By Peter Hymas
UCI cyclo-cross returns to western North Carolina for the fourth consecutive year at the North Carolina Grand Prix in Hendersonville on Saturday and Sunday, November 22 to 23. UCI C2 events for elite men and women on both days highlight a full schedule of racing at the Jackson Park venue.
Race Director Tim Hopkin, who conveniently also oversees Jackson Park through his employment at the Henderson County Parks and Recreation Department, is looking forward to the crown jewel of the North Carolina Cyclo-cross Series. "There's some big talent coming in this weekend," said Hopkin to Cyclingnews. "Steve Tilford is coming back, there's Jeremiah Bishop plus some riders from Washington, Utah and Colorado. We'll get to see how [local rider] Will Black fairs versus the influx from out-of-state. I'm always impressed how the homegrown riders handle the competition."
In addition to Tilford and Bishop, some cyclo-cross strongmen from the western part of the United States – including Bart Gillespie, Russell Stevenson, Jonathan Baker and Jake Wells – have opted to duel for UCI points in North Carolina instead of at the country's only other UCI races being held further north in Southampton, New York.
While the North Carolina Grand Prix has always had other UCI events on the calendar to potentially draw riders away, Hopkin has been pleased with his event's attendance over the years. "In 2005 there were only competitors within driving distance, but in the last three years we've had riders flying here. Riders have enjoyed the course, have enjoyed coming to the mountains and have spread the word to their friends."
For more information on the North Carolina Grand Prix visit www.nccyclocross.com