Believe it or not, it is almost time to turn the page on 2017. To close out the year, we are taking a look back at 13 of the stories that shaped the year. This list is by no means comprehensive and is loosely intended to be in chronological order, starting with the 2017 U.S. Cyclocross Nationals in Hartford.
It all started with a tweet. No, really, this is a positive cyclocross story, I promise.
The groundwork for the US Cup-CX series was laid in 2015 when Scott Tedro of Sho-Air International tweeted at Ryan Trebon. “Ryan, give me a call.”
— R Scott Tedro (@ScottTedro) October 21, 2015
Who knows what was said when Trebon and Tedro first chatted, but the conversation was obviously fruitful. A little over two years later, the successful first season of the US Cup-CX series would wrap up at the Derby City Cup in Louisville.
U.S. cyclocross has had several national series over the years, including the Saturn Cup and the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross. However, the U.S. has lacked a coherent series since the USGP folded after the 2012 season.
During his professional career, Trebon raced the USGP series for a number of years, but the last couple years of his career were during the post-USGP era. He had raced until both setups and is a firm believer a series is a must for U.S. cyclocross Since retiring, he has been a consistent advocate for bringing a national series back.
Trebon said the lack of a series created a void that has been hurting the sport. “The biggest difference I noticed the last few seasons without the USGP was the withdrawal of teams and sponsors from the U.S. cyclocross scene and a lack of media focus on key events throughout the season. We have great races and great racers we just need an avenue to let them showcase themselves and a place for sponsors to feel its worth investing their time and money into.”
Trebon’s cyclocross passion and experience and Tedro’s desire to get involved with the sport were a perfect match.
The new US Cup-CX series was announced in June of this year. Trebon made the decision to work with existing races instead of owning the series as the USGP did. The seven series races took place over four weekends, with both days scored nearly equally to encourage the top riders to race both days. Originally, the Women’s and Men’s series had a winner-take-all $10,000 prize.
Prior to this year, Tedro had primarily been involved with mountain biking, sponsoring the US Cup mountain bike series, and road racing with the Sho-Air Twenty20 team. Cyclocross Magazine talked to Tedro shortly after the new series was announced. We asked him how he ended up getting involved with cyclocross, “I thought cyclocross goes a lot better with mountain biking than road biking. I mean it’s a road bike or a hybrid road bike on a small mountain basically. It incorporates the best of both worlds I thought.”
The US Cup-CX series racing started at the end of September at the KMC Cross Fest in Connecticut. The fast course at KMC led to exciting finishes and the racing the next week at Charm City was equally heated. The stars of the first two weeks were Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) and Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing), but it was clear all the racers were giving everything they had to the series.
Stephen Hyde described the racing as “off the chain.”
— Stephen T. Hyde (@stephenthyde) October 9, 2017
We spoke with Hyde, Ortenblad and Kerry Werner (Kona Factory Racing) about the first month of U.S. racing, and they all agreed the racing was exciting for everyone involved. Oh, and Kerry Werner called Hyde “Ginger Joe Dirt,” which will hopefully catch on with the Belgian TV commentators in due time.
Trebon and Tedro took note of how intense the racing was as well. After Charm City in early October, the two announced they wanted to expand the payouts to go three deep. To do this, they proposed using a GoFundMe, with Tedro matching up to $7,500 of contributions. Fundraising started slowly, but it picked up as the last two weekends of racing in Cincinnati and Louisville approached. Even Lance Armstrong donated $1,000.
The new US Cup-CX series was not without its share of intrigue on the course as well. Ortenblad entered the Cincinnati weekend as the Men’s series leader, but two bad races at Devou and Harbin left him scrambling to finish third in the series. An interview with Ortendblad we did after the Derby City Cup weekend highlighted the impact the series can have on U.S. racing.
“It just sucks,” he said. “There’s nothing more beyond that. If it was just a title, it’s like, it’s a title. There was good money, and for a privateer program like mine, I’m not really paying myself a massive salary, so that would have been nice.”
After struggling with illness earlier in the season, Hyde came alive at Cincinnati and Derby City to win three straight races and win the overall series. Werner finished second and Ortenblad recovered with a solid weekend in Louisville to take third.
On the Women’s side, the story was the consistency of Keough. Keough won four of the seven series races and never finished off the podium. Her reward was the $12,500 prize given to the winner. Emma White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) finished second and Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) third.
I chatted with Trebon after the Derby City Cup. He said the series exceeded his expectations.
“I think it went better. I was really proud and happy with how well the races went and how well the promoters did with the venues. The setup and the look and feel of things and also the reception from the riders, because ultimately we need their support to grow it. We can’t do it without them being here. People have seemed to get behind it, and it was great. The look and feel of the events were top-notch and the racing was fantastic. The men and the women put up every weekend, both days, and raced their asses off, so my hat’s off to them. They’re what made the series good.”
During that interview, Trebon said he is already planning for year two of the US Cup-CX series. After witnessing the intensity of the series racing first-hand, we are excited to see where the series goes in 2018. We have seen the challenges previous series have had maintaining their momentum, so we are cautiously optimistic about the future of the US Cup-CX.
2017 Year in Review