She planned to focus on cyclocross this season. So far, that’s playing out perfectly for Marianne Vos (WaowDeals), who won the first round of the ‘cross World Cup Sunday in Waterloo, Wisconsin. American Ellen Noble (Trek) had a career-best second-place finish ahead of Katerina Nash (Clif Bar).
From the start, it was clear that Vos and Noble would be protagonists.
After Ellen van Loy and Maud Kaptheijns traded the lead on lap one, Noble went to the front, marked closely by the seven-time world champion Vos.
The duo of the American up-and-comer and the Dutch master had a 10-second lead after the first lap.
On the third lap, the leaders had a scare as Noble crashed in front of Vos. They lost a bit of time on the three chasers behind: Evie Richards (Trek), Nash, and Katie Compton (KFC Racing-Panache-Knight) but remained 14 seconds ahead.
Compton suffered a mechanical on the penultimate lap, leaving Richards and Nash to race for the final step on the podium.
Noble did all she could to drop Vos, driving the pace on the front into the final lap, but Vos had saved a match. She passed the American and led through an off-camber before making her winning move on a short climb.
Nash dispatched Richards on the last lap to finish third behind Noble.
The cyclocross World Cup continues Saturday at Jingle Cross in Iowa City.
Up against the reigning cyclocross world champion Wout Van Aert, Toon Aerts (Telenet-Fidea) didn’t bat an eye Sunday and won his first World Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Laurens Sweeck (PauwelsSauzen-VGS) was third on the dry course that snaked around the Trek Bicycles headquarters.
Van Aert took the holeshot off the line, but Sweeck quickly went to the front of the race — the Belgian typically likes to start aggressively.
Sweeck led a large group of favorites into the second of nine laps. Aerts and Van Aert were tucked in behind.
The early laps were characterized by a couple notable mishaps in the lead group. First, Sweeck had a bobble at the barriers. Then, Dan Soete crashed, taking out Ben Hermans. This left just Aerts and Van Aert in the lead.
With three to go, Sweeck had recovered and was chasing alone in third, about 11 seconds behind the duo.
On that same lap, Aerts made his move to drop Van Aert. The 24-year-old was particularly strong on the climbs and with two laps to go, he was 11 seconds up.
Hearing the bell for the final lap, Aerts had 15 seconds in hand, and it would be enough.
Van Aert rode in alone to second. Sweeck was third.
The American riders did not have a strong showing on home turf. Kerry Werner (Kona) was the top U.S. finisher in 22nd.
The cyclocross World Cup continues Saturday at Jingle Cross in Iowa City.
In the not-so distant past, American cyclocross fans hoping to watch the sport’s European stars had just two options. One was to seek out sketchy, low-quality internet feeds that were — let’s be honest — almost certainly illegal. The other was to buy a ticket to Belgium and watch the race in person.
Today, things are very different. The United States hosted the UCI cyclocross world championships in 2015, and each year at least one round of the UCI World Cup is staged on American soil. Live feeds of the European action are beamed across the internet on reliable feeds. Americans have more access to the sport’s top level than ever before.
The pathway that brought American ’cross to where it is today made a few stops — in Las Vegas, Louisville, and Iowa City. And now it goes directly through Waterloo, Wisconsin, and the world headquarters of Trek Bicycles.
Prior to 2013 Trek wasn’t particularly involved in cyclocross, either as a sponsor or as a bike manufacturer. Today, the brand is unquestionably linked to ’cross. So what changed?
According to Eric Bjorling, Trek brand manager, a handful of cyclocross fans within the company helped drive Trek toward the sport. CFO Chad Brown, former elite cyclocross racer — and reigning masters 35-39 world champion — Matt Shriver, and Trek Race Shop manager Scott Daubert all pushed Trek to pursue cyclocross.
Brown, an avowed ’cross fanatic whom several people at Trek describe as “the camp counselor,” stoked the company’s interest in the discipline.
“I just kept inviting people to ’cross practice and showing them how much fun it was and how attainable it was,” Brown says. “Like most things at Trek, people love a good time, and when you have the product teams developing great products and Matt Shriver bringing a lot of connections, there was just a lot of stuff working in our favor.”
