The 2013 World Military Cycling Championships (CISM) were hosted by Belgium, 2-6 Sep, with the road races in Leopoldsburg and the mountain bike races held in Beringen. This was the first time ever that World Military Championships were offered for women and also a first for mountain biking. Ten countries participated in CISM Cycling 2013. The road races were held on a flat but very technical course, typical of Belgian racing in the Limburg region. The mountain bike races were on a world-class course that had been used for the Belgian National Championships just a few weeks prior.
In the women’s 72km road race, the Belgians pushed the pace early and broke the race into two groups. The race ended in a field sprint with Pascale Jeuland (pro – 4-time national champion and 1-time world champion) of France claiming the first-ever women’s Military World Championship title. The podium was completed by Christine Majerus (pro – 11-time national champion and 4-time Games of the Small States of Europe champion) of Luxembourg and Maaike Polspoel (pro – 2012 Olympian) from the home team Belgium. Katy Giles (USA-Navy) was fifth place and the only non-pro cyclist of the first seven finishers. Maatje Benassi (USA – Army) finished in ninth position. Giles and Benassi placed high enough individually to be awarded the bronze medal for the women’s road team classification.
The German team was the favorite coming into the men’s road race after sweeping the podium at the previous CISM event in Ireland. The 128km road race was very animated with the very fast pace causing break after break to form. Kurt Page (USA – Army) crashed out of the race early when two riders in front of him went down and he had no option but to crash over the top of them. Team USA was represented by at least one of the remaining five riders in nearly every break. Ian Holt (USA – Air Force) went with a group mid-race that stayed off the front to the finish. Stefan Schaefer (pro – 5-time national champion) of Germany won the field sprint to become the 23rd Military World Road Race Champion with Benoit Sinner (pro) of France second and Slovenian Kristijan Koren (2013 Tour de France finisher for the Cannondale Pro Cycling Team) in third. Holt finished with the first group in 11th, followed by Jay ShalekBriski (USA – Air Force) in 20th, Dwayne Farr (USA – Air Force) - 23rd, Scott Giles (USA – Navy) – 32nd, and Andy Chocha (USA – Air Force) – 41st. Team USA finished 6th in the team classification.
The first-ever Women’s Mountain Bike Military World Championship was won by Helen Grobert of Germany followed by Sabrina Enaux, France, and German Lena Putz in the bronze position. All three race on the World Cup circuit. Team USA had no athletes entered in this event.
The first-ever Men’s Mountain Bike Military World Championship was held in temperatures exceeding 90 degrees on a very technical world-class course over an hour and a half. The first four places were claimed by riders who race on the World Cup circuit. The first Mountain Bike Military World Champion is Jeff Luyten of Belgium! Simon Stiejahn of Germany raced to silver and bronze went to Ruben Scheire of Belgium. Team USA placed 9th and 10th with David Flaten (USA – Air Force) and Charles Jenkins (USA – Navy). Together, these two earned 5th place in the team classification.
Team director George Ganoung had this to say, “Overall I was very proud of the team’s performance. We had a relatively inexperienced team, with only 2 out of our 10 riders having been at CISM before. Racing in Europe is different than the US, and there is a pretty steep learning curve especially at this level of competition. They all listened and executed well, but I feel they have the ability to aspire for more if they continue to focus and work at the skills required to compete against this level of competition. They should all be proud of the effort they put in, but they should set the bar higher for next time and expect even more from themselves in the future.”
There is still an outside possibility that a host country will step up to organize a 2014 World Cycling Championship. If not, the next confirmed CISM cycling competition will be the 2015 World Military Games, hosted by South Korea.
U.S. Armed Forces Cycling athletes:
SGT Maatje Benassi (Army) – women’s road
MSgt Andy Chocha (Air Force) – men’s road
SSgt Dwayne Farr (Air Force) – men’s road
SrA Dave Flaten (Air Force) – men’s mountain bike
LCDR Katy Giles (Navy) – women’s road
CDR Scott Giles (Navy) - men’s road
Capt Ian Holt (Air Force) – men’s road
AWSI Chuck Jenkins (Navy) - men’s mountain bike
MAJ Kurt Page (Army) – men’s road
1st Lt Jay ShalekBriski (Air Force) – men’s road
U.S. Armed Forces Cycling Staff:
Chief of Mission: Lt Col Nathan Tarkowski
CISM Sport Committee (Cycling): Ms Debra Ponzio
Director: Mr, George Ganoung
Mechanic: Mr. Chris Moore
Medical: CDR Sean Easley (Navy)