Friday, January 20, 2012

A real Championship, North American style

I was reading through some comments last night about people questioning the validity of the first Masters World Cyclocross Championships held outside of Europe. Many people are questioning if the winners are really "true" world champions. Sure the results were heavy on North American riders but not any more so than if the championships were held in Europe and being heavy with European riders.

Notice that I've broken it down into North American versus European riders. We are in a slightly different situation here as our single country is virtually as big as Europe. You cannot compare the US to Belgium but rather a US State to a European Nation.

Although there was a very poor showing from non-North Americans at this years championships, the results were really on par with what you could probably expect. When you compare the US finishers that competed in both the 2011 and 2012 championship the results aren't far off. In the Masters 40-44 race, Pete Webber, Brandon Dwight and Brian Hludzinski finished 4th, 6th and 16th in 2011; 1st, 2nd and 11th in 2012. In the Masters 45-49 race, Don Myrah finished 12th in 2011 and won in 2012. Erik Tek from Belgium finished 2nd both years. In the Masters 50-54 race, Steve Tilford and Kevin Hines finished 3rd and 6th in 2011; 1st and 2nd in 2012.

Now it's easy to say that just by removing the Europeans from this years race we saw better results from the North Americans. But is it really that simple? Many of us know the difficulty of international travel. You're in a strange environment which makes training difficult. The cuisine can be significantly different which makes nutrition difficult. And then there's the time difference, which can be a major factor when you spend 50% of your trip just trying to adapt your sleep pattern.

We see these issues time and time again. Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters acknowledged it themselves saying they have much more respect for North American riders that go race in Europe. Logistics for cyclocross can be a nightmare when traveling internationally. Wellens and Peeters didn't dominate when they arrived in North America this season. They came over with limited equipment and even had to borrow one of our (Trek Midwest CX) team indoor trainers for warm-ups. They borrowed race wheels from KCCX too. No super posh campers for them when traveling and racing internationally.

This years Masters World Cyclocross Championships was no less a championship than any other year. When you take away the fact that we are Americans and look at what state we hail from, the results look like any European based championship. The level of cyclocross is making leaps and bounds in North America and I think you'll see further leaps made over the next few years. Word on the street is most of the European masters were saving their money this year and planning for 2013 when they can come over and spectate the Elite race as well as race themselves. I guess we'll have an answer to this debate in 12 months time. I for one am saving my money to travel to Europe in 2014.

Sven had the battle of his life to win his rainbow jersey, one of the best races of the weekend. Do you think he thinks he's not a worthy champion?

Don Myrah walked away from the 45-49 field, which included 2011 Silver medalist Erik Tek. No lack of quality in this field.


JonC@Moots said...

Totally agree....our racers deserve those jerseys/medals ....did the trip in 2006 to Mol and you hit the nail on the head....hard to eat, sleep and train, let alone throw down on the Euros at 100%.

See you in Belgium in 2014!


RadRenner said...
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