According to Brown, serendipitous timing led Trek into cyclocross in 2013. As Trek pursued title sponsorship of the WorldTour team that became Trek-Segafredo, the company learned that ’cross star Sven Nys’s bike deal with Colnago was ending.
“Somebody said, ‘Should we get Sven?’ And our jaws just dropped,” Brown recalls. “And we said, ‘Yeah, we need to get Sven if he wants to work with us.’”
The decision kickstarted Trek’s involvement in the sport. The brand revealed its sponsorship of Nys in August of 2013. Nys, in turn, helped the brand develop its flagship Boone, which was launched the following season. The bike launched a cyclocross renaissance in Waterloo.
Today, Trek sponsors Nys’s Telenet-Fidea Lions, a major Belgian cyclocross team headlined by Lars van der Haar and Ellen Van Loy. It also supports other athletes including rising American star Ellen Noble, as well as 14-time U.S. champion Katie Compton. Trek also promotes a World Cup event, about to return for its second year, on the grounds of the company’s Wisconsin headquarters. And they stream European races from the DVV Verzekeringen Trofee on their website for free. By any measure, Trek has become a powerhouse of American cyclocross.
“We really tried to go from zero to 100 really quickly,” Bjorling says. “I think there’s a lot of things about cyclocross culture that run parallel to Trek corporate culture, which I think is why cyclocross became such a big deal — it was a natural fit for us. Trek is just a place filled with people who enjoy being around each other, and it’s a lively social scene, so this format of racing just felt natural for us.”
It was not a small investment. Putting on a World Cup race requires an entirely different way of thinking about everything, from venue to course. To manage the expanded race, Trek hired Brook Watts, who built CrossVegas into America’s first World Cup, to help guide their own race through the transition to a major world event.
“People don’t realize that a World Cup event, or any major cyclocross event, is a made-for-TV event,” Watts says. “And it changes how you think about everything from site layout — how we run TV cables, do we need to run conduit under the course? — to the course design. ‘I need a course in which a single camera can get the riders coming and going.’ That sort of thing.”
Likewise, streaming the DVV races required Trek to develop the complex technology necessary to record video direct from the race broadcaster’s satellite feed using a host in Switzerland, then package it and transmit it to their Stateside servers via the internet.
These are the kinds of problems major media companies solve, not something a traditional bike manufacturer would chase.
It’s easy to take a cynical approach to Trek’s investment in a growing category, but Trek representatives say the company’s investment is not solely about bike sales. The idea to host a World Cup sprung from a comment Nys made about Trek’s then Category 1 race. The race streaming was an organic response to a few employees’ frustration that they couldn’t watch the races they wanted to see.
“I’d love to tell you there was some strategy to this, but it really has grown organically,” Bjorling says. “I think one thing ’cross suffers from, in our view, is really just a lack of access. And so, taking a look at the barriers people have to accessing ’cross, that was a strategy we had. Asking what we can do to make this easier to view, easier to enjoy, and more available for more people. Let’s start there and then we’ll build around that.”
Trek again landed at the forefront of the sport this year when it announced it had elevated the women’s World Cup event to the marquee spot at the end of the day. For the second year running, it will also provide
equal payouts for men and women.
If these are corporate decisions, it seems an awful lot like they’re about culture, and not profit.
“I think people can speculate if it’s about selling bikes or passion, but whether or not there’s a payout to it, there’s a passion behind what they’re doing,” Noble says. “There are a lot of brands that do things that are solely money motivated, and they will use money as an excuse to not invest in things that are challenging. Investing in cyclocross and investing in women’s racing? Those are things that are challenging and are not necessarily going to pay off. If there’s not passion in what you’re doing, you just won’t take the risk.”
Brown says the company’s cyclocross fans are also motivated by the legacy of helping build cyclocross in the United States. Should the sport grow into something greater in the U.S., perhaps future generations will someday look back on the work done by a handful of individuals and appreciate the effort.
“I’ll look back at it 20 years from now with my son and say we did some cool stuff, maybe we helped influence some things that you can’t even believe were ever an issue with sports …” Brown says. “What a cool legacy that would be. What if all we had to do here was make our kids proud? That’s a job worth having and something worth doing.”
