Cross Nationals – Pretty Severe Conditions

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Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford, CT yesterday was epic.  The course decided much of the race. Either you had the ability to ride the course or you didn’t.  It was close to singletrack much of the way.

I think the course was too severe the whole week.  From unrideable mud to frozen footsteps, you want a cross race to be decided by ability.  Not that, in the end, at least at the Elite level, it wasn’t.  Both in the Elite men’s and women’s races, the pre-race favorites won their respective events.

So the favorites won.  But riders that maybe could have had an opportunity to shine, didn’t get that chance because the starts of these races were so important.

Katie Compton rode a very good race.  She had a little trouble everyone once and awhile, but all and all, she rode a very good race for the conditions.  She was the best rider in the race.

Amanda Miller finished 2nd and rode super also.  She is very comfortable in harsh conditions and her bike handling skills are excellent.  Very deserving result for someone that has put in her time this year.

The men’s race, well that was interesting.  Maybe not the final result, but the last bit. Stephen Hyde was good.  He got the hole shot and then proceeded to make errors so that he was well back.  Since the start went up a long singletrack dismount, any error was exaggerated.  It was a little bit of carnage there the first lap.

But, he did the same thing at the World Cup in Iowa City and rode back to a top ten finish,  so I figured it was just a matter of patience before he did that.  He got to the front and immediately slid out on a off-camber descending corner.  He kept his cool and started riding consistently fast.

The crazy thing about the race was the last bit.  Hyde had a low front tire and somewhere on the last hill, just before the finish, tore his rear derailleur off his bike. So he came onto the finish stretch, not able to ride.  He coasted a bit and then got off his bike and walked to the line.  Jimmy Driscoll was closing fast.  If the line would have been 50 meter further down the stretch, the results would have been different.  I’m glad it wasn’t.  Pretty unusual finish, to say the least.

Jamie rode an excellent race, but Stephen Hyde deserved to win.  I did a short post on him after the World Cup in Iowa.  He is the real deal.

Jonathan Page finished 7th and Todd Wells 8th.  Glad to see a couple of the guys I who’ve been around for awhile, have top 10 finishes.

The whole races are on the video on yesterday’s post.  If you want to see how close the end of the men’s race, click here for a twitter video.  

The season is over for the majority of riders, but not all. There are still a few races left before the World Championships.

Amanda riding this section super. It doesn’t look so tricky, but was.

Katie winning.

RIght after the race, 1st and 2nd hug. Katie seemed pretty happy.

Right after Stephen Hyde got back into the lead, he bobbled.

The finish. Notice his rear derailleur hanging. Jamie was just behind. Crazy finish.

Stephen Hyde’s bike at the finish.





17 thoughts on “Cross Nationals – Pretty Severe Conditions

  1. Jim

    I got to know Stephen when he first rode for Astellas and stayed with us.
    The two of us rode in the dark on roads we didn’t know and had to call for a ride when it got kind of sketchy.
    He seemed to be a real talent even then but who knew he was this good!
    I was super happy to watch him take his title yesterday even though it ended up being closer than I expected.
    He was nice guy then and I know it hasn’t changed.
    I hope he has a great year as National Champ.

  2. Taman

    Steve, about your second paragraph. Since you’ve raced a number of CX Nats what is your opinion concerning race courses, locations, time of year etc when it comes to US CX nats.

  3. Steve Tilford Post author

    Tman – That is a good topic for its own post. SInce cross has become popular the last 15 years or so, the weather hasn’t really cooperated nicely those days that the races have been held. Take Kansas City for instance. The normal high there was supposed to be in the mid 40’s. It was a weather disaster. Madison, on the other hand, and maybe even Hartford, the weather was probably closer to normal. I would like the races to be moved back to December. Training through the holidays doesn’t sit well for the majority of participants. There were barely over 40 guys in the elite race. And less than 40 in the women’s elite. So, the January dates are important to less than 100 people out of what I heard was 2000 total riders. Seems kind of out of whack.

