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The 2017 USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships are well under way in Hartford, Connecticut, where amateur and collegiate racers have been slipping and sliding their way through the technical course since Tuesday.
The week-long event will come to a close on Sunday when the Elite men and women will battle for the coveted stars and stripes jersey.
In the elite women’s race, Katie Compton (Trek – Panache) will be going for her 13th straight title, while a fierce battle is anticipated between defending champion Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) and Emma White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) in the U23 race.
— Brad Sohner (@bradsohner) January 4, 2017
On Sunday, the racing action will start at 9 a.m. EST (3 p.m. CET or 12 a.m. AEST on January 9) with the Junior Men. The U23 women will go off at 10 a.m. followed by the U23 men at 11:30 a.m.
The afternoon is reserved for the Elite categories with the women’s race starting at 1:15 p.m. and the men’s race starting at 3 p.m.
All of Sunday’s races will be live streamed. Be sure to tune in at 10 a.m. EST (4 p.m. CET or 1 a.m. AEST on January 9) to catch the women’s U23 battle and again at 1:15 p.m. EST ( 7:15 CET or 4:15 a.m. AEST on Janaury 9) for the start of the Elite races.
If you’re unable to watch the livestream, check out the official Twitter account @USACycling or use the hashtag #CXNATS
— USA Cycling (@usacycling) January 3, 2017
Ruts, mud, frozen ground and steep descends, the course in Hartford’s Riverside Park is highly technical, and one that has surprised riders.
“The conditions have created a much harder course than racers expected,” Tara McCarthy, USA Cycling Event Director, told Ella CyclingTips.
“But the response has been very positive,” she ensured. “Weather will continue to evolve this week and we will adjust the course as needed for racers.”
While racers earlier in the week had to deal with a lot of slippery conditions –turning the event into a bit of a sloppy running race –, the course has been drying out as temperatures are falling, making the ground and ruts rock hard going into the Friday and weekend races.
“[The course] awesome. It’s really great. Having Nationals in New England feels good, having a good course in New England is even better so I’m excited,” Ellen Noble, a New England native, commented after a pre-ride earlier this week.
Line choice is going to be critical, Noble said, pointing out the steep ascend of Bonk Breaker Hill which is followed by a long and wide off-camber descend.
Video preview of the course :
The best US cyclocrosser of all time, Katie Compton is going into Sunday’s race in search of her 13th straight national title. She spent a little less time than usual in Europe this year, hoping that less travel and racing would lead to fewer injuries and other health issues that have plagued her throughout her career. Still, she netted 12 UCI wins including JingleCross and the Pan-American Continental Championships.
Last year’s battle for the stars and stripes jersey was the hardest one yet, Compton said, when Georgia Gould came closer than anyone ever had before in dethroning Compton.
Pregnant with her first child, Gould will not be competing this year but will be on site as she’s joining Brad Sohner on the mic.
Compton’s competition instead will come from riders like Kaitie Antonneau. The former U23 champ finished on the podium in the previous two years, and despite battling some dark demons this fall, had some strong performances in Europe last month.
Other podium favourites include Amanda Miller (Boulder Cycle Sport-YogaGlo), who’s been a podium regular at domestic events and gained some valuable World Cup experience in Europe, finishing in the top 10 at some of Europe’s most prestigious races like Namur and Heusden-Zolder.
Elle Anderson (Elle Anderson Racing) has spent more time in Europe than any other American this season. And despite the lack of podium results, her experience could prove to be invaluable as course condition seem to be changing constantly.
The domestic riders are not to be discounted, either. Courtenay McFadden (American Classic) for example had been riding herself into promising shape at just the right time, winning three UCI racing back to back to back in December. With solid performances all season, Rebecca Fahringer (Amy D. Foundation) is another rider expected to have a good ride and likely to finish in the top 5 if not on the podium.