A who’s-who of international athletes lined up at the Trek CX Cup Friday in a lead up for Sunday’s Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in Waterloo. Evie Richards led home a Trek Factory Racing one-two with her new teammate Ellen Noble, whilst Quinten Hermans (Telenet Fidea Lions) won by 41 seconds in the men’s race.
The course was soaked with rain the night before, and battered by winds of up to 20 miles per hour, making for tricky conditions.
Richards leads home Trek one-two
Ellen Van Loy (Telenet Fidea Lions) attacked early in the first lap, taking on the wind ahead of five challengers.
By the third lap, she had been joined by Richards, Noble, Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight), and Fleur Nagengast (Telenet Fidea Lions). Helen Wyman (Xypex – Verge Sport) was not far behind, battling to bridge to them.
With two laps remaining, Trek teammates Richards and Noble attacked, drawing out Van Loy, and shattering the field behind. Shortly after, Richards attacked from the front, and stayed strong for an uncontested victory in a time of 43:48. Noble and Van Loy completed the podium, 21 and 36 seconds behind respectively.
“I was feeling strong on the first lap, and I knew I was strong enough early,” said Richards. “Then I couldn’t hold back any longer and I just went.
“I’ve had so much support this week with the launch of the new team. I kind of felt like I had to do something special. I’m pleased it paid off.”
“I think we have some stuff that we can play with going forward as teammates that I think could make us really dangerous. I’m excited about it,” said Noble, discussing her new team and teammate Richards.
“I am happy with how it went. A good opener for Sunday [World Cup]. Everyone is focused to Sunday,” said Keough.
Compton, last year’s winner at Trek CX Cup, did not finish the race due to complications with her allergies caused by the wind.
Hermans takes decisive win
Hermans took the front of the race from the holeshot, to be joined by Daan Soete (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice) shortly afterward. A small chase group followed, which included Corne Van Kessel (Telenet Fidea Lions), Tom Meeusen (Team Ciclismo Mundial), Eli Iserbyt (Marlus-Bingoal Cycling Team), and Steve Chainel (Team Chazal Canyon). Stephen Hyde (Cannnondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) was chasing, not far behind.
By the third lap, Hermans and Soete had a 15-second lead over the field, with Iserbyt and Hyde choosing to drop out. Over the following laps, Hermans slowly but surely put time into Soete, and rode on to win in a time of 1:00:54, with Soete coming in 41 seconds behind.
“I put him under pressure and got a small gap, so I kept making it bigger and bigger. I’m very happy with that,” said Hermans.
Behind Soete, Meeusen and Van Kessel battled for third place. They were one minute behind the leaders but only 10-seconds ahead of chasers Laurens Sweeck (Pauwels Sauzen-Vastgoedservice), Thijs Aerts (Telenet Fidea Lions), and Jim Aernouts (Telenet Fidea Lions). Despite a late attack from Sweeck, Van Kessel took third place with a sprint for the line, 1:12 behind the winner.
Dillman would finish as the top American in 11th place, three minutes behind Hermans.
“Today really put me in a good place. I think I’m more ready than ever to race on Sunday [at the World Cup],” said Dillman.
RENO, Nevada (VN) — It was a classic master-versus-pupil battle under the lights on a grassy park in Reno on Wednesday. Maghalie Rochette, 25, was up against Katerina Nash, 40, a rider who has been her mentor for years. With a gritty solo effort off the front, the young Canadian took the biggest cyclocross win of her career in Reno Cross.
Now, with Rochette entirely focused on cyclocross, Nash says we can expect big things from her former Clif Bar teammate.
“I see her as a pretty complete package, as she’s been maturing she’s been able to manage the over-excitement, something that some riders struggle with,” Nash told VeloNews. “I’ve definitely watched her grow up. She definitely has the engine. She’s a great bike-handler for sure.”
Up until 2018, Rochette split her time between mountain biking and cyclocross. Although she raced mountain bikes in the first half of this summer (winning a few Canada Cups in fact), her focus this year was squarely on cyclocross.
It has paid off. Rochette is off to a flying start, winning both days at Rochester as well as Reno Cross.
Given that early season form, she seems poised for a big result at the World Cup opener Sunday in Waterloo, Wisconsin, or the following weekend’s round in Iowa City. However, the young Canadian is keeping her feet on the ground.
