By Laura Weislo
Racers praying for wet, muddy and technically challenging conditions at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships in Kansas City, Missouri might be disappointed this year. With relatively warm temperatures and no major precipitation in the forecast, the course may end up being harder and faster than last year.
"We had a little bit of ice and snow that have made the course a bit wet," said organiser Bill Marshall on Wednesday, "but by Sunday it could be 60 degrees [F], and all the racing leading up to then should actually dry the course out." However, the first two days of racing should provide plenty of opportunity for getting dirty as the accumulated snow melts.
But this is the midwestern US, an area well known for its unpredictable conditions and the forecast changed overnight to colder temperatures and a possibility of sleet or snow. Still, warm overnight temperatures could dry the course out.
For Sunday's elite men's race, a hard, fast course could play into the hands of the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld duo of reigning champion Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers, who neutralized 2007 champion Ryan Trebon in similar conditions at the USGP Portland Cup last Saturday.
After taking home the USGP series title last Sunday, Johnson said defending his US championship title is going to be difficult. "I have to try and have the race of the season there and see if I can defend my title. It's gonna be brutal. Ryan had a great race and he showed he's on form, he showed he can ride in the mud, he showed he can fly - he's one of the best riders in the world, and so is Todd [Wells]. So when Jonathan [Page] comes over, Jeremy and I are going to have a big fight on our hands."