The Belgians were praying for rain and boy did it get it for Sunday’s race in Sun Prairie, WI. The day started off with rain and more rain turning the Sun Planet Bike Cup course in a mudfest and then the sky opened again just as the men’s 60-minute race started. And Belgian Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea) was in his element. Though he had what he called a bad two first laps, the two-times former World Champion not only rebounded but soloed away from everyone to claim the win and take over the USGP lead. And he did it all on only one bike because his pit bike didn’t have the right mud tires.
Behind him, it became quickly a two-man battle for second place between two Americans Jonathan Page (Planet Bike Cup) and Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt), each one riding different sections better. On the final lap, Page took a clean bike the first time through the pit while Trebon didn’t stop taking the front but then he bobbled on the bottom section before the runup and that was enough for Page to came around him and take second. Trebon was third and had to relinquish the USGP lead.
The field quickly exploded after Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea) took the holeshot. The young Belgian came to the front, setting a fast tempo which has the field single-filed until the mud got the best of almost everyone and he got a gap. Behind him, the chase shuffled and re-shuffled down to a handful by the time they came off the runup to the tricky off-camber section. The chase group led by Page included teammates Christian Heule, Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Geoff Kabush (Rocky Mountain-Maxxis) Trebon, Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Wellens at the back. Then, Johnson slipped and hit the ground hard, unluckily on a big stone taking him out of the race.
With four laps to go, Wellens who was feeling better had bridged up to Peeters and the two were off the front together. Behind, Trebon and Heule were chasing together while Driscoll and Powers had fallen behind. Another lap later and Wellens was off solo, giving a clinic on how to race in the mud, keeping an even but fast tempo, running when necessary and never making any major mistakes. At that point, Page had caught back on to Trebon and the two would battle it off until the finish.
Another battle in the race was for the U23 classification. USGP U23 leader Yannick Eckmann (Pearl Izumi) was in the top 20 a couple of laps in but strong mudder Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) was closing in fast. With two laps to go, McDonald had managed to pass Eckmann and would hold him off by a slim one second by the finish line. Cody Kaiser (CalGiant) took third in the U23 race within a race.
Though Wellens now leads the USGP, he will not be competing in the US again this year so the jersey is up for grabs with Trebon in second.
Bart Wellens (Telenet-Fidea). “It was too much rain. I was sitting in the hotel, I wanted to go for a ride this morning but I stayed inside because it was too much. I waited, I waited and just two hours before the start, just did one lap and yeah the wheels. What we brought here are not the good wheels, so we got wheels from Bill, the guy who won yesterday in the Masters so thank you because otherwise I can’t start. I did the whole race with one bike because my second bike was not the good wheels so I just did it one bike. No bike changes today because I was so afraid to take the other bike, and lost time and when I had no problems with my bike I don’t change.”
About being off the front with Rob Peeters. “In the beginning I was not so good, I was with Ryan. I think we had together a bad feeling in the first two laps so when we came in the front, I take the lead together with Rob and I thought we could make the gap with us two but I think Rob was going too fast in the first two laps, and then he had one bad lap. Danny, our coach, was screaming to me ‘just go one tempo’. The feeling after yesterday was not very well because I was a little bit tired in my legs because of the running yesterday, because it was so fast so I just go one tempo and the tempo was high enough to beat them.”
Jonathan Page (Planet Bike). “I was laughing this morning when it was really really raining and then, I was thinking that these guys (the Belgians) are going to have a fun time and I was right.”
About the final lap. “I switched to a new bike with good tires on it, I gapped him because I could go faster than him in the corners with the new bike that I had. I wanted to keep him within range, either he was going to screw up or I was going to screw up, luckily it was him.
About the battle with Trebon. “It was good racing, it was fun. We were all riding, going ‘aaaah’, battling it out. It was fun because he was better in some places and I was better in others.”
Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt). “Yesterday was super tactical, twice as fast. Today, got a rough start there, coming around eighth, tenth and it took me awhile to get used to riding in the mud again. This is pretty much the first muddy race of the year for most of us. It was hard, it’s a really slick course and both these guys are a little bit better bike handers than I am so I was trying to make it up with fitness but towards the end of the race Wellens was just riding away from us and I made a small mistake and Page got me. It was a good race out there and I’m just happy to finish on the podium again.”
About racing in the mud. “You never forget how (to race in the mud) but sometimes you’re just a little bit rusty, re-learn to let it slide around. It was good. When I pre-rode before the women’s race it was just kind of heavy and then it dried up and got greasier and greasier and a lot heavier. It was a good race out there.”
Rob Peeters (Telenet-Fidea). “I want to win yesterday the holeshot but I missed my first pedal, it didn’t click in so I wanted to win it today. When you have the holeshot you must do the rest of the lap, try to ride as hard as you can and try and see if you can get a gap. So I went but I couldn’t not hold it, I had one or two very bad laps and missed also the podium.”
Did you brake before the holeshot? “No I didn’t use the brakes, I think I went 40 45 kmh, I just used no brakes.”
Top 10 Results
1. Bart Wellens (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) 59:42
2. Jonathan Page (Planet Bike/Blue Bicycles) +00:15
3. Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt) +00:27
4. Rob Peeters (Telenet Fidea Cycling Team) +00:49
5. Christian Heule (Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.com) +01:01
6. James Driscoll (Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld.com) +01:45
7. Ben Berden (Ops Ale – Stoemper) +02:25
8. Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis / Rocky Mountain) +02:32
9. Jeremy Powers (Rapha/Focus) +02:51
10. Troy Wells (Team CLIF BAR) +03:01