21 Feb Elite CX World Championship Louisville, Kentucky USA
It has been almost 3 weeks since the first ever US held CX World Championship Elite races took place. Besides Enzo having to balance the prep for the 2013 road season, team kits, new product launch, recruiting, training, coaching and production for our sponsored pro teams. Add additional traveling to colleges watching indoor track meets, combined has made an interesting life cocktail. Writing race reports, weeks after the fact, is a by-product of this tasty beverage.
Going back to Master’s race day in Louisville, after watching others race while enjoying the buzz I had from drinking two 9+ percent IPA’s, Dave and I walked to Eva Bandman to watch the Elite’s pre riding the course, which was open for two hours. It was worth the 1/2 mile walk, seeing quite a few people we knew doing the same thing, without the IPA’s. We are like little kids watching the Euro cross master’s perform a free CX clinic, riding sections differently each lap, looking for he best/fastest lines. It is evident their handling skills are more refined than most riders we see in the local scene. I spot David Lombardo and throw a loving heckle his way as he is blasting through the sand section. In typical David fashion, he sees me, spins around, rides backwards on the course and gives a respectful hello shaking our hands. David is looking quite happy in his mud speckled Team USA jersey. Obviously this is a huge accomplishment, making the Worlds team as a younger Junior. This will not be the last you hear of David Lombardo.
As David rolls away, his dad appears. Chris is an old team mate of Enzo. I mean old because he is old, almost as old as me, laughter. Ok that is not funny but it is to me. We laugh about the cool factor, that his son is representing Team USA.
Making our way back to the car I have to rendezvous with Heidi at the Galt house, she is being dropped off there, after hitching a ride to Louisville with the Schwitzers. We grab some food hanging with Dave until it is lights out. Friday A.M. we move into our new hotel for the weekend, quite an upgrade from the man cave Dave and I were staying in. A quick Starbucks and we are off to Slade, Kentucky. Home of the Red River Gorge, Aka, the Midwest center of STEEP rock climbing. Home of super steep climbing areas named, The Motherload, or the madness cave. Routes appropriately named, Omaha Beach, Blood Bath, and Pushin up daisies. See the photos of the Madness cave at the Motherload. Heidi has not been here yet. Thinking this would be a fun hiking the huge area, while seeing her oldest daughters favorite play ground. The temps never went about 22 F, but the sun and blue sky were out, which was nice after many gray days of rain and mud. After an awesome 3 hours in Daniel Boone National Forest, it is back to Louisville for a nice bottle of wine, slab of cow, and some chocolate for desert, I love dates with my girl.
Saturday and it is time to combine work and play. At the breakfast buffet we talk Enzo’s with a few people while eating. With the car loaded, we make our way to Eva Bandman Park, through the 2 inches of snow that fell over night. Walking the 1/2 mile from the parking area, we find ourselves in a group of Belgians, who are laughing and smoking cigs. About 100 meters from the entrance gate is the line to get in, so we think. I hear someone saying VIP passes to the right, and there is no line, nice! We walk right in the venue with 10 minutes before the start of the Junior race. I weasel a free program, showing the full page add of Enzo to the people selling them, it never hurts to ask!
Enzo has raced many time in Eva Bandman during the USGP weekend that is held on this course. The place is more crowded than I have ever seen it, more that I imagined. I am excited that the park is this full, knowing there are at least 1000 or more waiting in line. There has been an odd amount of negative chi with regard to this event. I can’t explain in detail, but those on the inner circle know what I am talking about. This will sound crazy but It seemed like their were people that wanted this event to fail, being the first time on US soil. What I can see, this is far from a failure and the day is just beginning.
Heidi has already received many comments about the pimp coat, a 3/4 length fake fur that is Enzo’s team colors of blue, dark blue, and purple. This is the BIG CX event coat, worn exclusive by Heidi which always starts conversations wherever they go. Pimp coat is the ice breaker then Heidi goes into promo mode on their asses, what a brilliant sales tool. I get to talk to friends, watch racing, only having to carrying the swag bags while Heidi gives stuff away. After the junior race ends, my voice is strained from yelling for little Lombardo, who did very well.
Into the VIP tent where there is food and beer, all part of the ticket fee. So where will the best place be to talk
Enzo’s, ahhh, the beer line where else? I find a seat at the Pony Shop table, with Lou and many of the crew, who are not sober, while Heidi rocks the beer que.
We watch the U23 race and return to the beer line, I say to Heidi, “when in Rome”, and we start the beer flowing for ourselves. Next up is the women, which should be a great battle. We hear there is a crash early in the first lap, sounds like team USA decided to throw themselves on the ground, giving M. Vos the early lead. This would prove to the fatal blow to our squad as Vos again showed why she is the best racer in the world! Their is only one racer that I know that is her equal, and that is Eddy Merckx, that is what I said!
Check her age, I say she will surpass Merckx as the greatest racer ever, one mans opinion.
Compton raced like a champion as well, chasing from on the ground to a second place finish. It would have been nice to see the fight we all hoped for Compton vs Vos, maybe another day. I have to mention the ride of the day in this race goes to Marion Knight/CannonDale racer, Kaitlin Antonneau finishing 10th. Not only is Kaitlin an Enzo’s user, she is the sharp end of women’s US CX future. She is coached by another Katie who’s last name is Compton, so I think I am correct in saying this. Congratulations Kaitlin.
By now you know the drill, back to the VIP beer line, drink, talk, take photo’s with the crazy Belgians, Cunucks, and other alcohol drinking CX fans, all waiting for the men’s main event. At the start of this race it is what we all wanted to see, a single string of connected racers going full gas. A small gap early but nothing establishing until later in the race. As suspected, the Belgians and Netherlanders are leading. Their skill level is just better than ours. I could go into how this gap can be ,but today this all positive, a no rant blog.
About the 30 minute mark of the race, Heidi and I see Joan Hanscom walking the venue alone like a deer in the headlights. I grab her, giving her a huge hug, saying this is incredible, what an awesome turn out, look at this place, listen to the sound of the World CX Championship in Louisville!!!! She smiles and starts crying, happy tears for sure. I will not post her comments, that for us only. I do promise to re-visit this subject at a later date. Joan, you are awesome, thank you for being you and the HUGE amount of work that went into this great event.
The battle is going on in the front with Sven Nys, Klaas Vantornout, Francis Mourey, and Kevin Pauwels. Not all together but all right there. Frenchman Mourey is not with the lead group now with 3 laps to go and at 2 laps, on the start/finish section Pauwels drops his chain and looses about 5-6 places, his chance of a podium is done. Vantornout looses contact after a slight bobble and Nys nails the barriers with his signature move, jumping the barriers while on the bike. He has three seconds, which is a big enough gap, if he does not make any mistakes. I am standing at the start finish for the money shot and see Sven enter the Pave’ section still holding the 3 seconds gap. He sprints like he means it and takes the rainbow jersey, awesome.
Back to the VIP tent to chill and have one more beer before the trek back to the hotel. The energy is high, my observation is the CycloCross World Championships in Louisville, were a huge success. The general feedback I have received was 95% positive, with only a few small issues that need to be cleaned up for the next time they are held here. I am sure USA will be hosting this event again after this display of passion, by the working staff and the fans. Heidi and I are walking away feeling great about the day, and the energy from the crowd is super positive.
Next up or soon, a surprise interview. Until then, safe training and racing kids, road season is almost here!
Check out all the photos below.