***Watch the World Cyclocross Championships live this weekend on Cycling.TV or on demand at UniversalSports.com!***
PEZ: You’ve been over in the flat lands for a few weeks now, Jeremy?
Jeremy: Yes, since before Christmas, I’ve ridden seven or eight races; my best showings were at Middelkerke and Loenhout, I was in the front group there but lost contact.
PEZ: How’s the form?
Jeremy: I was down in Spain and did some hard training, intervals, top end stuff – maybe I over did it, I’ve been feeling a little low, but I think I’m where I want to be now. Cross training is all about full on effort or resting, there’s nothing in between. You ride two races each weekend and you have to be sharp physically and mentally. Cross is all about ‘snap,’ riding behind the motor bike is an ideal part of your training.
Jeremy Powers has had a break-out season. He’ll be going to Worlds this weekend with some reasonable goals though – a top 20.
PEZ: Would you consider ‘going Euro’ full time, next year?
Jeremy: No, I couldn’t be happier with Cyclocrossworld and Cannondale, they’re great sponsors and I wouldn’t want to change. And besides, I like the direction that US ‘Cross is going in.
PEZ: How’s morale in the US team?
Jeremy: It’s good, we’re all excited about riding, the US national coaches are here now and I think we have a good chance of podiums in the junior and women’s events (yes, that’s a hefty nod to one of the favorites in the Women’s race: Katie Compton).
Lars Boom will have homefield advantage, plus some former success on the Hoogerheide course going for him.
PEZ: Have you checked out the Hoogerheide parcours yet?
Jeremy: It’s the same course they’ve used for three or four years; I’ve ridden it before in World Cups and always had solid results there. It’s an amazing course, there’s everything – it’s very twisty with stairs, hard sand, a treacherous descent, hard and fast grass, a long road straight, even a fly-over!
PEZ: The start will be even more crazy than usual, with so much at stake.
Jeremy: Absolutely! It’s a long, straight with cemented cobbles, then a sharp left hander at the end – which is very dangerous!
Niels Albert and Lars Boom will wage many battles in the future, but for the time being, there’s still that pesky older generation to deal with: Nys, Wellens, Vervecken, et al.
PEZ: What rubber will you be running?
Jeremy: Dugaste tubulars; if it’s quick I’ll be on Typhoons, they’re a faster tyre and don’t sling as much mud onto the bike, but if it’s muddy it’ll be the Rhinos, which aren’t as fast but give the grip – either way they’ll be 32 mm section
Nys has won everything absolutely everything at least once. Well, everything except Elite Worlds: one win.
PEZ: Let’s talk names – Nys?
Jeremy: Hugely talented and experienced; a real pro – he never says anything ‘off the cuff,’ doesn’t criticise other riders or loose his temper and is real business man on the bike.
It’s a rare occasion when rooting for Sven Nys is seen as pulling for the underdog. The World Championships is that rare occasion.
PEZ: Will he win, though?
Jeremy: Sven and Lars Boom are the two guys who have been most open about the fact that they want to win, but the Dutchman is my favourite; he’s young and has a lot to prove. The Belgian fans give him a really hard time and I think he’ll be out to show his home fans what he can do.
Nys and Boom have done a fair bit of duelling this season – Nys came out on top last weekend in Italy.
PEZ: How about Bart Wellens?
Jeremy: I don’t think so, he’s recently become a father and I think it’s changed his life; he hasn’t been the real ‘punish everybody’ Bart he’s capable of being.
Wellens hasn’t been sterling this year, but the new father still has two World Championships under his belt and can never be discounted.
PEZ: Erwin Vervecken?
Jeremy: You never know with him, he just never gets nervous – he’s always the same, but I don’t see him taking the title.
Speaking of never discounted: the three-time World Champion Erwin Vervecken is the ‘cross equivalent to Oscar Freire.
Looking for credentials? Erwin Vervecken first made an appearance on the Worlds podium in 1994 – Lars Boom had just turned 8.
PEZ: Niels Albert?
Jeremy: He came back from injury really well after a great start to the season, a podium maybe, but not the win.
Niels Albert started the season immensely strong, but missed almost two months with a ruptured spleen. He’s back though and looks to be almost at full capacity.
PEZ: Zdenek Stybar?
Jeremy: Again, a podium is possible, but he’s been good all season and I wonder if he can lift it for that day?
Zdenek Stybar has had a solid run of it and has even taken some bites out of the Cannibal – at Loenhout for example.
Jeremy: On the podium, none!
PEZ: And Jeremy Powers?
Jeremy: I’d like to be in the front group – however many that may be; top 20 would be good.
Jeremy and Ed are united in their belief that the big Boom will once again stand atop the highest step. I disagree. How can you NOT pick someone whose nickname is the Cannibal?
PEZ: Give us your podium, please.
Jeremy: Boom first, Nys second, with Alberts and Stybar fighting for the bronze.
I sure hope he’s right – I got two beers resting on the big boy from Rabobank!
And good luck to PEZ’s “man in the mud,” Jeremy Powers. To follow Jeremy a little closer, check out his blog over at Missing Saddle.
Want to take a closer look at the circuit? Check out the official website for this weekend’s Cross Worlds – HERE!!
The weather looks clear and just above freezing for the weekend…so don’t hold your breath on any mud baths.
Fun fact of the day – straight from PodiumCafe member Lopex:
Zdenek Stybar is from the Czech town called Stribro, which means Silver in English. Stybar asked some friends in the local town hall whether the name could not be changed into Gold. Ten days ago, the Czech living in Belgium received good news. On the day of the World Cup the village will be renamed gold : Zlaty.