Photo by Slate Olson
With six riders representing five different countries spanning the globe, Team Rapha-FOCUS had their work cut out for them last weekend. From the United States to Switzerland, Germany and France, it should be noted that this was truly a global affair. When the dust, mud, ice and snow settled, there were new champions in the mix.
United States National Championships – Madison, Wisconsin
Photos by Slate Olson
The talk of the town was during the pre-ride show of the National Championships in the Midwest. Wisconsin is not known for their temperate climates this time of year. Frigid temperatures turned the course into what looked to be the epitome of truly epic conditions. Disc brakes stopped working, bikes were covered in a mixture of snow and ice and their pilots could be seen abandoning in every corner of the race course.
The conditions improved only slightly for race day. As the sun came out the tracks made by the riders on the previous day hardened, softened and then hardened again to turn the parcours into an ever changing labyrinth of front-wheel-stealing ruts. This would wreak havoc on not only the riders, but their mechanics as well.
In the Elite Men’s race Jonathan Page brought home the win. Page, who spends most of his year racing over in Belgium, rode away in the middle of the race and never looked back. However, if he had, he would have seen one of the breakout performances of the year.
Team Rapha-FOCUS saw the future of their team and the sport of cyclocross itself unfold before their very eyes as rider Zach McDonald put in the surprise effort of the day. Even though he was unable to close the distance between he and Page, Zach was able to put enough time on his competitors to take home the second place on the day.
Reigning US National Champion, Jeremy Powers, finished in 6th. We will check in with Jeremy later next week as he is already now in Louisville prepping for the World Championships in a few weeks time.
However, the real downside to the weekend for Rapha-FOCUS was when rider Chris Jones, who took time off from his road training camp with United Healthcare to race Cyclocross Nationals, crashed during warmups and broke his thumb.
On the other side of the pond we were treated with luck that was all over the place.
French National Championships – Nommay
Photo by Jeremy Dunn
Julie Krasniak was off to a great start, taking the hole shot from her compatriots. But, that was as far as she got. A patch of ice near the end of the long straight start ended her bid for the title rather quickly as she crashed out and watched the race get away from her. She made a valiant attempt at getting back to the front, working her way from around 25th to 4th in a matter of three or four laps. Which is when tragedy struck once again, and she found herself wrestling with a flat tire. She finished a respectable, but disappointing 6th place.
In case you are wondering about her kit: no, this is not the new Team Rapha-FOCUS kit for 2013. This is the kit of Lorraine, the county from which Julie hails. At the French National Championships you are only allowed to represent your trade team if they are a registered UCI team.
Swiss National Championships – Steinmaur
Rapha-FOCUS rider Jasmin Achermann will return once again to the World Championships with the red and white of her native Switzerland on her back. This is the 7th national title for Acherman and at 23, she shows no signs of letting up. Look for her this weekend at the Hoogerheide World Cup as she defends her top ten overall in the series. The World Championships in Louisville will be her first trip to the United States.
German National Championships – Bad Salzdetfurth
Multiple crashes (five to be exact) would be the bane of Sabrina Schweitzer’s race weekend in Germany. The young rider was feeling good about her chances to represent for her nation in Louisville, who in a strange turn of events decided not to send any women at all to represent Germany. It was a surprising decision, considering Sabrina’s second place finish at the National Championship event.
British National Championships – Bradford
One of the toughest things in sport on the athlete side of things is to tell yourself when to stop. Especially when you know that you can be a contender. But, this is exactly what Gabby Day chose to do. With a chest cold that just wouldn’t quit she sidelined herself to recover and get ready for Worlds. 2012 Champion Helen Wyman battled it out with Nikki Harris, losing to a misstep near the end of the race. Not only is she a fantastic winner, but she is gracious in the defeat as well, see below. Gabby has made the Worlds team for Great Britain and will focus her energies there.
Take a look at Helen Wyman’s op. ed. piece in Velonews that discusses some of the changes needed in the Women’s Cyclocross department. Helen’s great article has been the talk of Twitter for the last few days and has sparked more than one debate on the subject. With the World Championships right around the corner (February 2-3) everything is at that heightened state of awareness (as it should be.)
We will look for great things in the coming weeks as the racers — especially US based ones — prepare for the first ever World Championships to be held outside mainland Europe, in Louisville, Kentucky.