“I’m trying to not have too many expectations actually,” she said about the World Cup opener. “I’m trying to have some clean races and just do my best, and that’s all I can hope for I guess.”
Last year, she was 23rd at Jingle Cross in Iowa City and 20th at the second World Cup round in Wisconsin at the Trek CXC Cup.
Nash, on the other hand, thinks Rochette could stun the Europeans this season.
“I think she has potential to get on the podium in a World Cup for sure,” Nash says. She even sees Rochette potentially making the podium in Europe later this season.
“Yeah, why not? Little Kaitie’s [Keough] done it [finished on the podium in a European World Cup]. And I think Maghalie, on a good day, she’s able to ride with Kaitie,” Nash adds.
And Nash would know better than most. The Czech Olympian has won multiple ‘cross World Cups. She’s also medaled twice at world cyclocross champions. And she’s helped Rochette develop for years. They would pre-ride ‘cross courses together. Nash would provide advice on line choice and race strategy.
“Katerina is one of my best friends, she’s my mentor,” said Rochette. “I respect her a lot and every time I get a chance to race against her it’s a real honor for me.”
Although Nash is sad to see Rochette leave the Clif Team, it is a prime opportunity for her young charge.
“She’s been knocking on that door,” says Nash. “There’s so many elements that have to play a role, but she’s got the support, she’s got the equipment, and she’s got the ‘fever’ and that’s what matters most.”
That is a winking reference to Rochette’s new solo outfit, CX Fever-Specialized.
The ‘fever’ is both the excitement of pre-race energy as well as Rochette’s dedication to the sport. In 2017 Rochette introduced the CX Fever initiative to support a young, female cyclocross rider with a $1,500 grant. In 2017, Rochette awarded the grant to Hannah Bauer of North Carolina. Bauer joined her and the Clif team at Louisville for Continental Championships.
Along with line selection, strategy, and race prep, it seems the Nash has passed down another lesson to her pupil: The value of paying it forward.
“She’s just got the whole package, so let’s see where she takes it,” Nash adds before stepping away to sing “happy birthday” to her teammate Haley Batten, 20, yet another young up-and-comer.
RENO, Nevada (VN) — Under the lights in Reno, Nevada after day two of the Interbike tradeshow, two emerging cyclocross stars were victorious on the grassy course in Rancho San Rafael Park Wednesday. Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever-Specialized) dominated the women’s race wire-to-wire. Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports) beat Jamie Driscoll at the very end of the men’s race.
Rochette solos to victory
Canadian Maghalie Rochette took control of the women’s race from the start on the loose dusty straightaway.
The 25-year-old admitted she had no intention of riding a solo time trial race from the gun, but she had an unexpected opportunity when Katerina Nash (Clif Bar) tripped and fell on the barriers early in the first lap.
“That was not only very embarrassing because it was right in front of everybody but definitely not a good start to a race,” Nash said about her mishap. “I went way back and I had to work my way up. I think I tried a little too hard and just had to settle in a manageable pace.”
Nash won Cross Vegas 2017 before the race moved to Reno along with Interbike, so she was a top favorite.
Rochette knew that her former Clif teammate Nash was still a threat and kept the pressure on throughout the 45-minute race.
“I know Katerina really, really well and I know she’s a fighter,” Rochette said. “I know she’s strong and I know that she’s one of the best riders in the world.”
Nash chased alone for virtually the entire race, while a group of four riders behind vied for third place.
For Rochette, it was a matter of staying concentrated and focused.
“What was going through my mind was next turn, pedal, next turn, stand up,” she added. “I was really trying to stay in the moment and not trying to think about anything else outside of this.”
The plan worked and she won by a comfortable margin. Nash rode to second alone, and Sofia Gomez-Villafane (Pivot-Stan’s No Tubes) took third.
“The final three laps, I was in a chase group and I just wanted to split it up a little bit from four to two,” Gomez-Villafane said. “I ended up just riding off the front. I rode my own race, pedaled my little butt out on the flats and got to recover on the turns.”
Haidet wins tactical battle
Haidet took his first career C1 victory at Reno Cross after attacking breakaway companion Jamey Driscoll (Pivot-Maxxis) in the race’s waning moments. The victory marks Haidet’s first major win since his U23 national title in 2017.
