The world cup races at Jingle Cross are sandwiched between two days of amateur and UCI cyclocross racing. I personally look forward to Friday nights racing under the lights to see pro’s scrap for points, and to get a chance to take some dramatic photographs that are only possible at night. The racing was exciting, and the thin crowds made me wonder if an enthusiastic crowd would turn out for the big show on Saturday.
I crawled out of my sleeping bag at 7 am Saturday, and woke to a cold, damp foggy morning that clearly had the feeling of a Belgium winter day.
By noon, with the wind starting to pick up, the pro’s were out taking their last look at today’s course, and slowly the crowds were starting to grow.
Just east of the start line, where the pro’s set up camp for the weekend, the team mechanics were busy washing, lubing and polishing their stable of two wheeled machines. The excitement was starting to grow, and the atmosphere was charged with an electric feeling.
There’s a lot of terrain to cover at the Johnson county fairgrounds, and if you want to get a shot of the start, you’ve got to really hustle to make it through the metal barricades to get to the top of Krumpit on the first lap. I elected to find a perch that looked down on the fly over instead, hoping that Toon would catch some huge air. Gambles don’t always pay off, and two minutes into the race, Van Aert the current World Champ comes over the flyover in sixth place.
Everyone’s stretched out single file coming down the front side of Mt. Krumpit.
Toon and Aerts start putting time on the rest of the field and don’t give anyone else a chance to fight for first place the rest of the day.
And the view from the side.
Adding in a few more off camber turns on the bottom half of Krumpit was popular with the crowd.
Two laps to go, and thirty seconds down, Van Aert doesn’t show any sign of giving up.
One lap to go, three minutes and 41 seconds behind Toon and the crowd is roaring!
Act II, Save The Best for Last
The women started their warm up rituals well over four hours ahead of their race time. While they were out inspecting the course and making last minute adjustments, the skies were steel grey and the traction out on course was improving with each lap the men made.
While the men’s podium ceremonies were finishing up, spectators started pulling out rain jackets and running for cover. In the half hour between races, enough rain fell to pull out the mud tires. Marianne Vos and Eva Lechner made a fast start and they looked like they might just run away from the rest of the field.
The slip ‘n slide like conditions on course made it equally hard for spectators to walk up Mt. Krumpit. One mistake in these conditions and you would loose places, and possibly a podium spot.
When you couldn’t physically see the race in front of you, fans were glued to the big screens watching the thrilling action play out.
Course conditions fell apart really fast. What appeared to be a one - two knock out punch by Voss and Lechner turned into a race of you can win if you’ve got guts, courage and you don’t make a mistake.
The off camber turns on Mt. Krumpit were nearly impossible to ride. Here, Sanne Cant is glued to the back wheel of Katie Compton as she tries to navigate through ankle deep muck.
Katerina Nash powers up Mt. Krumpet in the rain. The UCI has improved on pay equity at the top of the heap, and the women surely deserve it based on Saturdays stellar performance.
Kaitlin Keough, Wisconsin native wins her first world cup race!
Tending to protocal, it’s a ritual for the UCI officials to cut off your race number as soon as you cross the line, completely spent or not.