Three days have passed since Nationals, and riders have made their way back home to either cozy up to the off-season or start building up for the World Championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. Now that we have had time to sift through all the information and photos we took at Austin, we have the opportunity to build upon the brief race report with contributions from Ken Lundgren. We’ve included interviews, detailed lap reports and position changes, and the newest photos from the event. A Full 2015 Cyclocross National Championships Women’s Race Report is also updated, where Compton pulls ahead late in the first lap to take charge of the race.
As Friday’s dry, fast conditions gave way to Saturday’s mudfest, many spectators around the course were left wondering who would have the advantage in the Men’s Elite Race.
When the races were postponed on Sunday, many were left wondering if Jonathan Page (XcelLED/Fuji) and Zach McDonald (Cyclocross Project) were getting the rawest end of the deal. Both riders are well known for their ability to handle all sorts of technical features, with McDonald having extensive experience in Downhill racing and Page riding in the toughest European conditions just as often as he rides in the United States. After all, a dry power course was sure to favor Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) and Danny Summerhill (UCI PCT/WPT: UnitedHealthcare).
Yet Monday arrived, and while the course wasn’t full of the slippery mud of the weekend, it was still dominated by a tacky peanut butter mud with bits and pieces of its wetter brethren. After the Junior races finished, complete with broken derailleur hangers and seized wheels, the message was clear: the winner would need to be equipped with plenty of technical know-how.
Many top riders had a good deal to prove on the day. Powers was a favorite, but many of his detractors pointed to the challenging technical aspects of the course, believing that Zilker was far from the power courses that Powers performs so well on. He had a title to defend, and as he would later tell us in a post-race interview, he had spent his last season building up to his win at the 2014 National Championship in Boulder, whereas this year had been non-stop racing between the United States and Europe. By winning three titles, Powers could cement his legacy as the King of American ’Cross, and matching Tim Johnson in championship wins.
Page also had his own reasons for wanting the win. He had lost his title to Powers the year before, and reclaiming the jersey meant he would be the American champion an astonishing five times. With the course in its run-heavy condition, there were also high expectations on the Fuji rider.
With plenty of spots left to fill on the World’s squad, all of the riders were hungry for a great result. Finishing in the top three would provide the USAC committee with plenty of motivation to send that rider to the Czech Republic, while having a mediocre race would guarantee an early off-season. It’s also worth noting that this was the first year where the USAC was providing stringent changes to the eligibility requirements for elite riders: either a top 90 in the Pro CX Standings or a UCI point got riders entry. This meant that almost every rider who showed up to the start line had proven himself to be a serious contender earlier in the year.
Ryan Trebon (Cannondale b/p Cyclocrossworld), who had been struggling this season after an early injury he sustained while racing a local course in September, powered immediately forward for the holeshot, leading the race into the dirt corners. Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo Cycling Team) also launched off the line with Powers close behind.
Allen Krughoff (Noosa Professional Cyclocross) was caught up in a mid-pack crash late in the straightaway. Krughoff had been one of the forerunners early in the season, and was likely hoping for a good result after the lackluster performance in the second half of his cyclocross schedule. Local favorite Tristan Uhl (ATC Racing) needed to dismount and restart his momentum. Of all the racers, Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins), was hit the hardest by the crash, and while he wasn’t seriously injured, he was forced to reinstall his rear wheel and run his bike early on.