U.S. cyclocross stars ready to battle for national supremacy
PORTLAND, OR – The wait is over. On Saturday, Oct. 9, some of the biggest names in North American cyclocross will converge on a former dairy farm in Portland, Oregon, gunning for the leader’s jersey in the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. But there will be no rest for the weary, as the same top field will regroup in Seattle/Tacoma on Oct. 10 for round 2 of the series, and once more do battle for cyclocross supremacy.
"We are excited that the first weekend of the inaugural Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross has finally arrived,” said Paul Salvucci, director of operations for the series. “It’s expected that there will be a great turnout of racers cranking up the competitive heat to the delight of the spectators."
The race that kicks off the six-event national series is the Cannondale Stumptown Cyclocross Classic, held on the grounds of Alpenrose Dairy in the heart of downtown Portland. The dairy’s pastures sit adjacent to the Alpenrose velodrome, providing a unique venue that is just as enticing to spectators as it will be brutal to the racers. Promoter Brad Ross describes the course as fairly flat, but with a heart-stopping 30-meter run-up section that will test the technical skills of the continent’s toughest competitors.
The course won’t be the only challenge that domestic racers like Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai), Carl Decker (Giant/Pearl Izumi) and Adam Craig (Maxxis/Giant) will confront. Making his first North American appearance in several years will be Italian national champion Daniele Pontoni, already tipped as the favorite in this race. Pontoni, who already owns two world championship jerseys, finished fourth in February’s 2004 world championship.
Ross says he expects Ryan Trebon and Barry Wicks (Kona), Mark McCormack (Clif Bar/Colavita Olive Oil), and Jonny Sundt and Canada’s Geoff Kabush (Maxxis/Giant) to be among the top finishers as well. Local favorite Eric Tonkin is also a wheel to watch and could surprise. On the women’s side, the favorites include Anna Milkowski (Rona), Christine Vardaros (Velo Bella) and Northwest favorite Ann Knapp (Kona).
A full day of racing kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with morning preliminary events. The elite women and junior races begin at 12:30 p.m. the elite men and espoirs (under-23 racers) are set to go at 3 p.m. and will race the dairy course until the cows come home.
BATTLE NEAR SEATTLE
It all gears up 24 hours later in Tacoma, Washington, with the Clif Bar Grand Prix of Cyclo-Cross at Fort Steilacoom Park. A strong contingent of Northwest riders will try to outdo Pontoni, McCormack, and Kabush, but promoter Jim Brown says to keep an eye on an old favorite, Marc Gullickson. “The course favors runners who can get a gap on the ‘Kona Knapp Time Run-up,’ but there is a lot of flat fast racing below the hill which will make it hard for a solo rider to get away,” Brown predicts.
Like the Alpenrose course, Fort Steilacoom Park is a mainstay in the Northwest cyclocross scene. This course features sandy soils, wild open fields and some hairpin curves. All of the climbing arrives in the second half of the circuit, which comes to a head at the “Kona Knapp Time Run-up,” an 80-meter, thigh-busting steep run-up that is a huge hit with the fans. Brown says a high-speed technical descent challenges even the savviest racers as it ends in yet another hairpin corner and leads back to the start-finish area.
Preliminary events start at 9 a.m., with the elite women and junior racers taking the start line at 2 p.m. Elite men and espoirs are scheduled to take the field at 3 p.m.
Winners from this weekend races will undoubtedly hold the early advantage in the series contest, and the stakes are huge. Overall winners in the Elite Men, Elite Women, U-23, and Junior Men categories will receive automatic selection to the World Cyclocross Championships in St. Wendel, Germany in February 2005. Master Men 35+ will also be ranked in the series.
Along with title sponsor Crank Brothers and presenting sponsor VeloNews, additional U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross sponsors include Selle Italia, Mavic, Clif Bar, Adidas, and BikeReg.com
The Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series schedule for 2004 is as follows:
Race 1: October 9 – Cannondale Stumptown Cyclocross Classic, Portland, OR.
Race 2: October 10 – Clif Bar Grand Prix, Ft. Steilacoom Park, Tacoma, WA.
For more information about the Cannondale Stumptown Classic, please visit:
For more information about the Clif Bar Grand Prix, please visit:
Race 3: Oct. 30- Michelob ULTRA Gran Prix of Gloucester Race #1, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA.
Race 4: Oct. 31- Michelob ULTRA Gran Prix of Gloucester Race #2, Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, MA.
Race 5: November 20- Beacon CX, Bridgeton, NJ.
Race 6: November 21- Highland Park Cyclocross, Donaldson Park, Highland Park, NJ.
All six races will be held under UCI category and competition regulations. Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Series leaders will be recognized at the conclusion of each event. Overall winners in the Elite Men, Elite Women, U-23, and Junior Men categories will receive automatic selection to the World Cyclocross Championships in St. Wendel, Germany in February 2005. Master 35+ Men will also be ranked. The Michelob Ultra races are part of the Verge NCCS Series, and the Beacon CX and Highland Park races are part of the Verge MACCS series.
For complete U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross details, go to www.usgpcyclocross.com.
U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross P.O. Box 507 Rockland, MA 02370
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