The course for the US Cyclo-cross National Championships in Kansas City, Kansas was unveiled this week by the race organisers. The two-mile-long course through Wyandotte County Park was designed to be technically challenging but spectator friendly, according to race director Bill Marshall. The course highlights the park's natural features, incorporating the rolling terrain in the scenic setting of hillside oaks and lakeside sycamore trees.
"We wanted to make the course very hard," Marshall said. "Cyclo-cross is tough, no matter what. Our intention was to make this course both technical and fast." The signature element is a pair of back-to-back stair sections, each 40-feet in length, that come about a quarter-mile from the finish line.
"You'll run up the first set of stairs, get back on your bike for a brief time, then dismount and run up the second set," Marshall said. "This is going to be crucial as we found out in Providence last year at nationals. They had two run-ups close to the finish and it makes it very interesting if it is a tight race."
Another critical element of the course design was to make it as spectator-friendly as possible, Marshall said. Nearly the entire course is viewable from several vantage points. A barrier section, positioned between a pair of heated spectator tents, will also be a prime viewing spot.
An open start/finish will allow riders to battle for position before they hit the slower, tricky parts of the course, including some hills that could be decisive if the weather is bad. "This course has some decent hills - not the steep ones like you saw in Providence for nationals last year - but ones that are going to be tough in all conditions," Marshall said. "They're long uphills so if it's icy, they'll be particularly treacherous. If it's dry, the course will be rippin' fast."
Racers will also have to negotiate a section of the course that passes close to a pond - one that was covered in ice when four-time national cyclo-cross champion Steve Tilford crashed into it during a race last year. Incredibly, Tilford recovered from the frigid plunge to come back and win.
"We're officially labeling that pond as the 'No Tilly Zone' this year to recognize that feat," Marshall said.
Racers will have the unique opportunity to preview the national championship course on Sunday, Oct. 28 at the Boulevard Cup. For more information regarding this race, go to www.kcbike.com.
There is no admission fee for the U.S. Cyclocross National Championships. Parking is also free, but only in designated areas. There is no fee for pit access. Official race apparel is on sale through the event's official website, www.kccrossnationals.com.