The front row of the elite men's race, based on UCI points, featured five Belgians, two Dutch riders, and one American, Jeremy Powers.
  • Robert

    As an American, it’s time for some tough love…American cyclists are soft. They are coddled from a very early age. They ride inside when the weather is anything but ideal. They complain about how difficult things are, and have an excuse for EVERYTHING. They are showered with medals and trophies for almost anything. There are American riders with the talent to compete, but without the mental toughness, they’re pack filler.

    • awesometown

      Jesus, stop reading velominati and put down the 60s italian cycling coffee table book.

      Your ideas are totally out-dated and flat out wrong. You ever met or talked to anyone on a domestic pro team? Talk about a total lack of pampering! That is unless you count make 15k and living out of vans pampering.

      If anything we need MORE science, better development programs and more forethought from people that don’t think like you.

      • Robert

        I race and know a lot of kids who race. I don’t read velominati, whatever that is. Yes, I have met and talked to-and am friends with-people on domestic pro teams.

        You miss my point, or are not able to understand it. The problem is not with current domestic pros. It is with the 10 year old future/potential domestic pros. Through no fault of their own, really.

        Oh, and how many domestic pros making 15K a year aren’t supported by their parents?

    • DangerDirte

      When Jeremy Powers was doing Behind the Barriers there was an interesting episode where Powers was pretty upset after a race. He was talking about redlining it in some start sprint and some Belgian hard-ass stared him down, mouth closed, breathing through his nose. Said Belgian then proceeded to drop Powers like it was nothing. I believe the episode aired the season before Powers dropped road to focus only on cross.

      As a viewer, I had the sense I just witnessed a Golden Retriever who just had the shit kicked out of him by a pack Pitbulls.

      Since then Powers has developed a bit of mongrel (as you Aussies say) and it’s been interesting watching him be far more aggressive in his home races: less about getting into the rhythm and more about strapping on some steel toed boots. That Belgian wanted to mess with Power’s head and it worked.

      Either way, it’s interesting how things are shaping up.

      • nancy

        Jeremy got almost barriers at the start of the last World cup and he missed his pedals at worlds. He is getting a ton of respect in US and essentially a lot less challenging racing in the US. He could afford making mistake in US while it is much harder to come back in Belgium. Based on his video and interview, he doesn’t look to enjoy so much racing in Belgium.

  • Peter Odegaard

    This article could benefit from a bit more research and high level look at organized youth sport in the US. This background dovetails nicely into the first comment from Robert. American youth cyclists get a ton of support, infrastructure, and pressure to perform. Translating this into a successful ‘pro’ career is much more difficult. Researching and citing the Matt Kelly and Devo team example would give some nice context to the situation. Kelly won cross worlds and a bunch of MTB races and was heralded by Velonews as a future star only to burn out on cycling shortly after exiting the JR ranks. Making the transition from being a JR with a ton of support competing against a limited talent pool to making a living in Cycling is a really hard life.

  • George Hayduke

    Here are my observations:

    Most cyclocross courses in the US just aren’t difficult enough; the venues usually must accommodate Junior U-12 all the way through Masters 65+ and a “real” course would probably kill the lesser experienced. Furthermore, finding race venues large enough to make a Euro-style course are rare and most owners of the locations are very uptight about damage to the grounds, so no mud or gnarly run ups really.

    But the biggest part is youth talent just hasn’t had the time to develop. To get world class good at the sport, someone has to start racing at like 8 to 10 and usually peak around 25, meaning we’d need a solid 15 years for the first wave of really good riders to come through. That assumes the best/most talented even found the sport and stuck with it to that level. For the guys and gals crushing it now, they come from a way smaller talent pool than we have now, so in five to ten years it will be a way different story.

    It’s really just a numbers game–it’s like asking “Why aren’t there more Aussies playing professional MLB/NFL in the States?” Numbers and talent identification, it just isn’t really there for cycling in the US.

  • nathan ong

    IMHO, americans need to spend time and commit to a full european season instead of beating up the domestic scene here. Riding sand boxes here a converted baseball field is very different than zonhoven. Powers has made a slow transition to the euro scene, first racing on the road, then not racing on the road in the US, however still wants to go between continents. I could be wrong in hearing, but i remember a BTB where he said he’s hesitant to do more euro races because of life commitments (family stuff). Cliffs Notes, americans should be trying to race in europe for a whole campaign. Only then do i think they will race at the high level and adapt to the harsher features of the european scene.

  • Peter Pan

    Everyone in cyclocross should be thanking Femke for the publicity, because 1 day after the worlds every January, no one gives a toss about cross. If you’re good enough to win at cyclocross internationally, don’t waste your time, go to the road and see how far you can go.

  • touristeroutier

    A few things; Stybar wasn’t forced to make a decision between CX & road, he chose to pursue a road career, leaving behind a financially lucrative CX career. Sometimes you just want to pursue other aspirations. His profile was high enough and his potential netted him a very good contract on the road.

    There are very few options for US domestic CX pros. Very few in the domestic elite field are truly professional (making their living exclusively or primarily from CX). There are many more opportunities on the road, since road is truly global, and CX is not. There are more teams, more races, a longer season, etc.

    A top Euro based CX racer, even without a team, can make a decent living, due to appearance fees and prize money. But it is only the very top riders that truly thrive. Many are just journeymen. For the women, it can be much more lucrative than on the road; Helen Wyman has stated so in several interviews. It isn’t that the CX pay is that grand; it just really sucks on the road, with the exception of very few (like Vos).

    One should not overestimate the support level provided by Euro CX teams they are mostly the functional equivalent of continental road teams (as opposed to Pro-Conti or WorldTour) Yes, riders may have mechanics and runners, but frequently they are privately contracted or family. Many riders on these teams get kit, equipment, and some logistical help, but not much more. The development and women’s squads are often an after thought.

    In order to succeed in CX, for the moment, one needs to spend as much
    time racing in Europe as possible. The competition is at a much higher
    level, and as others have stated, the courses are different. However,
    it is very hard to immerse oneself in a different culture, with a
    questionable support network while at the same time getting the snot
    beat out of you race after race. Jonathon Page was pretty much the only US male to do it long term, he built a life there, with his wife and kids. This is probably a primary reason why he could pull out results, when other riders, presumably with more raw talent have not, but even he had to go it alone, and not ride for a Euro team. Amy D started down this path, but it tragically came to a premature end. Jeremy Powers is trying to find the balance that works best for him.

    CX is a great sport, but the opportunities are limited. But one needs to start somewhere…


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