Clouse upped endurance training for fast, open Cyclo-cross Worlds

Katie Clouse finished in the elite women's top 20 at the Hulst World Cup
Katie Clouse finished in the elite women's top 20 at the Hulst World Cup (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

After a block of racing in Belgium where riders need to withstand repeated accelerations out of corners, US women's under-23 National Champion Katie Clouse has been re-tuning her body for better endurance ahead of the U23 title fight at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas next week.

Courses in Europe are usually filled with tight, tricky turns and sharp climbs but the Worlds course in Centennial Park is wider and has big sweeping bends that will keep riders on the gas for the entire race, making endurance more important.

After the US national team opted to head home after Herentals and Clouse returned a week earlier after the Hulst World Cup, she and coach Jim Lehman added some rest and endurance training.

"I got home about a month before Worlds and took that week easy to get a short break and to recover from Europe," Clouse said in a USA Cycling interview. "Then I ramped up the endurance work because, with all the racing, there wasn't a ton of time to get long rides in."

Speed and intensity followed as the final preparation for Worlds but Clouse thinks that extra base of fitness is going to help.

"Fitness is going to be huge because there's a long climb and a couple of long straights, and even through some of the corners you're still pedaling. It's a lot of long efforts; that's what makes it a hard course, especially if it's muddy," said Clouse, who rides during the winter season for Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.

So far the weather predictions have very little in the way of precipitation before and during Worlds, but Clouse and her teammates were hoping for some mud. In October's World Cup, a major storm dumped massive amounts of rain and made the course much harder than the Europeans expected. US elite women's Champion Clara Honsinger landed on the podium and Clouse finished 18th and was the fifth-best under-23 rider.

"I would love for it to be muddy. I know the Europeans know how to ride in the mud, but on that course, I think it would play into our favor. If it's a fast, dry course it might favor the European girls because they race so much and are used to the speed.

"Mud makes any course more interesting and makes for a better race. If it's muddy, it'll be great for Clara, too."

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