Jonathan Page On Belgium's Most Wonderful Week In Cross

The Last Ride Of Jonathan Page

Jonathan Page is a four time national cyclocross champion and silver medalist at the cyclocross world championships. For the majority of his cyclocross career, Page lived and raced in Belgium. He retired from elite level racing at U.S. nationals in January of 2018.

The famous Christmas week series in Belgium is many things for racers and sponsors alike.

The series — which runs annually from roughly December 22 to January 1, and is comprised of DVV Trofee, Superprestige, Sudal, and Brico Cross series races — carries financial, contractual, and fitness implications. (Watch the entire Christmas series live on FloBikes.)

In Europe, contracts are ended, renewed, or made on January 1. So Christmas week is a potential money-maker, a chance to show off your good form and skills — if you have them.

It's also a fitness test in the last weeks leading up to nationals, a chance to gain fitness, or lose it if you don't do it right. For Americans, Christmas week is a chance to get in a lot of racing in in one short trip to Europe.

But the Christmas week has its downsides, too. At least, it always did for me, as an American abroad with a family.


Most years, my wife flew home with my kids to have a real Christmas with family before heading back to spend Christmas day with me; this was after they moved the Superprestige race in Diegem from December 25 to 26.

For the Belgian racers and fans, the Christmas week of cyclocross racing works out great and truly becomes “the most wonderful time of the year.” 

Kids are done with the first big testing period at school and have a nice stress-free break. Most companies give their employees some time off in preparation for their big holiday — the New Year. 

Christmas is celebrated in Belgium, but not like it in the States, and not like the Belgians celebrate the first of January.

The Christmas series is certainly a bright spot in the long dark winter for the millions of cross-loving Belgian fans. As a racer, it was always fun to be a part of the celebration. 

However, as an American living and racing in Belgium full-time, it was always hard to both race my best and have a real Christmas celebration for the kids.

For racers, the week is definitely a difficult one mentally and physically.

Superprestige Diegem

It's tough to duke it out day-after-day at the highest level. And then when you get home, you've still got hours of cleanup and bike work to do just to be ready for the next day. You’re doing all this while the rest of Belgium is partying, eating, going out, and having a good time.

Most years, my family and American friends were busy celebrating together back in the U.S.

It's a sacrifice. It takes a big commitment from not just the racers, but their families, friends, and those that help in the pits and behind the scenes. I was lucky to have a supportive family and a lifelong friend as my mechanic, Franky Van Haesebroucke. He and I had a great time! It's tiring but rewarding and fun, too.

Different racers have different strategies when it comes to taking on so many races in such a short amount of time.

Some use it as a training block, a rehearsal for nationals and worlds. Others need results for UCI points or to get a contract, so they’re hoping for good results. In that situation, the racer will either target certain races or, if they feel Supermanish, they'll go for the win or podium in all of the races in the series.

Superprestige Diegem

Every racer has a plan in place going into the week. The plan may need to change, but in theory they know what they are there to do. Some racers need a big break before the series begins and afterward. Others don't.

For me, it was about balance. I made sure I got to spend some time with my family when they got back from America and still had school holidays, stayed healthy, and tried to make money without killing myself with an overload of races. I would aim to get great results at as many races as I felt I could, while still being able to achieve decent results at the other races for which I had start contracts.

There's a fine line between too much and just enough. I did it the same each year and always had fairly good success both during the series and afterward at nationals and worlds. If I ever had to do the series again, I'd do it exactly the same way. I still have all my calendars, hand-written, in my folder. 

But to be honest, I don't plan on ever doing it again. These days, I much prefer to enjoy the holiday season with friends and family and talk with my friend and mechanic about how much fun we had, and how the hell we ever pulled that series off year after year.


By Jonathan Page

Wout Van Aert Wins Wind Whipped Stage 10

Dutch rookie Wout van Aert won stage 10 of the Tour de France on Monday as Julian Alaphilippe extended his overall lead after a blistering late charge split the peloton.

Impey Takes Stage 9 As Bardet Goes On The Attack

South African Daryl Impey won stage nine of the Tour de France on Sunday, leaving local fans to settle for Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe keeping hold of the yellow jersey on Bastille Day.

De Gendt Stuns On Stage 8, Alaphalippe Retakes Yellow

Thomas De Gendt won Saturday's Tour de France eighth stage with a solo breakaway as home hero Julian Alaphilippe thrillingly won back the yellow jersey on the eve of the Bastille Day national holiday.

Tejay Van Garderen Abandones Tour With Broken Hand

American Tejay Van Garderen, who crashed on stage 7 and broke a bone in his left hand, has dropped out of the Tour de France, his team, Education First, said.

Groenewegen Gets Tour de France Stage 7 Over Ewan, Sagan

Dutch speed king Dylan Groenewegen edged an ultra-tight bunch sprint on stage seven of the Tour de France on Friday as Italy's Giulio Ciccone retained the overall race lead.

Giulio Ciccone Renews Contract With Trek-Segafredo

Trek-Segafredo announced that young Italian climber Giulio Ciccone has prolonged his contract through 2021. 

Dylan Teuns Takes Stage 6 As Ciccone Grabs Yellow

Defending Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas defied his doubters Thursday as Belgian Dylan Teuns won stage six and his breakaway partner Giulio Ciccone snatched the yellow jersey by just a few seconds on an iconic mountain stage.

Sagan Gets His Win In Tour's Stage 5

Slovakia's Peter Sagan kept enough strength in reserve in the hills of Alsace to win a reduced bunch sprint for his 12th overall Tour de France stage win on Wednesday.

Elia Viviani Storms To Stage 7 Sprint Win

Italy's Elia Viviani was too fast for any of the other top speedsters in a classic 70kph (44mph) bunch sprint at the end of the fourth stage of the Tour de France in Nancy on Tuesday.

Alaphalippe Wins Stage 3, Takes Yellow

Julian Alaphilippe produced a magnificent show of power in stage three on Monday to give France its first win and take the overall lead in the 2019 Tour de France.