Elle Anderson (California Giant-Specialized) currently sits at the top of the US Pro CX standings after a strong early season campaign, which includes victories at both days of the Trek CXC Cup and Gran Prix of Gloucester. Despite her early season dominance, the big question was how she would fare against top professionals like Katie Compton (Trek Cyclo-cross Collective) and Katerina Nash (Luna), neither of whom raced in September. Anderson quieted her critics in early October with second place finish on the first day of racing at the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival, a UCI C1 race. Her podium spot, between Nash and Compton, proved she was ready to be in the mix with the big kids.
"It feels like a dream sometimes, I just need to pinch myself," said Anderson about sharing the stage with Compton and Nash. "These are women I've really looked up to in the sport for all the years that I've been in cyclo-cross and climbing up the ranks. It's just and honor to be in the mix, to see what they are doing, see their lines, follow their wheels, and see their tactics."
Anderson suffered through her first rough patch of the year recently at Colorado’s UCI race weekend. On the first day of racing at the Colorado Cross Classic, Anderson suffered a starting line mechanical, and despite racing from dead last, she fought her way back into seventh place. Her problems continued the next day at the Boulder Cup when Anderson washed out in one of the dusty corners and didn't finish the race.
After the race Anderson was disappointed, but kept but kept her recent run of luck in perspective. "I had a fun race on Saturday despite the odds," said Anderson. "I had a little bit of bad luck, and it resulted in not my best weekend, but I still went out there and had some fun."
Like several notable cyclists, such as Julie Furtado, and Allison Powers, Anderson came to cycling from alpine skiing where she competed in super-G and downhill. Her athletic talent was evident at a young age when in high school she attended Vermont's Burke Mt. Academy, a prep school that specializes in producing Olympic caliber skiers. Anderson's skiing career was interrupted by two ACL injuries, and while attending Dartmouth she started cycling. It was at Dartmouth that Anderson met her coach, Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching, and quickly excelled on the collegiate racing circuit.
Anderson's breakthrough came in 2010 when she placed fifth in the Division 2 Collegiate National Championship Omnium. Her performance earned her a spot on the Nature Valley Collegiate All-Star team, and she credits that program for opening her eyes to what professional racing was all about. "I remember getting to the end, and finishing the last stage, and just being totally humbled," said Anderson. "I got that glimpse of what the next level was, and I knew I loved it, and just wanted to get more of that level of racing."
After finishing university, Anderson relocated to California in 2012 to work at Strava's San Francisco headquarters. Brought on as in intern while attending Dartmouth, Strava has enabled her to have a flexible three-day a week schedule during the cyclo-cross season. While a full time job means Anderson must turn down the occasional opportunity, like racing for the US national team at the Spring Classics, she embraces the lifestyle required to juggle a career and elite racing.
Anderson's focus for the season is clearly focused on cyclo-cross nationals, but she is considering a short European campaign during the Belgian Christmas week. "It's a dream of mine to race in Europe," said Anderson. "I've heard so much about the courses and racing over in Europe, it's the natural next step to really challenge myself, and see what it's like in the heart of cyclo-cross."
While several of Anderson’s Cal-Giant teammates are tackling the early season World Cups in Valkenberg and Tabor, she is using the time at home to get in a mid-season block of training in northern California. Anderson will return to action the first week of November, when she is scheduled to race a slate of midwestern events including the Cincy3 Cyclo-cross Festival, The Derby City Cup, and Iowa’s famed Jingle Cross.
"It's definitely a long season," said Anderson. "I know that there is a lot of racing ahead of me, but I'm just excited to keep the momentum going."