This weekend cyclo-cross racing returns to the world stage from the US. FloBikes will broadcast two full days of races from Castle Rock, Colorado for the US Open of Cyclocross.
The Women’s Open race will begin at 10:40 am, with the field led by 15-time US Cyclo-cross National Champion Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek/Knight). The Men’s Open contest will begin at 12:20 pm and feature Eric Brunner (Blue Stages Racing), the 2019 Under-23 Men’s Cyclo-cross national champion.
Typically Compton would be in Europe by this time of the season with a full slate of World Cup and Superprestiges to set up rankings for the World Championships in February. Brunner would be travelling across the US to compete in C1 and C2 events.
The topsy-turvy year of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has ground to a halt all 33 professional cyclo-cross events that were part of USA Cycling’s ProCX calendar, including two Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup events hosted in Iowa and Wisconsin. Also gone are the US Cyclocross Nationals, which were rescheduled twice, originally set for DuPage County, Illinois and then in Iowa City, Iowa, complete cancelled in late summer due to the continued impacts of the pandemic.
However, local cyclo-cross events that cater to smaller audiences and fields of competitors are still happening in the US. The US Open of Cyclocross had been on the ProCX circuit, but organisers shifted it focus as a local event, now managed by the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado.
“Once races started getting cancelled and moved around, I realized I wasn’t going to be racing too much so I started looking into some local events I could do. I need some sort of racing for ‘cross prep since I have trouble doing proper training without pinning a number on,” Compton told Cyclingnews from her home in Colorado Spring. “So I was looking at other ways to get in ‘cross training and racing – just to get that solid race effort in, that I don’t get on my own.
“I was pleasantly surprised to see that ‘we actually have racing.’ There were local races to do so I decided to just do some local races and have fun with it, work on my race fitness, work on some skills, and make sure the bikes are dialed in.
“So if, and when, we go to Europe, I’ll at least have some racing in my legs. It’s not World Cup racing, but it’s about the race effort and going hard, and being technically smooth.”
Compton raced three events in Colorado in October, winning all three. The first one was Death Bowl Cyclocross Series in Louisville, Colo. She was so impressed with the implementation of coronavirus safety measures that were implemented in multiple areas of the event.
“It looked like a safe event. They always have good riders showing up, so I know it’s going to be competitive regardless,” she said. “They had it set up with a red course and a blue course that were separate but raced at the same time so more riders could be on the course while still staying distanced.
“I think it was such a well-run, safe event, I’m thinking, OK. The fields are small, the course is split, we’re really not around that many people, they did temperature testing before you pick up your number. And everyone was social distancing and wearing masks, so it actually felt really safe.”
Two weeks later in Broomfield, Colo., Compton competed against a field that resembled the US nationals, with Ellen Noble, Madi Munro, and Kaitie Keough raising the stakes. Some of these athletes are expected to travel to Europe soon and will not be at the US Open, but Compton is excited to race close to home, and have the races streamed.
“It should be a good race. We’ve got some good competition. We raced in the frozen snow and cold [Oct 24],” Compton said about the Castle Rock venue. “I think that was a similar course to this weekend. They were setting up cameras to prepare for this weekend. It was good to see the cameras and also learning they plan to live stream the race on FloBikes. We don’t have a lot of CX racing to watch right now so every little bit is something to look forward to.”
Live coverage of the US Open of Cyclocross will begin at 9 am MDT and include 27 categorised races on November 7. The coverage is available to FloBikes subscribers worldwide.
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