Cyclocross Nationals Analysis

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I’m not really into analyzing bike races.  You could do it all day and probably not be more than 25% correct.  There is so much stuff going on with each rider, that it is impossible to really know what truly happened.  That is for sure the case yesterday at Cyclocross Nationals in Austin.  I might have got to see more of the race, sitting in a basement in Lawrence Kansas, than actually watching it in person in Austin, but I only got to follow what the cameras allowed me to see.

With that said, it is easy to analyze what happened yesterday in Austin in the U23, woman’s and men’s Elite races.  At least at the front.

Logan Owen is really just that much better than everyone else in the U23 category.  He has now won 11 straight National Championships.  That isn’t a fluke.  The course was much more tricky when he was racing than when the Elite men were competing a couple hours later.  More moisture and less of a ridden in groove.  But, he rode a pretty flawless race and won easily.

The women’s race was interesting.  I missed the start because Vincent was trying to stream the BTB TV directly from Youtube and it wasn’t streaming.  We started it about 1/3 a lap in, and Katie Compton was buried.  At least for her.  I have no idea how she got back there.  After the race, from her interview, it sounded like she wanted to start easy and then ride into it.  In my opinion, that is a horrible tactic.  The chances of having a catastrophic issue back there trying to pass people, especially on the first lap, are multiplied by 20.

She is so much better than most other American women, that she should be able to start at the front and stay there.  I would love to get a few weeks of riding with Katie.  She is so good in most aspects of the sport, but missing some really important ingredients.  Enough that she sometimes struggles early in big races when she should really be settling in.

But, it took less than a lap to catch the front and she led over the finish line after one lap.  It was pretty much done from then.  I don’t think Katie was having her best day on the bike, but it was good enough.  The fight for 2nd was good until Rachel Loyd fell hard and screwed up her bike a bit.  That was just enough to separate her and Kaitlin Antonneau.   That was how it finished.  Kaitlin rides cyclocross beautifully and is only going to get better.  It seems like she can ride in treacherous conditions about as good as anyone.  Her finishing less than 30 seconds behind Katie was a victory in itself.  Rachel keeping it together after crashing and not getting rattled, still finishing 3rd, is also a victory.  They both rode pretty great.

The men’s race, well it was pretty predictable.  We all made our pre-race predictions.  I picked Powers winning, Page, 2nd and Summerhill 3rd.  Summerhill finished 4th, ruining a perfect guess.

I wanted to pick Jonathan Page to win, but the course had dried up too much by the time the men were ready to start.  It wasn’t nearly as slick as when the U23 guys rode and the lines were starting to form.  I think if it would have be just a tad more wet, Jonathan, and maybe even Zach McDonald, might have given Jeremy Powers a little more of a challenge.  Not that Jonathan didn’t keep Jeremy right there.

I think if Jonathan wouldn’t had flatted and lost contact with Jeremy, it would have been a much closer race throughout.  Or if Jonathan wouldn’t have pitted a couple times early, he could have made up the distance he lost from the flat.

I was mildly amazed how many guys were riding into the 2nd pit to change bikes, when the pit line was maybe 3-5 seconds slower than the racing course line.  Even the guys racing for 4-6 kept doing it.  If I would have been there, advising a rider, I would have told them to stay out of that pit as much as possible.  But, from the streaming video, it was hard seeing how gummed up the bikes were getting, so it is really hard to know exactly how many times they truly needed to get a new bike.

Jonathan Page had bad luck again, flatting early.  I was mildly surprised that not more riders flatted yesterday.  Rocks with mud are usually a recipe for that, but it seemed that didn’t really happen much.  I think Zach McDonald might have flatted too, so I guess 2 out of the top 3 did, so maybe it was more common than it seemed.

Jeremy Powers really just rode like a machine.  He didn’t even look like he was trying that hard.  That is a sign that he was pretty under control the whole race.  He was a very deserving winner.  He’s concentrating on going fast one day a week.  And it seems like it is working out for him perfectly.  Hopefully he can keep his season long form until the end of the month for Worlds in Tabor.

