After two years of being spoiled with championship racing in Madison, WI, our virtual backyard, the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships this Wednesday through Sunday, January 8th-12th, are in Boulder, CO.
Despite the distance to those of us in the Midwest, no one can deny that Boulder and bikes go together just as well as bikes and beer. (For the record, Boulder does beer really well, too. In fact, one could argue that Boulder is the birthplace of microbrew.)
And a trip to Boulder is less involved than a trip to the Cyclocross World Championships this year. Last year, we were again spoiled with world class racing only a short road trip away, in Louisville, KY. For 2014, the Elite World Championships are being held February 1st and 2nd, across the pond in Hoogerheide, Netherlands – we admit, another indisputable choice for cyclocross racing. (Masters Worlds was this past weekend in Gossau, Switzerland.)
Boulder is a city known for its world class athletes and its commitment to outdoor endeavors. Cycling is a way of life – whether it be road cycling from mountain pass to mountain pass, off-road cycling as a way to relieve stress after a day’s work or commuting to one of Boulder’s many outdoors retailers, unique shops or pubs.
Valmont Bike Park, the site of the 2014 Cyclocross National Championships is home to 40 acres of diverse natural terrain. Race organizers are making the most of the “40 acres of awesome” park to make a challenging and diverse course for the Championship.
Using the Boulder Cup to test different layouts for the course, race organizers have been able to maximize the terrain at Valmont Bike Park for Nationals. Described as an “all-rounder course,” this course has something for everyone. There are fast, flat pedaling sections, uneven terrain, climbs, steep downhill sections, off-camber descents, sand and two stair sections including the Belgian steps, a high-speed stair section. The other stair section, the 5280′ Run-up, is made up of two flights of stairs with one step at exactly one mile in altitude, hence the staircase’s name.
Valmont Bike Park is, according to VeloNews, “truly an amazing facility, particularly for those into cyclocross, BMX, dirt jumping, or dirt riding with children, or who are mountain-bike singletrack newbies wanting to try riding high-speed berms, skinny logs and other stunts.” The elite male and female inners of last year’s Boulder Cup, Belgian Ben Berden and Colorado native Katie Compton, both “gushed about the quality of the Valmont course and its massive and enthusiastic crowds.”
As Pete Webber, course designer, pointed out in the video, the difficulty of a cyclocross course is determined by the weather. As of last Friday, the course was blanketed in snow.
The forecast for this week shows variable sunshine with temperatures ranging from highs in the low to mid 40’s during the day and below freezing temps at night – meaning the course conditions will likely offer varying degrees of mud throughout the day.
Five Days of Racing
The schedule begins Wednesday with Non-Championship racing and culminates in an exciting weekend of elite and pro level racing. Male Junior 17-19 Cat 1/2/3, Female Elite/U23 17+ Pro/Cat 1/2/3 and Male Elite 19+ Pro/Cat 1/2 racing will all be streamed live on USA Cycling’s website.
But the racing isn’t just for the big boys and girls. For the first time ever at Cyclocross Nationals, the Junior categories have been realigned, creating categories for 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18, providing for more even match-ups between them and allowing 9-year-olds to get involved in the racing action. Boulder has also built into the schedule time for non-competitive racing for those 9-years-old and under in the PreJ categories.
Recognizing future generations of cyclocross racers, Boulder has dedicated a lot in to making this National Championship as kid-friendly as possible. According to Greg Keller, accidental cyclocross expert, “We’re pouring as much as we can community-wise into making the event most especially awesome for the kids. The sport is growing by leaps and bounds with their participation.”
As for the current generation, coming fresh off her World Cup win in Rome, Colorado native Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, CO/Trek Cyclocross Collective) leads the women’s pack. Katie is a nine-time and current National Champion.
Two Boulder natives competing with Katie are predicted to secure top-10 spots. Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), a strong rider, is always in contention. Another threat to Compton is Nicole Duke (Marin/SPY), who took third in last year’s championship race, riding hard after mechanical issues.
Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld), formerly of Racine, WI, now living in Colorado Springs, CO, after securing National Champion U23 rider two years in a row, is also ranked highly.
