I guess you can consider this a scoop…but the reality is ‘cross is such a small world that even the Atlantic Ocean itself isn’t big enough for crossers like me in the US to understand what our friends in Za Motherland are up to these days. And what one of them is up to is ground breaking as far as I am concerned for our sport.
Ben Berden will be coming to race in the United States exclusively this fall. Ben has made some sorties in the U.S. in the past (Cross Vegas as an example) but now he’ll be coming to pin on numbers in the USGP and other UCI races from coast to coast for a full fall schedule.
Ben has an interesting past. His palmares is a long and storied one. A true child of Belgium from Limburg where they drop the n’s off the end of words (say: Erwin Verveck-e and Ben Berd-e) just as fast as their riders drop the rest of the international peloton in ‘cross races. I have nearly 300 bootlegged ‘cross DVD’s from way back in the day and I studied Ben, almost fanatically. He is a classic diesel with hands on hoods, butt in saddle, powering incessantly…except when he takes his hands are off the bar to clear North American riders who are getting lapped. Ahem…
In one of my favorite books,Van Thys Tot Nys (see picture left), you can get an expose of how Ben grew through the ranks, with victories in the Beloften (‘Beloft-e’) or U23 class in 1996. He sky-rocketed from there with an onslaught of victories that was truly remarkable.
Ben also has a past that involved PED’s which may have attributed to some of that sky-rocketing success. He was busted for EPO use in 2005 and served his suspension. He returned to racing two years later with a new attitude…and a boat load of new tattoos.
Ben will be riding for a Oregon-based bike manufacture Stoemper Bicycles this fall, a company we all know little about, the stealth company that they are! The more I learn, I’ll report. Maybe we can get Ben out for a Wednesday Worlds on his trip through Boulder…
Stoemper Photo by Chris Milliman