“All day, it would get strung out when guys would go hard on the front, and then the slow grass and the headwind would just neutralize it. It was sort of a yo-yo all day. When everyone would swarm, it would definitely get stressful, the fight for position was pretty gnarly sometimes. There were a couple of rubbing of wheels, and I think a couple of guys went down which is a bummer. Definitely had to pay attention all day,” said Haidet.
The Reno Cross men’s field was missing some notable riders, namely reigning U.S. champion Stephen Hyde (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), Kerry Werner (Kona Factory Racing), and Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) who bowed out due to an infection in his mouth. With the World Cup opener in Madison, Wisconsin on Sunday, many athletes opted to avoid extra racing and travel.
Yet the men’s race turned into a strategic battle early in the event, as a group of 10 riders surged to the front. The group included Driscoll, Haidet, Bjorn Selander and Tobin Ortenblad (both Donkey Label Racing), Anthony Clark (Squid Bikes), Michael Van Den Ham, Stephen Davoust, Allen Krughoff, and Geoff Kabush (OPEN-Maxxis). The group spent much of the hourlong race attacking and regrouping on the fast, grassy course.
With three laps remaining, Krughoff and Clark tangled and crashed, which caused a split — both Haidet and Driscoll made the front group of seven, which rolled away.
It was Driscoll who made the crucial move on the final lap. The Utah rider didn’t like his chances in the sprint and put in an attack after the group exited the course’s long sand pit.
“I decided to go for the long bomb on the hardest part of the course,” Driscoll said. “Lance just had the leg speed to go with me.”
With Driscoll at his full effort, Haidet made a final surge inside the waning meters to get his winning gap and crossed the line just a few bike lengths ahead of Driscoll.
Similar to Rochette and Nash, Driscoll and Haidet were longtime teammates on the Clement and then Donnelly Racing teams. When Haidet joined the team — he was just 18 years old at the time — Driscoll was amazed at the teenager’s maturity and skills.
“I was the experienced racer and he was still a junior, and he was already dialed in at 18,” Driscoll said. “There was no babysitting him.”
Driscoll left the squad for the 2018 season to form his own racing program, and will likely battle with Haidet at the country’s other UCI C1 and C2-rated races.
“My protégé kicked my butt today,” Driscoll added. “And I’m super excited for him.”
Erica Zaveta won her second race in a row at Pennsylvania’s Nittany Lion Cross, while a fresh face landed atop the men’s podium with France’s Matthieu Boulo taking victory Sunday in the UCI C2 event.
Zaveta attacks through the mud
Although sunshine broke through for the second day of racing, the course featured a notable mud pit early in the lap around the Valley Preffered Cycling Center venue.
Knowing that the mud would be a factor, Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme) took the holeshot, followed by Cassandra Maximenko (Van Dessel Factory Team) and Zaveta (Garneau-Easton Cycling).
“This was an important holeshot today,” said Kemmerer. “I just wanted to be the first one in there [the mud pit] so I could go where I wanted to go. I also did not pre-ride it. I knew it wouldn’t be ridable. So I usually have good starts. I thought it would split the field more than it did.”
One lap later, Zaveta moved into the lead. By the halfway point of the race, it was down to four riders — the same four who were in the winning selection in Saturday’s race — Zaveta, Kemmerer, Laura Van Gilder (Mello Mushroom-Van Dessel), and Regina Legge (Green Line Velo-Zipcar). Maximenko slipped back to fifth position.
“I made a move in the middle of the race, and kind of rode away in the technical turns to test, see how things were going,” Zaveta said.
The four stayed together until the last lap when Zaveta accelerated and took a 13-second lead over Kemmerer.
“With one lap to go, I attacked, right in the mud pit. I ran through it and got a gap there,” Zaveta said about her winning move. “Then I was committed, so I [was] full gas after the mud for the rest of it. I thought I went a little bit too early, but then I was ‘here we go.’”
Zaveta came home six seconds ahead of Kemmerer. Van Gilder rounded out the podium in third place.
