Holeshot Heroes And Two Person Duels Defined U.S. CX Nationals

Let’s catch our collective breaths, because we cheered loud and hustled hard at the 2018 Cyclocross National Championships in Reno, Nevada.

We ran from the ditch to the sandpit, past the barriers and across wide open fields to cover nail-biting battles in both the men’s and women’s elite races. We scrambled up rocky inclines to witness the dueling pairs of Hyde and Powers and Compton and Noble skidding down off camber turns.

Here’s what we saw at nationals.

Holeshot Heroes

Ellen Noble’s taken some notable holeshots this season, leading races at Hamme and Overijse in Belgium, so when she went to the front in Reno few fans were surprised. (Excited, yes. Surprised, no.) By the sandpit, just minutes into the race, she’d already gapped Kaitie Keough and isolated Katie Compton off the front, setting up a mano-a-mano battle.


In the men’s race, Tobin Ortenblad bunny-hopped the set of three concrete stairs and took the lead, quickly forcing a selection of six contenders. A half lap later, Jeremy Powers took the front of the race, and set a pace only reigning national champion Stephen Hyde could hang with.

Something Old, Something New

The formerly undisputed king of U.S. cross, Powers has struggled with a recurring heart condition this season. Though he’s factored in a number of races, he has failed to notch any UCI C1 wins. His return to form at nationals harkened back to the season opener in Rochester, New York, when master (Powers) and pupil (Stephen Hyde) sprinted to the finish.

In Reno, Hyde said he used every trick Powers taught him and more to gain a gap before the final run-up. Hyde said he watched the line Powers took into the wooden bridge every lap, and then took the opposing line on the final lap to make his race winning pass.


Following the awards ceremony for her 14th national title (think about that: 14 titles in a row), Katie Compton said she could feel the next generation of elite American women (Noble and Keough) breathing down her neck. But, she said, “They’re going to have to peel [the jersey] off my cold, dead body, I’m pretty sure. I’m going to fight for it, because I do enjoy wearing it.”

Compton led the race from midway through lap one, but she bobbled the final time down the off-camber descent with Noble hot on her wheels. In that fleeting moment, it looked as if the long reign of the American queen of cross might finally come to an end.

Keough, who currently sits second in the UCI World Cup ranking, broke into tears in her post-race interview. She felt this might have been the year she finally beat Compton.

Meanwhile, an exuberant Noble pumped her fist as she crossed the line in second, less than 10 seconds back. For the American women, making Compton look over her shoulder as she powered to the line at another national championship was a kind of victory in itself.


Off To Europe, Or Into Offseason

A handful of elite racers will head to Europe in the coming weeks for the final two rounds of the UCI World Cup, and then the World Championships. The rest will go home and begin resting.

Keough is off to Belgium on Tuesday to prepare for Nommay, while Noble will arrive in advance of Hoogerheide. Both could potentially challenge for a podium at the World Championships.

Meanwhile, after a recent run of disappointing worlds races, might this be the year Compton finally lands on the top step?

Hyde is the undisputed leader of the men’s elite team, and has undoubtedly made worlds the cornerstone of his season. However, Ortenblad and Werner will be looking for worlds selections (and breakout rides at the championship race) as well.

Powers didn’t make a trip to Europe this season, but given his recent return to form — if selected for the worlds team — we would expect him to make the journey overseas.


Images by David Calvert – USA Today

Six Day Series To Be Broadcast On FloBikes

Cycling fans in the USA can now watch the world's best cyclists, including Mark Cavendish, Elia Viviani and Laura Kenny racing at Six Day events, following a broadcast partnership between the Madison Sports Group and FloSports.Fans can subscribe to FloBikes to watch the Six Day Series live and on-demand, beginning in London, Oct 22-27.

Transgender Athlete Defends Her Place In Women's Cycling

Transgender cyclist Rachel McKinnon has defended her right to compete in women's sport despite accepting trans athletes may retain a physical advantage over their rivals.   

Taylor Phinney Retires From Professional Cycling

null

This weekend in Japan,  Taylor Phinney will zip up his EF Education First kit for the last time. He’ll pin on his numbers, and clip in for what is the final professional race of  a career that’s been beautiful, frustrating, and everything in between.  From the Olympics to the Tour de France to the cobblestones of Roubaix, there’s no one who’s done it quite like Taylor Phinney. He won numerous junior titles on the track and competed in the individual pursuit at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finished fourth in the road race and time trial at the 2012 London Olympics four years later, completed two Tours de France and last season came in eighth at Paris-Roubaix, his favorite race. He fought back from a career-threatening leg break sustained in 2014, and along the way began to ponder a life outside of professional racing. Eventually, the side of him hoping to explore art and music, the side of him hoping to dig deeper into a place rather than a suitcase… that side won out. We talked to Phinney about his decision to move on from road racing, how he reconciles the expectations held by others for his cycling career with his own ambitions and dreams, and what’s next.   

Five Stages That Will Define The 2020 Tour de France

The 2020 Tour de France route unveiled in Paris on Tuesday set pulses racing with a host of mouth-watering stages in prospect. Here, we present five stages that will define the race.

Injury, Age Put Froome In Doubt For 2020 Tour de France Bid

A course made up of 29 lung-busting climbs would appear to be tailor-made for Chris Froome but the four-time champion admitted on Tuesday that he may not even be on the start line at the 2020 Tour de France.

Route Reveal: No Easy Stages In Mountainous 2020 Tour de France

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The 2020 Tour de France promises to be one for the climbers after organisers revealed a route on Tuesday which includes 29 high altitude ascents and five summit finishes including the individual time trial.

Mountains Galore in 2020 Tour de France, According To Course Designer

The 2020 Tour de France will be as mountainous and open to attacks as this year's vintage edition, the race designer hinted to AFP a day ahead of the official Grande Boucle route unveiling.

Bauke Mollema Wins Il Lombardia With Long Range Attack

Dutch rider Bauke Mollema crossed the line alone on the banks of Lake Como taking victory ahead of the race favourites with a solo break from 20km in cycling's season-ending Tour of Lombardy on Saturday.

Grand Tour Winers Bernal, Roglic To Clash At Il Lombardia

null

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal and Vuelta a Espana winner Primoz Roglic have carried their fine form into this week's Italian classics culminating in Saturday's season-ending Giro di Lombardia.

Bernal, Sosa Dominate Gran Piemonte In One-Two Finish

null

Tour de France champion Egan Bernal made a solo break to win Thursday's Gran Piemonte semi-classic race through the north of Italy, to warm up for this weekend's season-ending Giro di Lombardia.