Tale of the Tape
Height: Not too tall? He's 17, so he's probably still growing
Weight: The right amount, apparently. He's a climber on the road so do the math.
Hometown: Bremerton, Washington, USA
Pedigree: Good enough. Western Washington isn't Boulder or Santa Barbara, but his dad Steve was a racer and Owen got off to an early start as a result. He's ridden several Euro Cross Camps with USA Cycling, and has spent much of this season hitting the big European junior races.
How's He Doing?
Nary a bump in the road. He was second in Zolder, third in Pilzen, fourth in Rome and 5th in Tabor. He also won against a thinner field in Namur -- minus Mathieu van der Poel, the reigning world champ. Oh, and he socked away another national junior title ten days ago in Madison. That's eight titles in a row, dating back to 2005.
How's the Course for Him?
Probably a good one for him, if my hunch about the weather is right. Not surprisingly for a Seattle kid (who also has tremendous power), he likes the mud. If this week's rain doesn't drain quickly enough, it will be this weekend's mud. That plus he'll have the home crowd on his side. He knows this and is as fired up as you can imagine.
The Case Against Owen
To put it briefly, it's Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutch kid won every world cup event, and every Superprestige event as well. Obviously the shoe is on the other foot for once, as far as the travel factor is concerned. But if van der Poel is at his best, the evidence says he's the clear favorite to win.
Owen is a pretty decent roadie as well. He won the KOM competition at Ster van Zuid Limburg this past summer, a title once won by... Stijn Devolder. Owen says his biggest dream in cycling is to ride the Tour de France. So his cross future may be cut short if his road credentials are anything like his dirt ones.