“We were a group of four for a long time,” added Kemmerer. “We would get gaps without even knowing. The three of them attacked past the first pit on the last lap, going into the mud pit. All three of them went around me and there was nowhere to go. I just attached myself as fourth wheel and didn’t love doing that, but figured it’s OK. We were going really slow in the turns before the second pit entrance, and I was like, ‘I have to go now.’ I put some good time into Erica, but I didn’t have enough. She wasn’t that far ahead. I wish I would have executed a little differently, but I’m really happy to finish where I did.”
Boulo sprints to victory in men’s race
By the time the pro men lined up, the course had mostly dried out, apart from the mud pit, which had become sticky and slow.
With Saturday’s winner Kerry Werner (Kona) skipping day two, Boulo took the holeshot from the start, followed by Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld).
Behind, Alex Ryan (Pactimo-Mock Orange), Daniel Chabanov and Michael Owens (House Ind-Dwr-Hm) formed a chase group.
Nearing the halfway point, the teammates Chabanov and Owen moved past Ryan, but could not reel in Boulo and White.
“We weren’t making the race easy for each other. We both were pushing the pace, and wanting to test each other where we could,” White said about his battle with Boulo. “The first three laps, I think, he [Boulo] took control. I didn’t see him look back once. We were able to fight it out and it came down to, literally, the last couple hundred meters, or to the last corner.”
The lead duo kept pushing the pace with each lap and extending the gap to over two minutes on Chabanov headed into the final lap. With one to go, White tried to make a pass at the stairs but then lost position going into the turns.
“After the stairs, I took the lead and led through the chicanes in the woods,” White added. “I just wanted to take away any advantage he had there. In the last couple of meters before the corner, he dove to the inside, which maybe I would have done the exact same thing. It was a corner that we needed to race to. And it was too tight to make any other passes. I kept it within a bike length or two for the last few corners, but it just wasn’t enough to make the difference.”
It came down to a sprint at the line with Boulo taking the win.
“Two and one are good races,” Boulo said, referring to his second-place finish on Saturday and his win Sunday. “It was very fast in the corners. It’s technical — tight, tight, tight on the corners. It’s a good feeling on the bike.”
Belgian Yorben Van Tichelt (Neon Velo) overtook Chabanov on the final lap to take third on the day.
“I knew I was not in good shape coming into these races, so mentally I was just prepared that this was training. So, I’m pretty happy with this podium,” said Van Tichelt, who has been training in the U.S. for a month. “I was just so hot in the start, that my legs said, ‘No, not today.’ You know? I was in sixth or seventh place, and I just felt like something needs to happen. Well, it didn’t. I just said to myself, try to do good sections of the course not full laps, like interval training. And I saw that I was catching some people. That made me motivated to the finish.”
Van Tichelt will not race the World Cup races in Waterloo, Wisconsin or Iowa City later this month, but will return home to Belgium.
“I’m looking forward to this bad, rainy Belgian weather again,” he added. “I’m heading back to Belgium. I’m just not in good shape to do World Cups yet, I don’t want to disappoint myself.”
Racing for week 4 of ProCX will feature the midweek RenoCross in Reno, Nevada on Wednesday. This is the second C1 race of the season. RenoCross coincides with the Interbike tradeshow.
A Friday matinee will be held September 21 at the Trek Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin. On Sunday, the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series will begin in Wisconsin.
After a one-year absence from the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX), the Nittany Lion Cross returned Saturday.
Erica Zaveta (Garneau-Easton Cycling), currently sixth in the ProCX women’s standings, took her first win this season for the elite women. Men’s ProCX points leader Kerry Werner (Kona-Maxxis-Shimano) won the elite men’s race, continuing his streak.
Zaveta attacks on foot
Erica Zaveta took a narrow win over Laura Van Gilder (Mello Mushroom/Van Dessel).
Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme Racing), winner of the 2016 Nittany Lion race, took the early lead on the first of six laps and was joined at the front by Regina Legge (Green Line Velo-Zipcar) and Erica Zaveta after a few more circuits. With three laps to go, the early leaders were joined by Emily Shields Werner (Amy D. Foundation), Rachel Rubino (Fearless Femme Racing), and Van Gilder.
With two-and-a-half laps to go, the field had fractured, leaving three out front to battle for the podium: Zaveta, Van Gilder, and Kemmerer. Van Gilder and Kemmerer launched attacks, but it was Zaveta that made the telling move.
