UCI racing begins this weekend at Rochester Cyclocross [formerly know as Ellison Park Cyclocross]. Not only has the name been updated, but also organizers have moved the event to Genesee Valley Park as it outgrew the old venue.
The race began in 2008 as an amateur event, but rapidly expanded when it became a two-day UCI event in 2010. In 2014 it was elevated to UCI-1 status, which made it even more of a draw for international racers. This weekend's UCI-1 race will be the only race in the world with that ranking, and only the second UCI-1 race on this season's international calendar.
Caroline Mani (Raleigh Clement) who swept the weekend in 2014, will again be attending the event. She is currently ranked second in the world, finished second at the World Championships in Zolder, Belgium; and won the 2015 USA Cycling Pro-CX calendar.
Mani commented, "I loved the old course but this year is a new venue, and apparently less climbing. I m a bit disappointed. It was a great, and hard race. It was also perfect preparation for some hilly World Cups races like Valkenburg."
When asked about her season's goals, she replied, "My goals are not totally set, but I want to keep my national title, make more podiums at World Cups, and go for the world title…not an easy task."
Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) split wins at last year's event with now-retired Meredith Miller. Antonneau, is currently ranked tenth in the world, and is the most likely heir apparent to Katie Compton's (Trek-Panache) legacy in the USA.
She weighed in on this year's event, "I'm eager to see the new venue that the Rochester crew has in store for us. I read the course description and it sounds like it has a bit of everything!"
Antonneau added, "This is the first UCI race of the season, and this weekend will kick off a busy month of cyclocross racing in the United States. I expect that everyone will bring their "A" game to the starting line."
Three other American women who are ranked top twenty in the world will be also be fighting for results this weekend. They include Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-Yogaglo), Crystal Anthony (Maxxis-Shimano), and Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing).
Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing), currently ranked eighth in the world, will be looking to add to his list of Rochester victories. While is registered for both the UCI-1 and UCI-2 races this weekend, he sometimes opts only to race in the UCI-1 event.
Powers explained, "I intend to do both races this year, but will wait to see how I feel. I always want to do well in the C-1's. But, right now I am under-raced so I would like to race more."
Danny Summerhill (Maxis-Shimano) will be back this year, and will no doubt retain some of his hard earned road racing fitness. In 2014 he battled Powers on Saturday, but had to settle for second place. He then went on to win the event on Sunday when Powers was absent.
Summerhill told Cyclingnews, "It will be my first (cross) race and I'm always looking forward to seeing some familiar faces, Powers included. I actually got to race with him a couple weekends ago at a local criterium in Boulder. He, Alan Krughoff, and a couple other cross racers got to mix it up on the road, which is going to make it that much more fun taking it off-road for the first time this season."
Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), highest placed American male finisher at the Zolder World Championsihps, will be looking to start his season off with a big result in Rochester.
Hyde admitted, "I'm always a bit nervous going into Rochester. It's the first UCI race on US soil and it's where we all get to size each other up for early season form."
Hyde added, "This year the course is different and I think that adds a whole new factor. The course elevation in years past has played favorites with the smaller climbing types. So, it'll be interesting to see how riders fair on the new and unknown course. I can't wait, that's for sure!"
Other contenders include Cameron Dodge, Dan Timmerman (House Industries), Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh Clement), and Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport).
The new 3.5 km course at Genesee Valley Park is grassy, diverse, and has punchy small climbs and descents. It includes some unique wooded sections as well. Each lap of the course has 139 feet of vertical climbing (as opposed to 256 feet at our previous Ellison Park venue).
The racecourse will include 1 man-made barrier, one natural barrier that will force riders to dismount their bikes, multiple run-ups, a "rolling platform", and a "Belgian" staircase.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for race reports, photos, and results from Rochester this coming weekend.