riding with or near the contenders throughout. Very impressive.

(photo courtesy Sporza livestream)
This was the tough spot for everyone.

It was actually an odd situation where Mike Teunissen (NED) gapped the pack by a wide margin with half a lap to go and barring a fall looked like the sure winner, but his own teammate, Tijmen Eising, reeled him in with another teammate, Lars van der Haar, on his wheel and Karel Hnik (CZE) right there as well. In the final stretch, Eising faded, van der Haar opened up a lead, and Teunissen and Hnik sprinted for second, with Teunissen taking it, and van der Haar winning overall.

(photo courtesy Sporza livestream)
This isn't mud, it's grease!

That gives the World Cup winner, van der Haar, the World Champion jersey as well. Great nail biter of a finish.

Pick your favorite.
Albert, Stybar, Pauwels, Nys, Vantornout, Meeusen, Chainel, Mourey, Walsleben?
Compton, Vos, Kupfernagle, van Paassen, Nash, Cant, Ferrand Prevot, Ferrier-Bruneau?

This should be good. And if you want to get a preview of the up and coming stars in cyclocross, watch on Saturday morning where you'll see the Juniors and the U-23 battling it out. Keep in mind, Albert, Stybar and Boom only rose into the Elite ranks in the past few years. They were the hotshots in these younger groups not long ago.

Then, get up early on Sunday for the women. The rare moments that the women are televised is at 4am on the Universal Channel (295 on my TV) and I'm not usually up at that hour for much of anything. But it happens on occasion. There's never a commentary, just crowd noises and the cameras following the leaders.

But 5am is possible and since these are the World Championships, and if we're lucky, they'll commentate on this one. Even if they don't, it will be worth watching. The top women are excellent CX'ers and it will be fun to see if Compton powers away from the pack or if the others are tired of her winning ways and able to match her skills.

Hang around until 8 and watch the wheel wrangling among the men. Albert's on a roll, but this might not be his course or his day. That's part of the fun of CX. The top guys have been passing it back and forth all year. It will be interesting to watch who brings their A game to this one.

Great weekend for CX! Get up early, put on your helmet, clip into the pedals, aim your computer screen at the handlebars, and spin along with the best. You're there!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Amateur World CX Championships, 1988

You set off on a ride on a cold, oppressive rainy day wearing only a thin layer of clothes. Your hands are frozen to the handlebars. The pavement is a whirl of spray making it nearly impossible to see the other wheels spinning all around you. Your wheels drop off-road into a disgusting soup of muddy grit. Pedal hard.

The rain is falling, the wind's picking up. The mud gets so deep that you can no longer ride through it. Your feet are not only cold and wet, they're now getting sucked into the sodden earth with every trudging step.

There are sections of this hellish route that you can ride, but it takes all of your riding skills and every dram of concentration to keep from sliding out and lying prone in the mire. Within a few minutes you're exhausted. It will be nearly an hour before you reach your destination. Your arms and legs already hurt, your lungs are searing, but thank goodness you're no longer frozen. The effort is warming if nothing else.

Just as you think it can't get worse you come to a hill. It's as muddy as the flats. Spanning across the slope are hefty logs. At first you think that's a good thing. They will at least offer a place to get your footing. But the logs require giant steps to get over and with the bike on your shoulder it takes all your effort and an occasional push on your thigh to lift yourself up.

The slide down the other side is perilous. Somehow you stay upright. The course flattens out, but the mud gets too deep again to ride through. You're running. Mud covers your eyes. Somebody put up stupid boards you can barely see, much less step over. Boards. Why?

Back on the bike, but it's still mud and the legs are on fire. Another murky uphill looms before you, but this one doesn't have logs and it's slightly off camber. You feel like Sisyphus, only instead of pushing a rock, you're carrying a bike.

Every time you hop on that bike it's a challenge to get your feet back in the toe clips. Yes, toe clips. This is the pre-clipless era, the Precliprian Age. The bikes are ferrous and heavy. The thin round top tube cuts into your shoulder.

Eventually, the wheel finds its way back to wet, rain-slicked pavement. After a few hundred feet you feel like you've been here before, but it's not over. Ten minutes have passed and you still have fifty minutes to go before you're allowed to quit. And the thought of quitting is ever-present in your thoughts. As you press forth it's like a duplicating cartoon backdrop, the same crap ridden scene repeating lap after lap. You have been here before. The muck returns.

At this point you're so covered in dense swathes of mud that you're indistinguishable from an ape. Yes, you've regressed. This is evolution in reverse.

