The USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships take place this weekend in Bend, Oregon's Old Mill District on December 10-13 with more than 1,600 riders slated for over 2,000 starts, highlighted by Sunday's elite men's and women's championships.
Bend local Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA), the defending elite men's national champion, will be racing in front of a partisan crowd and is a heavy favourite to take the stars-and-stripes jersey for a third time in his career. Trebon's season has been marred with injury, but the 28-year-old has four UCI wins this 'cross season and claimed the series title in the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP).
Trebon will have his work cut out for him on Sunday, however, with three other former elite national champions on the start grid. Jonathan Page (Planet Bike), winner of three consecutive national titles from 2002 to 2004, returns to the United States with his eyes on a fourth elite championship after spending the bulk of his 'cross season based in Belgium. The 33-year-old arrives in Bend fresh off a top-10 finish in the latest World Cup round in Igorre, Spain and is the highest ranked American, in 14th place, on the UCI 'cross standings. Page won two UCI events in the US early in his season prior to crossing the pond to Europe and will certainly be a factor on Sunday, particularly if the expected inclement weather on Sunday comes to fruition.
Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) arrives at 'cross nationals after a dominating US season. Johnson won 10 UCI 'cross races and took the overall title in the North American Cyclo-cross Trophy. Like Trebon, Johnson will be seeking his third elite men's title on Sunday and the tough New Englander will not be fazed by the mixture of snow and rain likely to blanket the venue for the title race.
Todd Wells (Specialized) has had a light schedule this 'cross season, but the Durango resident comes into Bend, Oregon on fantastic form. Wells has won four of the last five races he's entered, including a clean sweep of the three Jingle Cross Rock events in Iowa plus a victory at last weekend's penultimate round of the USGP in Portland, Oregon. Wells, too, will seek his third US elite national title to go along with the championships earned in 2001 and 2005.
Accompanying Johnson in Bend are his two teammates, Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll, each of whom are also capable of bringing home the national title for the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com squad. Powers has won nine UCI 'cross events this season, most recently the final round of the USGP in Portland last weekend, and leads the US Cyclo-cross National Racing Calendar heading into Sunday's championship, the final event on the calendar.
Driscoll, a revelation of last year's elite national championships when he earned a silver medal behind Trebon, has likewise had a stellar season beginning with his victory in CrossVegas as well as a win in November's Cycle-Smart International. While Driscoll hasn't been the prolific winner like his teammates, the former U23 'cross champion has always been in the mix with 14 podium appearances this season and perhaps can claim his first elite championship on Sunday.
Other riders who should factor into Sunday's elite championship include Adam Craig (Giant), Jesse Anthony (Jamis) and Christopher Jones (Champion System).
All eyes on Compton
While the men's event sports a wide-open field with a bevy of potential winners, the elite women's championship has one clear-cut favourite who is likely to solo away to a record sixth consecutive stars-and-stripes jersey: Katie Compton (Planet Bike). Compton has been the best woman's 'cross racer in the world this season and tops both the UCI rankings and World Cup standings. The 31-year-old has been undefeated on American soil this season and has won two of three UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup events in Europe. Barring a serious crash or mechanical incident Compton should once again sport the stars-and-stripes jersey.
Two of the riders who provided Compton with the stiffest challenge in US races will not be in Bend to contest the women's elite championship. Katerina Nash (Luna) finished runner-up to Compton three times early this season, but is a Czech citizen and not eligible to compete. Nash's teammate Georgia Gould, runner-up to Compton in last year's national championship, has also been a strong competitor with two UCI victories and eight additional podium appearances in her season palmares, but Gould has ended her season and will not be in Bend for Sunday's championship.
Looking to challenge Compton on Sunday will be Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles) who leads the US Cyclo-cross National Racing Calendar standings and has four UCI victories this season. Olympic mountain biker Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven Cycles) is the highest ranked American after Compton on the UCI standings in 17th place. McConneloug has seven victories this season and recently wrapped up the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series.
Six-time national 'cross champion Alison Dunlap (Luna) has come out of retirement and seeks to de-throne Compton in her quest to equal Dunlap's tally of stars-and-stripes jerseys.
Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale), Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes), Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), Amy Dombroski (Primus Mootry-Schlamm) and Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycles) should all be factors on Sunday in their quest to challenge Compton's supremacy.
Cyclo-cross action kicks of Thursday morning with B-category races and master events. The juniors, more masters and singlespeeders get their turn on Friday, with the elite men and women, under 23, oldest junior men and collegiate racers on deck for the weekend.
Several special events will be run in conjunction with the nationals including Blow Out Bash on Friday. The event's official party will begin at 6:00 p.m. local time at the Midtown Music Hall located at 51 NW Greenwood Avenue and is free for all. Festivities will include live entertainment, giveaways, bike art and more.
USA Cycling will also offer four free educational seminars in conjunction with the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships. The sessions are open to anyone, and USA Cycling certified coaches will earn 0.1 CEU for each session attended. Each session will take place next to REI and will last about an hour. Topics include Training and Racing Cyclo-cross, Junior and U23 Cyclo-cross Development, Women in Cyclo-cross and Build on ‘Cross Fitness for the 2010 season.