“When it was the three of us, we just maintained it as a group. Everyone was being tactical,” said Zaveta. “Then with two to go there were a few moves. Laura attacked, Arley attacked. I attacked right at the stairs, it was a running attack. I was running from my fears of losing. It worked out.”
Zaveta, who had two fifth-place finishes at Rochester Cyclocross last weekend, took the win in a time of 49:41. Just four seconds back was Van Gilder for second, and Kemmerer would take third.
“I feel very comfortable on this course. There’s also a lot of pressure that comes with that,” said 54-year-old Van Gilder about her six wins since the Nittany Lion Cross started 13 years ago. “I think today’s field was one of the most competitive depth-wise.”
Werner uses the home advantage
Kerry Werner took a narrow win on home turf over Matthieu Boulo (Team Pays de Dinan) in the men’s race.
Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) went out to an early lead, and Werner joined soon after. Boulo closed the gap to the two leaders on the second lap.
On lap five, three laps later, Werner attacked off the front but failed to gain a significant gap over Boulo. In the final three laps, Buolo gained the lead when Werner slid out on a muddy off-camber section. The final attack from Werner was on the bell lap, giving him the win in 58:07, 21 seconds over Boulo.
Meanwhile, White lost time on the two leaders with four laps to go but retained his position. He finished third, 1:48 back.
“I always like working on technique out there, so I was really trying to push the corners and take a few risks here and there,” Werner said. “And that’s kind of where I attacked, kind of did it on a turn. I tried to push the pace. It worked out.”
“In training and everything, I felt rested and recovered,” White said. “I think it was just the first ‘cross race of the year. Tomorrow hope I’ll be a bit sharper, and certainly next weekend I will be.”
North America’s top cyclocross racers face a new competitive landscape in 2018 due to two major shifts in the racing schedule. The first shift was planned: USA Cycling moved its U.S. national cyclocross championships back from January to mid-December, pushing the event into the meat of the racing season. The second was not: the Sho Air US Cup-CX — the seven-race series that awarded $10,000 to its male and female winners — was canceled after its inaugural season.
Ryan Trebon, the series’s director, announced the decision on social media in May.
“I’m sorry to announce that I have been unable to find the required funding to run the US Cup-CX for 2018,” Trebon wrote on Twitter. “I’m extremely sorry to all the fans, racers, promoters that we will not be able to have a series this year.”
The calendar upheaval has created a new challenge for the country’s top professionals: which races should they target, and why? USA Cycling’s Pro CX calendar is comprised of 43 different races, spread from September until December and held at venues across the country. All of the events carry UCI designation, either a C1 or C2 rating, which award points that are crucial to each rider’s starting position.
The schedule, however, also contains multiple overlapping race dates, as well as races spread across the country. Two rounds of the UCI World Cup are tucked into the racing schedule as well.
Riders are being forced to pick and choose which races to target.
“It’s a bummer that [the US Cup-CX] went away because it’s hard to choose which races to go to now,” said Maghalie Rochette (CX Fever-Specialized). “I chose races that are close to where I live. And usually people target the [UCI] C1 races, so I figure if I’m at most of those, I’ll have good competition.”
Jamey Driscoll (Donnelly Racing) said that, in lieu of a true national series, pro riders have simply created an unofficial series based around the C1 events.
“It’s essentially going to go back to what it was before, which is an unofficial calendar where all the best riders go to the C1 races because that’s where the money and the points are,” Driscoll said.
VeloNews reached out to a handful of racers to see which races they will target in 2018, and a similar picture emerged. Most riders said they plan to compete in the C1 races in Rochester (Sept. 8), Iowa City (Sept. 30), Baltimore (Oct. 6), Cincinnati (Oct. 27), and Warwick, Rhode Island (Dec. 1). Some of these events also feature a C2 event the day following or prior to the C1 event, and riders said they will also compete in the C2 race.
There are two C1 races that create a scheduling challenge, however. Some riders said they plan to skip the Reno Cross event on September 19, as well as the Ruts ‘n Guts race in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on December 8. The Reno race falls just four days before the World Cup round in Waterloo, Wisconsin, forcing some riders to choose between the two.
The Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com team of Kaitie Keough, Steven Hyde, and Spencer Petrov has opted out of the Reno race in order to prepare for the World Cup. Kerry Werner (Kona Factory Racing) will also skip the event.
“For me, it’s about trying to manage the busy schedule before I head to Europe,” Werner said. “Trying not to burn myself out before I get over there.”
Tobin Ortenblad said the available points at the C1 race in Reno are enough to lure him to the event. Ortenblad will compete in the Reno race and then travel to Wisconsin for the C2 Trek Cup.
“The amount of points and cash you stand to gain at Reno is worth the compromise,” Ortenblad said. “It’s going to be a hard turnaround to race in Wisconsin but [Trek Cup] is only a C2 that day.”
The other scheduling headache is due to the onset of the European World Cup races in November and December, prior to USA Cycling’s national championships from December 11-16. Some riders will head overseas, while others plan to stay behind. World Cup favorites Katie Compton (Trek) and Katerina Nash (Clif Bar) both plan to race overseas during this bloc of races. Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com will also take its riders to the World Cup rounds in Tabor, Czech Republic (Nov. 17) and Koksijde, Belgium (Nov. 25).
Those riders with the funding will then head overseas for the World Cup rounds in December and January. Riders who are chosen to represent their respective countries will then compete in the UCI world championships in Bogense, Denmark during the first week of February.
It’s a long season that will include plenty of cross-country and overseas travel, and perhaps some confusion.
“If you have your [stuff] dialed in it’s not so bad,” said Stu Thorne, owner of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com. “A lot of other athletes that are potentially on the worlds team are going to find out how difficult it is to do that.”
Chris Case and Spencer Powlison contributed to this story.
Maghalie Rochette and Stephen Hyde finished their weekend at Rochester Cyclocross batting 1.000 after each won their second race in as many days on Sunday.
Rochette (CX Fever-Specialized) topped Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) and Kaitie Keough (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) in the women’s race to go with her victory in Saturday’s event. In the men’s race, Hyde (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) defeated Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) and Kerry Werner (Kona-Maxxis-Shimano) one day after taking a win to open the weekend in New York.
Rochette’s early move
Rochette was following Noble in the race’s opening lap when the latter slid out on a corner. That gave Rochette the opportunity to jump to the head of the race, where she had clean air and plenty of real estate in front of her.
By the second lap of six, Rochette began building a gap that quickly jumped up to eight seconds. She slowly increased it from there, eventually finishing 32 seconds ahead of Noble when they crossed the finish line for the last time.
“I could see [the gap] growing. For three or four laps I really pushed to open the gap,” Rochette said Sunday. “Then I was conservative to make sure I kept the gap.”
Rochette admitted she was satisfied with the weekend, given that she earned a pair of victories against a strong field on the second stop of the 2018 USA Cycling Pro CX calendar.
“I’m super happy about that,” she said. “I was trying not to think about it too much. I try to really focus on what I can execute and what I can control, and not think about the end result too much. That is what I did this weekend. I surprised myself. I’m happy with how things went.”
Hyde emerges from lead group
Hyde was part of a group that was in front of the men’s race for all eight laps. By the midway point, he was among four riders pedaling hard at the sharp end, trying to stave off several chasers.
Hyde said the foursome kept each other motivated by pushing each other.
“It was a big group. We were changing up,” Hyde said. “Guys were coming off, coming back and coming off. We never let up. I think there was some back patting, like ‘come on man, let’s do this, go hard.’ We all needed it. It was a great kick in the pants. It just worked out.”
The group led the race by 30 seconds with three laps left, but with one and a half remaining, Powers stomped on the gas — a move that left Werner and Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru) behind. From there, it was a two-man battle in the final lap.
Hyde was able to gain a few seconds on Powers in the final section of the course and then sprinted the rest of the way to win by five ticks of the clock.
“It was nice just to be up there racing. Today was way better than yesterday,” said Powers, who finished seventh on Saturday. “Yesterday, the bike just wasn’t dialed, things weren’t quite 100 percent. Today, I made some adjustments, rode things a little bit differently, and played my cards a little better. I’m very happy.”
The USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar picks up September 15-16 at Nittany Lion Cross in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania.