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Interview: Jonathan Page
 
By Vaughn Trevi
Date: 2/5/2009
Interview: Jonathan Page
 

Interview: Jonathan Page
An interview  with one of the best American cyclocross racers and former vice world cyclocross champion Jonathan Page. The Worlds, the 2008 season and more...

Jonathan Page found his first success on the road winning the USA Junior championship in 1994. It wasn't long after that the caught the Cyclocross bug winning  back to back U23 Cyclocross national championships (1996/97); he followed up with  podium performances the next two years at the elite nationals. Jonathan continued to race on road with success with Prime Alliance (2003) and later for Colavita/Sutter Home (2005-6). During the off season he dominated the USA national cyclocross championships for three years running 2003 - 2005.

Page moved to Belgium to devote his time to cyclocross and followed up with a Silver Medal at the 2006 World Ccyclocross championships in Hooglede-Gits, Belgium. It was the first American medal in 58 year history of the worlds; the first of the 5 medals the US would win, the latest, a bronze by Katie Compton this year.

So it's no surprise when the talk turns to winning gold in the discipline Jonathans name is the first to come up among riders and fans in the USA. He is fierce competitor, both a pioneer in the fastest growing segment of the sport here, and the preeminent cyclocross rider in North America racing and turning results in Europe. Jonathan signed with Sunweb Pro Job (Belgium) in 2007 after a turbulent relationship, he  made the switch to his current team Bike Planet in March of  2008.


Jonathan Page in Hoogerheide  Photo © 2009 Bart Hazen

2008 was a rough" year as JP says, haunted by illness, food poisoning in Spain, crashes and mechanicals at races. A disatrous  crash at the Superprestige Cyclocross Diegem  in late December resulting in 3 broken ribs. A missed anti-doping control at Koksijde world cup after a crash that stunned him and broke his bike... which he was later cleared of by CAS.

Through it all Page battled on, the man knows that champions never quit, he will return for the 2009-10 season hopefully graced by a bit better luck in his hunt for a rainbow jersey.
Bart Hazen and Vaughn Trevi.

I take it your showing on Sunday at the worlds  was a result of all the stress and interruption to your preparations. What was the race like for you on Sunday?

Yes, the result was absolutely a reflection of stress. And sickness and injury. To be honest, I didn't think it would be like it was for me. I consider myself a mentally tough person but I really broke down in the race. I wanted to start and finish the thing to thank all the people that worked so hard to get me to the start line.

I didn't have any expectations. But the more I rode, the more I thought and the more I thought the more I couldn't ride. With 2 laps to go, I just wanted to finish and get to my wife and give her a big hug. I heard all the cheering for me and thought of all the messages of support I've gotten. It's the only reason I could finish the last 2 laps. I have never felt so empty in my life.

Will you be racing in any of the final cross races in Europe that end the cross season?

I am finished with the season now. I need to recover physically. I am still fighting a bug I picked up somewhere along the stressful way that has turned into a bronchial and sinus problem. I'm also healing from 4 broken ribs. ( I broke another one in my crash in Roubaix) But mostly I need to heal mentally before I can go on. I'm already feeling the benefits of my break. If I'm allowed, I know I'll be back racing the road soon and the cross this fall!


Jonathan Page at Koksijde World Cup.   Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

First the question most fans will want answered is how is your morale and training going now?

I am finished for the season now. It was really hard. I wanted to train and race but I couldn't concentrate on it at all knowing that each race might be my last. I was really tired and stressed out and all I could think about while training was how I was going to support my family if I had to stop racing.

Have you been notified by USA cycling that you are on the USA team for the worlds?
Yes I was.

It was a difficult time for you and your family since the news about the missed test was announced. How did you get through this?


Through the sand pit in Koksijde, before a crash that injured and stunned him, and broke his bike JP pulled the plug on the race and abandoned. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

We are still getting through it. We've had tough times but this one was the worst. We had a lot of group hugs. Cori and I had a lot of late night discussions. We've made a tentative future plan so that if I ever have to stop racing abruptly, I will have a backup and we won't be on the street so to speak.

I had help from numerous people but mostly 3 lawyers, 1 that I knew a little before this and 2 that I'd never met. They helped me through this out of the goodness of their hearts. They spent hours on the phone comforting us in addition to doing their job. They restored my faith in humankind after I'd lost much of it dealing with this. I also had a lot of support from family and friends and supporters. They e-mailed, wrote on my website, called...it was really important because especially in the hard times, we can feel isolated over here and it's a lonely feeling.


Jonathan Page after the finish Pijnacker World Cup; his face reflects the disappointment of a poorly timed puncture that had him finishing 29th. Photo © 2008 Bart Hazen

How were you informed of the missed test and impending hearing. What was your initial reaction?

