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A steamy US cross country nationals starts Thursday in Pennsylvania

The 2013 USA Cycling Cross Country National Championships are set to roll from July 18-21 at Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania. The four-day competition will be held in the Eastern time zone for the first time since 2008 at Mount Snow, Vermont.

Three riders who represented the United States at the 2012 London Olympic Games are expected to compete in the Lehigh Valley. Bronze medalist and defending national champion Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) and Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing) highlight the pro women's field stocked with talent.

Among the competitors vying for Gould's national championship are Maureen Bruno-Roy (Cycle Loft Velo), Judy Freeman (Crankbrothers Race Club), Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-Stan's NoTubes), Teal Stetson-Lee (Team Luna Chix) and Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers Race Club).

The men's field is overflowing with top-flight riders poised to unseat Sam Schultz (Trek Factory Racing) as the national champion. Schultz himself will be absent as he continues to heal a back issue.

Schultz's teammate in London at the 2012 Olympic Games, Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Racing), who has collected countless national titles, is in good form after winning the Subaru Cup Pro XCT and short track in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin last weekend. The previous weekend, he won the US marathon national title.

Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale), Michael Broderick (Kenda-Seven-Stan's NoTubes), Carl Decker (Giant Factory OffRoad) and 24-year-old Stephen Ettinger (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team) are some of the racers looking to challenge Wells.

The men's U23 race also boasts a wealth of talent as Russell Finsterwald (Trek Factory Racing) is set to compete against Howard Grotts (Fort Lewis College), Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) and Kerry Werner (BMC U23 Development MTB Team).

A scorcher in the works

Most racers were expecting it to be humid given the time and location of July in Pennsylvania, but the weather is shaping up to bring not only the infamous summertime high humidity of the region, but also high temperatures. The forecast currently calls for temperatures in the low to mid 90s through Saturday - near record temperatures for the area.  The excessive heat could well play a role in the outcome of many races, especially those in the middle of the day.

Course description

The trails at Bear Creek Mountain Resort include 150-year-old mining switchback roads up the mountain. The trails also feature rocky, technical sections which demand as much power, skill and technique on the ascents as on the descents.

The amateur cross country course spans just short of seven miles and includes many of the course features available on the mountain. The pro course includes the mountain's signature feature, a rock drop plus a triple log crossing and a rock jump just before the finish.

For more information on the Bear Creek Mountain Resort course, read this article.


Thursday's racing will feature a mix of amateur cross country and short track races.

The action will heat up on Friday with the U23 men's and women's cross country races on the pro course. The women's U23 race will open the day of racing at 8:30 am while the men's race is slated to begin at 10:30 am. The category 1 juniors women's 15-16 and 17-18 races are scheduled to begin at 8:33 am.

The U23 men's race will be followed by the category 1 juniors men 15-16 and 17-18 starting at 10:33 am. The spectators' focus will shift to the juniors cross country course for six races beginning with the juniors men's and women's 13-14 races beginning at 12:30 pm. The juniors men's and women's 11-12 races will begin at 2 pm. before the juniors men and women 6-10 toe the line at 3:30 pm. Seven groups of masters racers will cap the day's racing with two laps of the amateur cross country course.

More amateur racing kicks off the action Sunday morning before the elite men and women takes to the cross country course. The women's race is slated to begin at 1 pm. while the men's race will start at 3:30 pm.

The event concludes with super D and short track racing on Sunday. The racing begins at 9 am on the super D course. The short track will take center stage in the afternoon with four races spanning 20 minutes plus three laps. The category 1 women's race begins at 1:30 pm before the category 1 juniors men 15-18 is set to begin at 2:15 pm. The penultimate race of the day features the pro women at 3 pm before the pro men cap the day's racing at 3:45 pm.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage from US Cross Country Nationals.

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