The predictions for the men’s race show some familiar names at the top of the list. Last year’s podium toppers are there: Jonathon Page (Northfield, NH/Fuji/Spyoptics), with four national titles under his belt, Zach McDonald (Bainbridge Island, WA/Team Rapha-Focus) and James Driscoll (Park City, UT/Donnelly Sports).
Timothy Johnson (Topsfield, MA/Cannondale Cyclocrossworld) is predicted to place high this year. Jeremy Powers (Easthampton, MA/Team Rapha-FOCUS), 2012 National Champion, and Ryan Trebon (Bend, OR), two-time National Champion, are ranked highly also.
2014 Cyclocross National Championships Schedule
Remember: all times are MST. Add one hour to adjust for CST.
|9:00am||CX Female Non-Championship||40 mins|
|10:00am||CX Male Non-Championship 10-29||40 mins|
|11:00am||CX Male Non-Championship 30-44||40 mins|
|12:00pm||CX Male Non-Championship 45-99||40 mins|
|1:00pm||CX Male Industry Race Cat 1/2/3/4/5||40 mins|
|1:00pm||CX Female Industry Race||40 mins|
|1:00pm||CX All Industry Mechanics||40 mins|
|1:00pm||CX All Industry Singlespeed||40 mins|
|2:00pm||CX Female Single Speed||40 mins|
|3:00pm||CX Male Single Speed||40 mins|
|9:00am||CX Male Master 60-64||40 mins|
|9:01am||CX Male Master 65-69||40 mins|
|9:02am||CX Male Master 70+||40 mins|
|10:00am||CX Female Master 55-59||35 mins|
|10:01am||CX Female Master 60+||35 mins|
|11:00am||CX Male Master 55-59||40 mins|
|1:00pm||CX Female Master 45-49||35 mins|
|1:01pm||CX Female Master 50-54||35 mins|
|2:00pm||CX Female Master 40-44 Cat 1/2/3||40 mins|
|3:00pm||CX Male Master 50-54 Cat 1/2/3||45 mins|
|9:00am||CX Male Master 45-49 Cat 1/2/3||45 mins|
|10:00am||CX Female Master 30-34 Cat 1/2/3||40 mins|
|11:00am||CX Female Junior 17-18||30 mins|
|11:01am||CX Female Junior 15-16||30 mins|
|11:45am||CX Male Junior 15-16||30 mins|
|12:30pm||CX Male Junior 13-14||20 mins|
|1:00pm||CX Female Junior 13-14||20 mins|
|1:45pm||CX Male Junior 11-12||20 mins|
|1:46pm||CX Female Junior 11-12||20 mins|
|2:15pm||CX Male Junior 9-10||20 mins|
|2:16pm||CX Female Junior 9-10||20 mins|
|3:15pm||CX D1/D2 Collegiate Team Relay||4 laps|
|9:00am||CX Male Master 40-44 Cat 1/2/3||45 mins|
|10:00am||CX Female Master 35-39 Cat 1/2/3||40 mins|
|11:30am||CX Female Collegiate Division 1||40 mins|
|11:31am||CX Female Collegiate Division 2||40 mins|
|12:30pm||CX Male U23 19-22||50 mins|
|1:30pm||CX Male Master 35-39 Cat 1/2/3||45 mins|
|2:30pm||CX Male Master 30-34 Cat 1/2/3||45 mins|
|9:00am||CX Male Collegiate Division 2||50 mins|
|10:00am||CX Male Collegiate Division 1||50 mins|
|11:00am||CX Male Junior 17-19 Cat 1/2/3||40 mins|
|1:30pm||CX Female Elite/U23 17+ Pro/Cat 1/2/3||40 mins|
|2:45pm||CX Male Elite 19+ Pro/Cat 1/2||60 mins|
Again, all times are MST; add one hour to adjust for CST.
The last three races on Sunday will be streamed live at USA Cycling. Click here for the live stream, beginning at 12:00pm CST Sunday, January 12th.
Links for more information about the 2014 Cyclocross National Championships:
- Official USA Cycling schedule for Nationals.
- USA Cycling’s official website – for course map, updates and results.
- Valmont Bike Park.
- More on USA Cyclocross National Championships and what to do in Boulder.
- Live stream for the 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships Juniors Men’s 17-18, Elite Women’s and Elite Men’s races live on Sunday, January 12th.