I got a registered letter via email on a Thursday night when I had just run into my parents in law's house to print directions to a holiday parade Cori and I were taking the kids to. Initial reaction was confusion. Then panic as we read through the papers on the way to the parade.

How did it feel when you found out that you were cleared of the charges? Any word if the UCI will appeal the decision of CAS? (hoping that is not the case)

I felt happy for a brief moment, but then I quickly remembered that the UCI had the right to appeal and that I could have to go through it all over again. I couldn't even think about that and didn't want to talk about it. By the time I called my wife back in Belgium, I couldn't even manage to be happy about it. I don't know if the UCI will appeal but they still have about 3 weeks to do it.


What are your thoughts on remedies on informing riders that they are to have doping test so what happened to you is less likely to happen to others in the future?

I have a few good ideas and have been given good ideas by others as well. First, I'm hoping to get riders together to discuss this. Maybe even more good ideas will come of it.

The most simple idea has come from my wife and would prevent what happened to me from happening to anyone else I think. She suggests telling the riders at the start instead of at the finish. Then, putting brightly colored water park style bracelets on both their wrists over their uniforms. That way when they go to shower, they can't forget to go, even if they've crashed badly or have just forgotten due to another reason, because they have to cut the bands off to get the uniform off! They can then go right to doping control instead of having to wait until the last lap to see if they are on the list. In addition, the brightly colored bracelets would alert others who would remind them to go. Also, there can be a big board at the start/finish line with the names and numbers rather than a small sheet of paper on the finish line.

After your second place at the Worlds in Hooglede-Gits in 2006, you had a tough year in 2007. did the poor relations with Sun web contribute to this? Do you have an explanation for that?

I had some good results, a few podiums in Europe, which I always feel proud of, but it was nowhere near my potential. Yes, the bad relations had much to do with it. It was again a season filled with stress. It was slightly lower level stress for the most part, than the stress of the past 2 months, but it lasted longer and effected our whole family just the same.


Off to a good start at the first world cup in Kalmthout Page was taken out in a crash losing his position at the front of the race, he fought on in pain for two laps before abandoning the race.

You left Sunweb Pro Job and signed with Bike Planet in late March 2008... are you more comfortable with the team?

Comfortable is an understatement! Planet Bike is the opposite of Sunweb. They are the most supportive, genuinely nice people you'll ever meet. At a time when it would have been easy to drop me, they've instead signed me for another season, and pledged to support me from the 1st moment when I had to let him know about the missed test fiasco. It's safe to say that without Planet Bike, I'd be back in the USA right now, looking for a job and trying to start a new life.


Jonathan Page (3rd Planet Bike) USA Nationals
Photo © 2008 Daniel Elavsky

You started your career on the road taking the novice ('92) and junior('94) and USA road titles and then caught the Cyclocross bug in to win back to back U23 Cyclocross national championships (1996/97) You podium'ed at first in the elite cyclocross nationals and then dominated the national championships for three yeas running 2003 - 2005.

During some of this time you signed and raced with Prime alliance, in Europe with CCC - Polsat (Poland) and later Colavita/Sutter home and had success again on the road. Do you have unfinished business on the road, will we see you racing road this year?

I like to race on the road but it's difficult to race at a top level in both disciplines. Cross is my passion and is the best suited to the "keep the family together" life that my wife and I are trying to lead for my kids. I liked racing on Colavita because my long time mentor and friend was the manager. I like racing for the amateur team I've been on for the last 2 summers because they are good guys on the team and I don't have to kill myself racing a million days in a row. You will see me on the road this season if I'm allowed to race.

What drew you to Cyclocross? What skills or natural talents are needed to do well in cyclocross?

I was just doing it in the beginning as cross training for the road. But I have good balance and technical skills. I can often ride things that most people can't. It was entertaining so I stuck with it and was doing ok at it so I stayed...Then, I wanted to start a family and my wife and I both agreed that when we had kids, I wouldn't leave them for weeks on end and that we'd try to create a supportive atmosphere where everyone supports me in return for me supporting them in their activities and being around to watch them grow up.


Jon on the steps at Hoogerheide.

What are your future plans and Goals?

I want to have a real shot at a season over here. Without major stress, injuries or sickness. I want to see what I can do with that. I want to get on that Worlds podium again. I also want to explore my options for what I can do with myself in the future in bike racing.

When do you leave for Hoogerhiede?
I arrived the day before. It was nice to stay at home and cut the cost of the trip.

You can follow Jonathan at his website: The Jonathan Page
Learn about his Sponsor Planet Bike at: http://www.planetbike.com/page/
JP rides Blue Bikes,

During the cyclocross off season Jonathan races on the road with the Battley Harley Davidson elite amateur team. The team centered in  Washington D.C. races the Mid Atlantic regional races with the goal of nurturing regional talent in support of their goal to become  nationally competitive Cat. 1 and move on to the professional ranks. Team website

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