The afterglow from the US Cyclocross National Championships continues to warm my soul, as temps here in Boston and elsewhere around the US continue to dip. For the past week, I’ve been trying to unpack exactly why, and I think I’ve come up with a succinct enough answer: Nats in Asheville was precisely the experience that top ‘crossers in the US deserve. The hype around the event is absolutely justified—the venue amenities were top notch, the whole parking/admission price ‘issues’ foreseen simply weren’t, and the course was phenomenal. At best, US cross racers will typically encounter a World Cup feature on their otherwise domestic course. No. Not here. Course designer Tim Hopkin crafted absolutely a World Cup-level course, packed with off-cambers, climbing, as well as sick descending. Even the weather cooperated perfectly – dumping just enough rain on course the night before, staying cold and dry all day, and developing into light flurries during the culminating Elite Men’s race. For a racer or fan in attendance, I don’t think one could have asked for better.
However, since returning home I’ve noticed that ‘cross fans outside of the immediate Nats echo-chamber (and maybe even you, reader) were perhaps let down by the viewing experience. It’s no secret that the live-feed of the event was, well, less than ideal, and may have left a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of some viewers. And that’s quite unfortunate, as the races themselves were simply awesome. To echo Bill’s sentiments from the latest Crosshairs Radio, and in my own opinion after a brief chat with the USA Cycling media coordinator, the live-feed production had to overcome a few setbacks and was absolutely the best available given the circumstances. As they say, “that’s bike racing.”
By now, I’ll assume that you know the general narrative of how each race played out, but I’ll add a little here and there so we’re all on the same page. So, if you were lucky enough to be there, let’s relive the magic one last time. If you were watching a live stream like many visitors here, let’s look at a side of the races that the panning and zooming of the live stream may have missed. Because the season really deserves to go out on a proper mic-drop, and not an audio dropout.
A huge thank you to Bill for the continued opportunity to contribute my work to the site, as well as to the rest of the CXHairs team for producing fantastic content all season. Enjoy, and see you next season!
THE COURSE: Lots of slick mud over most of the day. Lots of up. Lots of down. Lots and lots of off-camber.
WOMEN’S U23: As one might expect, Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) came away with the win after riding a beautiful race. However, the expected duel between Noble and Emma White (Cannondale CyclocrossWorld Devo) never quite materialized, with the usually powerful White losing time on this technically heavy course and finishing in 3rd. Surprisingly, Sofia Gomez Villafane (Fort Lewis College) rode a very smooth race and was able to claim 2nd.
MEN’s U23: Tobin Ortenblad (California Giant Cycling) bested the arguable race favorite Curtis White (Cannondale CyclocrossWorld) for first, with White settling for second after struggling on certain parts of the course. Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cycle Sport/YogaGlo) rounded out the podium for 3rd.
WOMEN’S ELITE: Katie Compton (Trek Factory Racing) took home an extraordinary 12th (twelfth!) national championship, ahead of Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) in 2nd and Katie Antonneau (Cannondale CyclocrossWorld) in 3rd. Compton and Gould zipped to an early and would trade time at the front, while Antonneau would time-trial alone. For the last lap, Compton simply rode away from Gould to secure the win and prove once again she is the most dominant ‘crosser on US soil.
MEN’S ELITE: No surprise here – Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) crushed the competition to claim a 4th national championship, ahead of Stephen Hyde (Cannondale CyclocrossWorld) in 2nd, and Logan Owen (California Giant Cycling, opting to race elites rather than U23) in 3rd. Powers advanced to the front quickly and stayed at or near the front for much of the race, before upping the pace and riding away over the last lap.
[Editor’s Note: Thanks for a great season, John! Everybody reading, make sure to check out www.johnkavouris.com. Especially during July and the Tour de France.]