08 Feb Cincinnati Elite Race Report
With my race being over I go back to the car, load the bikes and change. I want to watch the Elites play on this course. The sun is high which is creating a thin layer of grease on the frozen terrain which means, handling skills will be needed in order to win today. These are the perfect conditions to learn small handling techniques by watching the top CX racers. Today is going to be special because Niels Albert is racing, actually I suspect he will be giving a clinic to our local USA boys. I mean no disrespect to the USA CX system, but there is a problem supporting the junior racer and this needs to be fixed.
First the women line up with a few talented racers on the front row. Luna has both their fast girls here, Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash, add Meredith Miller and a few others to round out this really fast front row. The whistle sounds and the sprint for the first spot is on, with Nash getting the hole shot. Not only does Nash get the hole shot but she throws down 4 consecutive hot laps, 7:58, 7:53, 7:52, and 8:00. So 30 minutes of a 45 minute race and Katerina has established well over a minute on the field, impressive. Georgia Gould has also whipped out strong lap times and is solidly in 2nd place. The Luna Chicks will take 1-2 today, making a difficult course look easy. Now for the other side of the coin, M.Miller. Meredith is riding well, looking fast but clearly hit the deck early. She has a large mud stain on her back and has to make up for being on the ground, currently in 5th place. After bridging to the 3rd place rider, I see her go to the front trying to break the will of this rider on the long uphill false flat. This does not look like it will work since the other riders cadence looks very smooth, translation, she is comfortable on the wheel. Sure enough a 1/2 lap later, Meredith is separated, back to fourth place. It is clear she went down again and must have decided to back off a little, I suspect not wanting to hurt herself with Worlds only 1 week away, a smart choice. I am impressed with these 3 racers standing out.
Staging for the men was not normal, first call up, the reining World CX Champion Neils Albert, who looked like he was asleep. Then his U23 teammate and then the heads of state from the USA. Page, Trebon, Powers, and our local favorite Drew Dillman. Those that do not know, Drew raced road for the Pro Chain Development Squad, who is coached by John Gatch. Drew is currently racing for Marion University, in Indianapolis and continues to kick ass. Last year Drew was the first finisher for Team USA at Worlds as a Junior, so everyone keep an eye on the young man.
The whistle sounds and guess who is in the front, J. Powers, but not for long. Albert blows by in the dirt and starts the clinic with 3 crazy fast hot laps, 7:04, 7:04, and 7:06. This pace has earned hem a 12 second lead over his team mate and Jonathan Page. I have to say this, It was like a cat playing with mice! The speed was not that much faster than the two chasers, but the handling skill was super human! Neils was riding off camber grease making it look dry, while the chasers where having to be cautious in those same places. Then the rest of the race looked like they were master racers, slip sliding all over the place. I am talking about Powers, Trebon, and the rest of our best racers. I kept thinking, the US racers do not stand a chance against the Belgium team at Worlds. Not because we are slow, we aren’t. Our boys just do not have the skill in the slippery conditions, this seems to be the noticeable difference. Belguim starts their kids riding CX bikes while still in diapers, so racing in the sand and mud is like breathing to them.
Anyway, I look forward to the day when we, US, closes the gap. USAC should consider funding the Junior racing program in order for this gap to be reduced. As a supporter of many young racers, I am extremely frustrated that our top young racers must pay their own way to euro-CX camp and any races over the pond, while wearing team USA kits. This has been a problem for over 30 years and it is just wrong for the financial burden to land on the Chicago Cross scene. The Chicago racers stepping up, paying for one of their great young racers, making it possible for him to race world cup events. The CCC is already leading the way for junior development in CX racing, why does USAC insist on their customers paying twice? The fact that these young racers have to ask for the money is absurd. If a racer is wearing your jersey, you should be paying for the representation! Okay, enough of the rant, their are many great people working for USAC at our local races, none of this rant is directed towards them. I am grateful for the hard work you all put in for our race scene making it the best in the country, thank you.
Back to the report, The race is in the Albert bag, making it look easy. Powers and Trebon are closing the gap to Page with 3 laps to go. Tim Johnson and Drew Dillman are battling for 10th place. 2 laps to go and Dillman has opened a gap on Johnson, he is riding a great race, while the old man TJ, looks like he may be saving his legs for next week, just a guess. One to go and Powers is only 5 seconds from Page and has dropped Trebon. Not much is changing other than these guys. Powers makes the catch with 1/4 lap to race when Page bobbles and looses 2-3 seconds, that is the race. Belguim goes 1-2, Powers 3rd, Page 4th and Trebon 5th while Dillman holds on for a solid 10th place finish. Enzo’s racer’s of the day goes to Albert, followed by Drew Dillman.
On a lighter note, while watching the Albert clinic on a technical corner away from he crowd. I find myself about 10 feet from Georgia Gould, who is standing alone. I say hello and ask if she has heard of ButtonHole Chamois Cream. She squares off with a big smile and with both of her index fingers, points to her crotch and laughingly says, wearing it! I was just bitched slapped by Georgia Gould! Stumbling with my retort, I say something stupid like where did you get the ButtonHole? Anyway, this was a funny interaction, at least I thought so. Thanks for the laugh Georgia.
Next up will be the Heat race and master’s final in Louisville. Until then safe training all you roadies, and happy off season to the CX only racers.