You might have noticed when filling out your fantasy team that one of the bigger names in U.S. women’s cyclocross, Elle Anderson, was missing from the list of pre-registered racers. While her fans held out hope that it was either an out-of-date roster or that Anderson was just aiming to register on-site and pull a Peter Sagan or Lars Boom-type start without a call-up, Anderson confirmed with Cyclocross Magazine that she indeed will be missing the chance to race for the Stars-and-Stripes in Reno.
Anderson’s absence from Reno is one that will likely impact the racing at the front of the Women’s race on Sunday. Anderson gave Katie Compton a scare with a fast start in Boulder in 2014 before finishing second and then last year she finished fourth after another fast start.
We reached out to ask Anderson about her decision to skip Reno Nationals, her season thus far and how she ups her game when American riders come over to Europe during the holidays.
Interview with Elle Anderson About Reno Nationals and More
Cyclocross Magazine: You’re missing Reno Nationals. What played into that decision?
Elle Anderson: The decision was a difficult one. From a big picture standpoint, it can be such a bummer that the world (and the U.S.) are so large and that it takes a lot of money, time and energy to travel those large distances.
My decision to miss Nationals was not made because I no longer care about the U.S. racing or that I have forgotten all my amazing friends and fans in the U.S., as that is definitely not the case! In the end, the price tag and the physical demands of travel and jet lag outweighed the benefits of staying in Belgium to rest, train and prepare for the remaining World Cups and World Championships.
CXM: You’ve lived in NorCal for a while now, and Nationals is finally coming to the region and yet fans and friends won’t see you on the start line. Did that make the decision tougher and how did they react when they heard?
EA: It definitely made the decision tougher, but in a few ways easier because I am all too familiar with the trip from Brussels to San Francisco and how heavy the nine-hour time difference can feel. For the last two Nationals, we only had a six-hour time difference from Europe (Hartford and Asheville) which I felt was a bit more manageable.
But it does pain my heart to disappoint my friends in the Bay Area and beyond. National Championships are such a special event on the calendar, with so much excitement and energy, and I definitely have a lot of “fear of missing out” going on. The good thing is that so far folks seem to be understanding of my situation and decision.
CXM: If you’re racing in Europe again next season, how do you think having Nationals in December will affect your decision to race there?
EA: The return to a December date for Nationals will be tough. I don’t know how the date will fall in relation to any series races (Superprestige or DVV) or World Cups, although it looks like it will precede the busy Christmas period in Belgium, which is always a highlight for me. As much as Nationals is a pinnacle to any cyclocross racer’s season, when push comes to shove, I just find that my performance goals for the Superprestige series, the World Cups and ultimately World Championships are more important to me.
It pains me that I have to make choices like this between the U.S. and Europe, but then again, if I wanted to avoid these kinds of situations I might have remained a U.S.-based racer! But if I have the chance, I would love to race in Louisville in December 2018. I’ll just have to wait and see.
CXM: How do you feel about your season so far? Looks like you’re on the upswing, with some great results during the Holidays.
EA: Results are only one aspect of the racing experience. More than results, I am grateful to feel like I’m “making it” in the European scene. This year more than any other, I feel like I am part of the community here, with an all-star cyclocross family, Belgian team and support structure. I feel even more integrated into both life and racing in Europe. I just need to learn more Dutch!
The days have passed where I feel like a foreigner, hyper-aware of my identity of an American in a sea of Euros. They always say that a happy racer is a fast racer and it has made me so happy to feel like I belong and to feel like I have a real, sustainable, cyclocross career in Europe. I can say from experience, it’s no easy feat.
But yes, I am also glad to have notched some solid results this season, like an 11th place at the World Cup in Denmark and a 6th place at the Superprestige Diegem, one of my all-time favorite races and courses. Winning a race in Igorre, Spain (my first Euro win) was also a highlight of my season so far.
CXM: How’s life on the new team?
EA: The Belgian team, Milwaukee – Alpha Motorhomes, is working out great. An added perk is that in the new year our title sponsor changed to an American company, Milwaukee Tools. It’s everything a team should be — nice people, good equipment and a positive environment. I’m lucky to have found such a great program to call home so far from my actual home.
CXM: A bunch of Americans were over there recently for the Christmas week of racing. Does that change the feeling of being at a race at all for you? Do you hang out with them at all?
EA: It’s been great to see all the Americans who have come to the races in Europe over the past month or two. It’s been especially great to see the individual riders, with little to no support from Team USA, come over and arrange all their own logistics and support. I’m impressed.
I usually feel an extra dose of competitiveness with my fellow American racers, so the only thing that changes for me when there are a bunch of Americans on the start line is that I race harder and faster.
CXM: What’s in store for the rest of the season and the offseason?
EA: I’m about to start some hard training that will hopefully set me up well for the final two rounds of the World Cup. I’m currently 12th in the World Cup overall standings, so it will be exciting to see how I end up. The competition this year in the World Cup series has been deeper than I’ve ever experienced, which is incredibly encouraging for women’s cyclocross. It also means that the battle for every position and every meter in the races is brutal. I love it.
After the World Cup and World Championships are finished, I have a full February of racing planned. Always a highlight, I look forward to my nearly-home-town race in Middelkerke to wrap up the Superprestige series. Once the season is completely over — it’s a long one! — I’m looking forward to visiting my parents in Vermont and heading back to California for the summer season. Then, the process of preparation starts again, and I’m already excited to keep this momentum going.
For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.