This is cyclocross, only it's 1988 in Hagendorf, Germany. You're not going to win. You're barely holding on. You know that the kind of cyclocross you do in your home region is a thin veneer of this kind of racing, this kind of course. You're riding harder than you've ever ridden, in more pain than you've ever imagined, and it feels like you're going backwards. Once you finish--if you finish--you will have taken a step back, in Darwinian terms. Maybe a few steps back. You have a gritty taste of Hominoid hormones salivating across your tongue.

And you're only an amateur. You do this for "fun." You're a subspecies of the Elite class who will race this course after you've chewed it up.

Cyclocross in toeclips. Life at its primitive source.

Watch the
1988 Hagendorf Cyclocross World Championships in 8 YouTube videos back-to-back. The Precliprian Age. Enjoy.


Karel Camrda - Czech (went on to
place 2nd in the Elite Class of the 1992 World Championships in Leeds, UK.)
Roger Honegger - Switzerland
Henrik Djernis - Denmark

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hoogerheide World Cup Cyclocross 2011

Livestream Goes Dead in Pont-Chateau
Well, last week at Pont-Chateau was exciting, especially when it appears as if all servers broadcasting the race crashed worse than Lars Boom at Baal. With more than half the race completed, the screens went blank and left us all with only our imaginations to complete the final laps.

Niels Albert and Kevin Pauwels were battling it out at the front with an insurmountable lead, barring disaster. Sorry Kevin, but I wrongly predicted that Niels would wear you down. Nice to see that you're keeping Niels humble.

Behind was a large cluster of major contenders for 3rd and Sven Nys off the back of that group seemingly out of contention all together. With an odd crash that brought down nearly half that pack and the always miraculous Sven reeling in the rest of the group for a raging sprint for the final podium spot with a disappointed Steve Chainel settling for 4th.

Oh yes, what a race. And how cool it is that my imagined finish was so far off. I did have dreams, staring at that black screen, that Tim Johnson stood on that lowest step of the podium at the finish. Still, he was great throughout the race and should be very proud of that 12th place finish. He was right there with the major players all the way to the end.

It took a few hours, but the last two laps were finally posted on the YouTube Cyclocross Channel and there was only a lap or so of the complete race that we'd lost out on.

Hoogerheide Roster
For the final race of the World Cup season at Hoogerheide there should be a full roster from each team, including Zdenek Stybar this time. Not only that, but Radomir Simunek is also on the start roster after his recuperation from the broken collarbone at Zolder last month. Interestingly, Bart Wellens is not lining up. He walked off the course last week at Pont-Chateau and I haven't found any news reports on the reason for this. Lars Boom is not on the UCI race roster.

USA (Go guys!)
Jeremy Powers
Timothy Johnson
James Driscoll
Ryan Trebon
Jonathan Page

Derrick St. John
Craig Richie
Shaun Adamson

In any case, it should be a great race and an indication of the racers' condition a week before the World Championships in Sankt Wendel, Germany.

Let's hope we get to see the race this Sunday from start to finish. Imagination is a wonderful thing, but in this case I'd rather watch the wheels digging into the dirt than create my own pretend scenario.

Livestream ("Cross" your fingers)

Sunday, January 23rd @ 8:40amEST(+-)
Channel 3
Channel 7
Channel 8

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pontchateau World Cup Cyclocross LiveStream


8:30am EST, Sunday, January 16, 2011

Channel 3 (Includes interactive commentary)
Channel 7
Channel 8
Channel 9

Sven Nys feels better after his inconveniently timed bout with flu, say's he'll be there. Niels Albert will be racing his first World Cup race since winning as Belgian National Champion. Zdenek Stybar says he won't be there, though this has pissed a lot of racers off because it's felt he needs to carry his national champion banner to World Cup races for the good of promoting the sport. Instead, he's training in Spain for the upcoming World CX Championships on January 30th in Sankt Wendel, Germany. Ah, the drama!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

European National CX Championships 2011

Sunday, January 9th will be the day of reckoning for elite European racers in cyclocross. Whoever wins in their respective country will be wearing the national champ jersey for a full year.

These races will be livestreamed from Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Your struggle will be deciding which to focus on because, unfortunately, they're basically running simultaneously.

Belgium | Now scheduled for 8:00am EST
Elite - Albert 1st, Wellens 2nd, Pauwels 3rd, Aernout 4th
U-23 - Joeri Adams 1st
Women - Sanne Cant 1st, Nancy Bober 2nd
Channel 3
Channel 5
Channel 7
Channel 8

Netherlands | 9:00am EST
This is no longer listed in programming, but worth trying, nevertheless.
Channel 12
Channel 13

France | 9:15am EST
Mourey 1st
Gadret 2nd
Jeannesson 3rd
Chainel 4th
Bazin 5th
Channel 9
Channel 10
Channel 11