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On a tough course in Koksijde, Belgium, only one American, Ryan Trebon, survived the blazing speed to finish on the same lap as the winner of the Cyclocross World Championships. He finished in 18th place.
“I never go in to be the top American. I want us all to be in the top 15 because it makes what we do in the US look better. I always want us all to do well not just myself.”
A smiling Trebon added, “I wish I would have made about ten less mistakes and I think I could have been in that top 15 area. I raced.” Where were those mistakes? “Everywhere, mostly in the sand.”
The pace was fast from the start and Trebon was right in the thick of it. “I had enough fitness and room to come through, but I didn’t want to hit that first dune first and mess everybody up.”
And then, eventual winner Niels Albert of Belgium upped it with the rest of the Belgian team behind him. The field was struggling to hang on as best they could. The race at Koksijde is all about the sand dunes, long stretches of never flat deep sand, keeping many of the riders off-kilter. Trebon along with Team USA teammate Jonathan Page were together in a second group and tried to ride smoothly.
“I moved up a bit and then dropped down 20 seconds. I think me and Page are the only two that have the most experience in these races. Being comfortable and I don’t go into the sand sections thinking oh I’m going to screw this up, I go into them and I think it’s fun. I was trying hard but I just dig racing out here, it’s cool.”
The pace never let up with the Belgian team putting in a time-trial at the front. “These guys were moving.” Trebon said. “We were going down the opposite way down Herygers, every lap, it was maybe 10, 20 seconds faster.”
Throughout it all, the tall rider was having fun, in a brutal sort of way. “The first weekend you get there (Europe), you’re okay and you can race well, you’re just tired but the second weekend, all the lack of sleep and stuff catches up to you. Last weekend, I was so shit but I knew that I had good fitness, it’s just you need to get recovered. I finally had some good training this week. I love out here, this is my favorite place to race.”
Trebon is sticking around in Belgium to do a few more races.
Tough day. All the other Americans and the lone Canadian were pulled by cautious, or maybe over-eager, officials who were enforcing the 80% rule.
“That’s not unexpected.” Tim Johnson said of the American results. “This course is so specialized is really having a skill or not, it’s not like we all kind share the same level of ability and then it’s a question of fitness and tactics, it’s a whole different ballgame.”
Johnson placed 34th. “I would consider this a non-result.” he said philosophically after the race.
After a bad start, US Cross Champion Jeremy Powers was all the way back to 44th spot after the first lap. Though he was moving up, he was pulled and placed 26th. Chris Jones finished 43rd. Feeling sick, Page did not finish the race.
Not satisfied. Jamey Driscoll‘s race started “mediocre”.
“I think we had a tailwind on the start stretch because that was the fastest freaking start, I was like ‘I’m in my 11 already and I’m spun out and I’m getting dropped’. And then, I went okay until the first long sand section and somebody hate crap and then I T-boned them and got my bike all tangled up with them. So I didn’t look behind me but I was probably pretty darned close to last and by that time, the trickle down. So you can ride every single thing when you’re alone.”
“Not that satisfied.” said Driscoll about 42nd place result. “I was decently satisfied with how I was riding and I think I was picking people off and about getting pulled, two minutes, two and a half minutes before Niels came by, it’s disappointing but 38th vs 43rd doesn’t make much of a difference. I just wish that that would happen for bigger decent size races in the US. when I’m on the receiving end.”
He concluded, “But other than that, I knew the sand was going to be craziness, I wish it didn’t end the way it did, had a better, cleaner race but it’s bike racing, just another day.”
Better than World Cup. Lone Canadian Craig Richey was also pulled early and placed 51st. “It was definitely better than the World Cup. I had improved a bit on the sand, having done a few days of practice and stuff but was you see with the Belgians dominating here, it is somewhat of a specialist’s course. And they have more experience than anyone else in the sand.”
Richey was also subject to bad luck at the start. “A Spanish rider broke his chain and me and another dude ran over his bike, we bunny-hopped his bike. The start was chaos and I cannot believe those other guys were going that fast. I felt that I was going quick and was losing a minute a lap. That’s insane. It was so fast.”
“And then I got pulled pretty quick and I’d just caught a group of five guys, and I was maybe 10, 15 meters behind and they ran out and stopped me. I had to slam on my brakes, they generally intend to enforce the 80% rule generously with foreigners. So that kind of sucks, I would have liked to have done another lap.” Richey added.