USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships 2018 - Preview

Watch live streaming on Sunday, January 14 on Cyclingnews

The 2018 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships will take place from January 9-14 in Reno, Nevada. Katie Compton (Trek), who has won 13 consecutive times, will go for a record 14th victory on Sunday. Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) is the defending champion in the elite men's race and will look to add a repeat victory to his resume.

Watch live streaming of Sunday's events here on Cyclingnews, beginning with the junior men's race at 9:00 a.m. local time. That will be followed by the under-23 women at 10:00 a.m. and under-23 men at 11:30 a.m. The marquee events will be held in the afternoon with the elite women at 1:15 p.m. and the elite men at 3:00 p.m.

The Venue – Rancho San Rafael Park

Don't expect severe weather for the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships this weekend. In fact, bring your sunscreen.

The event will take place in the west coast mountain town of Reno, Nevada, an altitude of 1,500m, and noted as having more than 300 days of sunshine each year. It is expected to be dry this weekend and there will be milder weather conditions than what most cyclo-cross racers are used to in January.

In short, the conditions could make for dry and therefore fast cyclo-cross racing.

The race will be held at the Rancho San Rafael Park on a technical 3.4km course. It begins with a set of concrete steps followed by a sandpit and then a set of railroad-tie stairs all in the first half of the circuit. The challenges continue with a set of barriers, and back-to-back run-ups before the less-technical race to the finish line.

There are sections of reprieve on course with a lengthy downhill section and long stretches, particularly in the last half of the circuit before the finish.

It will be the last time the championship event is held in January, as it will next move to a December 2018 spot on the calendar held in Louisville. There will therefore be two national championship events this year.

Compton goes for 14

Compton will be a tough rider to beat even with a strong elite women's field set to toe the start line. She has had a successful European campaign with a focus on the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee series, where she won the opener in Ronse and then took second in the Oudenaarde round. She was third at Flandriancross, behind runner-up American Ellen Noble, third in Essen, second in Antwerp, third in Loenhout and won in Baal. She is currently leading the series ahead of the last race in Lille in February.

Her UCI World Cup campaign started slower in the US. In Europe, she was fifth in Koksijde, and although sickness prevented her from starting the fourth round of the series in Bogense, she bounced back to place third in Zeven. She went on to take fourth in Namur and most recently second at Heusden-Zolder. Despite a strong season, she is ranked fifth in the world.

There is one American sitting just head in second place - Katie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), who will be going for her first elite women's national title on Sunday. She had a stronger start than Compton to her World Cup campaign placing second in both Waterloo and Iowa City. She was then eighth in Koksjide, third in Bognese, 11th in Zeven and sixth in Namur. She will be Compton's toughest rival in Reno.

Ellen Noble (Aspire) is further down in the world ranking in 15th overall. Second in the under-23 women's world championship last year, she is in the running for a top place in the elite women's nationals. Her best place on the World Cup this season was third in Waterloo, and she has had a string of top 10s. She had a thrilling race in Hamme that saw world champion Sanne Cant win, while Noble out-sprinted Compton for second. As one of the top cyclo-cross racers in the world, Noble has a good shot at the national champion's jersey.

Strong competition will also come from Crystal Anthony and Courtney McFadden, Rebecca Fahringer, Arley Kemmerer and Sunny Gilbert. Notable riders in the under-23 women’s field are Emma White, Clara Honsinger, Hannah Arensman, Katie Clouse and Emma Swartz

Notably absent from the elite women’s field is Elle Andersen, who is based overseas.

Katherine Compton (USA) KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knighttakes the win for the Pan Am Championship.

Can anyone match Hyde?

Hyde will be the rider to beat in the elite men's race. He has spent a large part of the season overseas competing in the UCI World Cup and other high-level races, giving him the most experience and fitness coming into the championship event.

He is currently the top American in the world ranking, in 12th place, behind the likes of Belgian stars Wout Van Aert and Kevin Pauwels, and Dutchmen Mathieu van der Poel and Lars van der Haar. His ranking comes thanks to consistently racing the series at Waterloo, Iowa City, Bogense, Namur and Heusden-Zolder.

In the US, Hyde opened the season with wins in Rochester and Cincinnati, third at Charm City and fourth at KMC Cross Fest. He had a string of wins on the C2 circuit at Derby City Cup and Harbin Park International. He also won the title at the Pan-American Continental Championships.

Next inline on the cyclo-cross world ranking is Tobin Ortenblad, fifth last year. He was second at the elite men's Pan-American Continental Championships and has taken the top step of the podium on several occasions this year at C1 races; Ruts 'n' Guts Day 1, Charm City and KMC Cross Fest. He has also been the most consistent winner in the C2-level events with eight victories this season. He will most likely be Hyde's biggest rival on Sunday.

Other riders to watch James Driscoll, second to Hyde at last year’s championships and Kerry Werner, who was third last year, along with Jack Kisseberth and Curtis White.

Rider of note, who have struggled this year are Jeremy Powers, a four-time champion, who was diagnosed with a cardiac arrhythmia but he is registered to race, and Jonathan Page, another four-time winner, who will retire from the sport following the national championships.

Top under-23 riders will once again be Lance Haidet and Gage Hetch, who placed first and second, respectively last year.

US Champion Stephen Hyde at Azencross
 

USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships live streaming schedule

9:00 AM: (PST) Junior Men 17-18, 40 min
10:00 AM: U23 Women (17-22), 40 min
11:30 AM: U23 Men, 50 min
1:15 PM: Elite Women, 50 min
3:00 PM: Elite Men, 60 min

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