We rode 35 miles over to Lawrence to watch the race on a big screen at Matt Gilhausen's house.

We rode 35 miles over to Lawrence to watch the race on a big screen at Matt Gilhausen’s house.

61 starters.  They could have used a few of those Master's that they ruled out of competition.

61 starters. They could have used a few of those Masters that they ruled out of competition.

Bromont was uninterested in watching the race.  He much prefers seeing it live.

Bromont was uninterested in watching the race. He much prefers seeing it live.


26 thoughts on “Cyclocross Nationals Analysis

  1. JJ Bonneville

    I was able to watch part of the womens elite race but had to go to work. thank you for the update on the mens race. both races seem good. for U23 race it was not even a race

  2. Kenny

    Kinda boring races once Powers and Compton got settled at the front. However, very cool to see Dan Timmerman get a top 5 on a steel bike. Nice work.

  3. Sal Ruibal

    Katie Compton doesn’t always make it look easy, but she finds a way to win. Good luck to her in Worlds.

  4. jeff

    That was a pretty exciting men’s elite from where I was sitting. Once Paige got gapped from flatting, I started playing with the stop watch on my phone. It was consistently 17sec most of the race, floated up to 20 about 3/4 the way through, and went down to just 12 during the last lap or two. If Powers had a mech or any real mistake, it would have probably been back together.

  5. Adam Myerson

    Main reason I sometimes pitted in the 2nd pit was the mud section before the second stairs, just before it, had the gluey-est mud. Sometimes my wheel wouldn’t turn, so that’s when I’d change. I changed 4 times I think, twice from each side, when the “mud shelf” affected my wheels or chain started skipping.

  6. Mile Rodose

    Regarding the announcing and audio. Audio good. Announcing not so much.

    The combination of towle, colt mccelwain and nicole duke was not focused on the race at hand. They tend to tell many stories, much about themselves and their knowledge and experiences in the sport…while they should simply be calling the race. It came across as egomaniacal, disjointed and not very informative.

    Personally, I would rather have the live-announcer feed from Richard Fries, combined with Tim Johnson as a race/color commentator. Tim could control Fries’ volume and comment on top of that to the TV audience and keep it sane and focused. Towle could be there too, I suppose. As long as he shuts up and Tim talks a bunch.

    Regarding coverage, it was definitely good. So nice to have reliable video! Thanks to all who were involved. The only must-have is a Rider status and position scrolling across the top of the screen. Like auto-racing. Doesn’t have to be real-time…or perfectly accurate from 20th place to 60th place. But to have the riders name and position being shown is a must-have. Perhaps with that information being displayed, towle and company could drone on about things, but we would know where our favorites are in the race!

    The coverage should be modeled after auto-racing. Rider numbers are assigned to racers for the entire year, maybe longer if on same team. Kits, bikes, helmets with racer name and number. Coverage could include racer photographs, state/country, sponsor names, bike model. To be used as an easy way to announce and identify riders as they are called up…or for reference during the race.

    Starting grid with names of riders….visual aid. Pits with team names and rider names. Pits assigned at beginning of year, or from current point standings. A simple team and rider tag can be applied to the stalls.

    Scrolling rider positions and other information.

    So much to look forward to as broadcasting online becomes more widespread, competetive and cost-efficient!

    The coverage is very much appreciated…we want more and better!

  7. Mike Rodose

    Steve, Adam, others..

    U23 race. Did you see Curtis White choose to run the entire length of the pits after shouldering his new bike from his pit position?

    He went from 1st to 4th in that move. Plus he lost all momentum…probably cost him an additional seven seconds.

    It didn’t look that mucky in that pit. Was it? Did running make any sense? Maybe from last pit positions?

  8. Mike Rodose

    If coverage could show more than just the top 5 riders, then it would be less boring.

