The Big Picture: 2017 U.S. Cyclocross Nationals (Elite Men)
With a course full of icy ruts formed by days of racing, dozens of dicey corners and descents topped with a fresh blanket of snow, all bets were off for the Men’s Elite Cylocross National Championship in Hartford. It was anyone’s race and early on it looked like any pre-race predictions might be tossed aside. After leading up the Bonk Breaker Hill climb on the first lap, Stephen Hyde (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld) fell and his bike tumbled down the grade, indicating that even the race favorites would struggle.
For spectators (and photographers) out on course, it was an impressive display of skill and determination. Riders were being tossed from rut to rut, making it difficult to keep momentum and put down power. Racers’ abilities to fight frustration were a major factor and as was fight the fear of catastrophic mechanical failure.
In the end, many of the top-ranked riders held on for high finishes, with the notable exception of reigning champ Jeremy Powers. Some rising stars also made their mark, including Jack Kisserberth (JAM Fund/NCC) in fourth and Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz Factory Racing) in fifth.