The Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross will wrap up this weekend with the Rad Cup in Lakewood, Washington and the Scion Stumptown Cup in Portland, Oregon. Famous for its wet weather, the pacific northwest will present riders with courses that will favor the 'mudders'. The weather this week has been especially wet, and more rain is in the forecast for the weekend.
Heading into the finale, Ryan Trebon (Kona) is leading the men's series, having won three of the four races so far. Trebon can't let his guard down, as he leads Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) by only 30 points. Trebon’s Kona teammate Barry Wicks is also within striking distance only 40 points back. ProTour rider Chris Horner will be in attendance, and is schedule to lead out the kid’s race along with the Kona team. Horner, who found mud to his advantage at last weekend's Highland Park race, said "What it boils down to is that there is a very small speed you can ride through [the] corners at because of the rain and mud, and the rest of the time you are converting back to power... So the wet conditions evened out the race for me... and let my power play a bigger role."
On the women’s side it’s an even closer race. Series leader Georgia Gould (Luna) holds a mere four point advantage over Canadian national and USGP defending champion Lyne Bessette (Cyclocrossworld.com). Gould’s teammate Katerina Nash sits in third, and team tactics will likely come into play in this weekend's races. Katie Compton (Spike) showed that the mud doesn't slow her down at last year's national championships, but having missed the first two USGP races, is 64 points in arrears, and will have a difficult time contending for the series crown. But as was demonstrated in Colorado, her mere presence will be a big factor in the women's series outcome.
The first race of the weekend, the Rad Cup presented by Seasoned Skewers in Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, Washington has been a mainstay of Seattle's cyclo-crossscene for 15 years. The course has a good bit of pavement, with a long start/finish paved section where wind can be a factor, and sandy soil, so mud may not be as much of a factor on this course. "The recent rains have not damaged the race course; it’s in great shape," said promoter Jim Brown.
Cyclo-cross is hugely popular with spectators in the pacific northwest, and the promoters have responded. "We have made some changes to the course make it more challenging and spectator friendly. We have top notch race day food from our sponsor Seasoned Skewers, a beer tent right on the course, music at the top of the Kona "Knapp Time" run-up and even Roller Derby Podium girls. It’s going to be a fun day with great racing action." The host club, Cascade Bicycle Club will also host a kid’s race and a "Skillz and Thillz Zone" mountain bike course for all kids in attendance.
The final race, the Scion Stumptown Cup, will be held in Portland, Oregon's Lakewood course. Promoter Brad Ross, is confident that, while the course is holding up, it’s going to get messy. "With all of the rain that we've gotten in Portland over the last two weeks, I can promise you this will be that muddiest USGP of the year... although several long pavement sections and a concrete stair run-up will give riders a chance to shake off the clumps." In the evening following the race, organizers are throwing a party to present awards for the Cross Crusade Series and USGP champs.
For more information on the 2006 Crank Brothers US Gran Prix of Cyclo-crossplease visit www.usgpcyclo-cross.com.