    Showing battles and groups deeper into the field helps everyone, Announcers included. Hell, adam myerson is a great example in yesterdays race. He’s a fan favorite, but you could barely get glimpses! Where he places is less important to most of his fans than being able to watch him and if the camera isn’t on him, a simple race position update would be great.

    Think about it. Tristan Uhl…disastrous start, TX rider, SSCX 4th. He deserved to be noticed. Never once mentioned Cody Kaiser after his initial mechanical…although Cody battled to 26th. Who knew?

    A number of racers went down, tangling Krughoff and others. Who specifically went down? Come from behind stories, but who knew?

    Timmerman beat Hyde….not sure how or where exactly. Zach, Page, Lindine have flats. Race-changing. Who knew?

    I love having the event live-streamed. But man, it has so much room for improvement that could change the whole thing. Basic ones.

    The key is to marry cyclocross with broadcast to achieve mutual growth.

  9. Mike Rodose

    Wow. Brutal on the pavement mostly, I assume. Sorry to hear of this bad luck. That makes for a ridiculously hard race!

  10. Levi

    “A fan favorite”. You gotta be shitting me! That old, slow, king of all hipster douche bags has been punched by more bike racers in history. There’s a reason for that. It’s just all the little meak wierdos that worship him. Anyone that’s ever raced next to him knows the real deal. On the bike, he’s an entitled, pompous, angry asshole. Just ask Tilly.

  11. Sean YD

    Part of the problem with the lack of information for the TV broadcast was a lack of information being fed to them. If they could see the electronic scoring on a monitor, they could more easily mention rider positions and better call the action.

  12. Bill V

    After last weekend’s stupidity hopefully there’s a lull until the annual bullshit happens again at Athens Twilight. Maybe someone will get killed this year.

  13. Steve Tilford Post author

    Adam-That is good information. I was wondering how clogged up it was getting.

    You got a pretty great start and were riding pretty close to Troy Wells early. Glad you had a satisfying race. Coming back from injury is slow, but can be rewarding.

  14. Gregg Germer

    I worked the pit for the first race of the day, Junior Men 15/16 and then also the last race of the day for the Elite Men. The mud was SUPER thick at the start of the day, but once the course lines were made, mud got more managable (read, not every half lap for pitting). The reason man pitted on the 2nd pit was you could take a bike late in the pit and run it around the corner, which was way faster than riding it. Several could also run the section right after much faster than riding depending on their run. But as Adam said, it was more about pitting when your bike get’s to that gummed up point and then picking the pit that’s next.

    The flat did affect Page, but the course on Sunday would have suited his skillset more than Powers, but they raced the same race, Powers rode flawless (pitted on the 2nd pit at least twice that I saw, but I was busy with washing a lot) and had total focus on his race. They both rode well and Power was the best on the day.

    Flats seemed to affect some riders, but it wasn’t huge for most. I saw one guy with two front flats which put him out of the race with no spare wheels in the pit. Page flatted, but was lucky to be nearish to the pit when it happened. Otherwise it seemed most survived flat free.


  15. Bolas Azules

    Your coverage missed the two most important items – how are the trees? And – how was the USA Cycling press conference asking for the riders to be compensated and closing by telling the City of Austin that they are now banned from hosting any sanctioned events?

  16. Touriste-Routier

    All this is very easy. No problem, all it takes is money. Oh, wait, this is cycling, and everyone wants it for free.

  17. Rob P

    I was right next to Greg (see below) and was in the pit for both junior races and the U23 race. During the pre-ride the straight after pit 2 was so peanut buttery that nothing would spin once riders went through that section. This seemed to affect the younger juniors and slower riders more than those riding faster ( saw one poor kid off and pushing with his rear wheel dragging through the mud). We had our best running juniors running that stretch early in the race, but switched as things firmed up.

    We also pitted often to lighten bikes during all the running sections. Our lighter / less strong riders noticed a significant difference.

  18. Adam Myerson

    No flats for me, but I did ride slightly higher pressure than I wanted to because of the hidden rocks under the mud. I ran 20/22, and I would have liked to be as low as 16/18 on that course otherwise.


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