  4. KrakatoaEastofJava

    It would seem that courses and conditions are quite often complained about by the riders. Sometimes people complain that they feel that the courses have been designed to defeat them. It seems that in this sport, it is very difficult to guarantee any kind of “consistent racing experience” to the racers. And as such, it seems unfair for racers to expect some kind of “consistent racing experience” from the promoters. IE, should a “very fit” Jeremy Powers be able to expect a victory each year? Or should it be normal for courses to sometimes favor greatly varying racing styles? Perhaps riders we usually never hear of before can even become US national champs?

    It’s funny, I’ve taken notice before, but this whole “ripped-off-rear-derailer” thing. It seems to have become rather commonplace, or perhaps it’s just what happens when a top-level rider let sit all hang out like this. My own opinion: If you can fully expect to have such an expensive component literally torn off the bike (perhaps even tearing-off part of the bike WITH it), it’s a problem. Either the bikes can’t handle being ridden this way very well, or this sport is way fucked-up. Hint: I’ve never ridden cross for just that reason. I can’t see myself destroying a perfectly good bike.

  5. euro

    I’ve tried to become a fan of CX. Just doesn’t do it for me. Slow riding, in the mud, too many crashes, dull.

  6. Brady Murphy

    The best comment that summed up the weekend was from Jr 15-16 winner Nick Carter, who said something like , “I’m from Minnesota, we’re used to conditions much worse than this”.

    What I like about cx is that there are so many skill levels to work on. Power and speed are just a couple of them. On a day like this, the best rider combines all they’ve leaned plus a little luck

  7. RB

    I felt the same, until I started racing. It is the purest form of racing out there. Very little team strategy. Very little drafting. No sitting in, waiting for a sprint or for a teammate to help. May the best rider (on any given day) win. If you don’t have it, you’ll get beat, and sometimes badly. There is no hiding.

  8. conrad

    “You want a cross race to be decided by ability”. The ability to ride well in difficult conditions is just as much part of your cyclocross ability as anything else. I was at the USGP in bend a few years ago when it was below zero and the course was all snow and ice. Tim Johnson and Geoff Kabush took first and second against a stacked field. Because they are good in tough conditions! It was good racing. That being said, the best likelihood of normal cyclocross conditions in mid January is probably Tacoma/steilacoom, Portland Oregon or northern California. Just saying, usac, because the weather gods seem to hate you.

  9. conrad

    Ripping derailleurs off is fairly common in really heavy conditions. What’s funny is that most racers don’t care and are lining up to purchase 500 dollar Di2 units. Personally, I like to race singlespeed in those conditions.

  10. mike crum

    this sport looks pretty cool.. I may try it out next fall. got me a good new it job… moving to Houston texas next month…at least the weather will be better there than here… is there cyclecross there? I haven’t even checked..

  11. Steve Tilford Post author

    mike – Yep, there are some good races in Houston for cross. I think there is a weekly series. Plus, Texas had 4 UCI races this year. Not guaranteed that is going to be the case next year, but Dallas isn’t that far from Houston and there is lots of racing there.

  12. ml

    I respectfully disagree. The course was a very worthy of a Nat Champs. Obviously the conditions were harsh all week, but I believe that the podiums every day were filled with pre-race favorites. And, many were not leading after the first attempt up BB hill, either because they started from higher row no. (Hines), bobbled or, chose the wrong line on the hill. The best line on the hill was debated all week. It may have looked like single track on the videos, but there was much passing going on in several places on the course, including the stretches in the woods. As you know, cross is just as much a winter sport as a fall sport.

    Missed not having you there and hope you’re back next year stronger than evah!!

  13. JimW

    As a mechanic of 15 years I have seen derailleur hangers get smaller and thinner every year. What you find on the Cannondales are the least amount of material possible used on the hanger. Worst place to save weight. A poorly timed heavy shift is now enough to bend one of these.
    About half of the current bicycles that went through my stand this season needed alignment or replacement of the hanger.
    The bicycle industry has a habit of making poor decisions in terms of weight & durability.

  14. nancy

    they make good decision based on the fact that replacement parts bring money. customer, they probably don’t care.

  15. Evan

    not sure it’s the greatest advertisement for cannondale when the victory picture includes a broken bike


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