After completing an eleven hour plane flight Rick and I landed in Louisville KY. With snow falling from the sky, the smell of European embrofication was in the air! Upon arriving in Louisville, we had come to find out that the Ohio river started to crest its banks and flood the course. Due to the flooding all races were packed into Saturday, which made for a long cold day with temperatures in the low to mid 20’s.
The day began at 9:45AM with the juniors race. The Dutch and Belgians dominated the race, with local racer Logan Owen pulling out a top 5 after a slow start.
Next, came the women’s elite race. With snow still falling, the women had a hectic start with a big pile up after the lights flashed green. The Americans had a better showing in the women’s race with Katie F’ing Compton taking 2nd place. The women’s podium looked like this, Dutch (Marianne Vos again!), USA and France. Luckily, we stayed at the same hotel the French team was staying at and got to eat breakfast with Luci Chainel-Lefvre the 3rd place finisher!
As temperatures still hovered around 25 degrees and snow in the air, the course was becoming more and more muddy as U23 race began. For the U23 we stood in the pit area to view the race. With the roar of power washers in our ears and a whistle blowing when each rider entered the pit, it made me feel like I was at a true European cross race! The riders started to pit every half lap because the mud was starting to get sticky. When the green lights flashed, the Dutch and Belgians were off to a quick start leaving everyone else behind. Zach McDonald struggled to dial in the course, but slowly made progress towards the front of a sloppy, cold race. By the end of the race my toes were freezing and the temps were dropping. With time running out the Americans could not keep pace with the Euro’s and ended up with out a medal.
With two hours to kill, water rising and cold feet, I headed towards the Bell tent that had a big propane heater to help defrost me as I waited for the elite men’s race. Before the race started I was able to catch J. Pow! gave him a high five and wish him good luck before his race! (Awsome!)
Finally, the time of day we had all been waiting for, the elite men’s race! I was standing at the bottom of the “Pit of Despair,” a nasty off camber, slippery, muddy, down hill that lead into180 degree turn that then went straight back up the hill, with hundreds of cross-rabid fans packing the course, drinking beer, singing strange songs and drinking beer. It was only a matter of minutes until they flew down the hill for their first lap around the course.
Flying down the hill at break neck speed in the lead was Francis Mourey from France, followed by a train of light blue jersey’s of the Belgium’s. With one leg kicked straight out for balance, one by one they slung themselves around the muddy 180 degree turn. Some were graceful and some were not, like Ryan “Tree Farm” Trebon from the US. Trebon took a nasty fall by going over the bars and driving himself into the orange metal fencing. At the same time his bike jumps into the crowd! As each lap passed the course became muddier and muddier. Slowly Sven Nys,Klaas Vantornout and Lars Van Der Haar pulled away from the rest of the field. The Americans did all they could to hold on to a mid twenties finish for most of them. On the final lap Klaas Vantornout caught his pedal on the fencing which gave Sven Nys a distinct gap heading into the finish and turning onto the pavement with 200 meters to go Sven started his sprint to become the first person to ever win a world title for cyclocross in the United States!