Two-time cyclocross World Champion Bart Wellens will begin his 2011 cyclocross season in the U.S. by racing the opening two rounds of the new Cross After Dark national cyclocross series. Wellens and his Telenet Fidea teammate Rob Peeters, both of Belgium, will make U.S. cyclocross debuts at Cross After Dark Race 1, CrossVegas on September 14th. The pair will then travel to Seattle on September 18th and 19th for the longstanding UCI Washington State cyclocross weekend at StarCrossed (Cross After Dark Race 2) as well as the Rad Racing GP.
“We are extremely excited to begin our campaign in the U.S.,” said Telenet Fidea manager Hans van Kasteren. “Bart has raced road on the east coast of the U.S. with Timothy Johnson, but looks forward to his U.S. cyclocross debut on the West Coast.”
Top European cyclocross racers such as Erwin Vervecken, Francis Mourey, Helen Wyman, and Christian Huele have also raced in the U.S. in recent years, but the Telenet Fidea trip in fall 2011 signals a continued shift in the frequency of top-tiered European competitors traveling to the U.S. to race ‘cross. September is early on the U.S. and European cross calendar, so to see top Belgians traveling so far to compete in some of the strongest U.S. races really speaks to the legitimacy of the U.S. cyclocross scene.
“Traditionally in the U.S., you’ll see top domestic racers travel, vacation, or live in Europe to hone their cross skills against European competition,” said Zac Daab, co-promoter of StarCrossed Cyclocross in Seattle, WA. “This year, Telenet Fidea is heading to the U.S. to string a series of races together for Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters that allow them to gain early season fitness, capture UCI points and test themselves over here before the 2013 Worlds.”
CrossVegas promoter Brook Watts added, “I’ve been preaching the benefits of the early season U.S. races to the Europeans for some time, I think we’re at the tipping point now where they see the value in making a trip over here to compete against our top pros who start the season well prepped.”
New for the 2011 season, the Cross After Dark national cyclocross series connects America’s four premiere nighttime cyclocross races: Cross Vegas, StarCrossed, Gateway Cross Cup, and Spooky Cross. Cross Vegas kicks off the series with its mid-week race during the annual Interbike bicycle trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 14th. StarCrossed celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year at a new venue, PGP Motorsports Park in Kent, Washington on September 17th. The series moves to St. Louis, Missouri for the mid-week Gateway Cross Cup on September 21st, and then concludes on October 15th with a SoCal tradition, Spooky Cross in Irvine, California.