In recent years, the Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld team roster has not changed much at the Elite level. Kaitie Keough, Curtis White, Emma White and Stephen Hyde have worn the team’s trademark green kit onto podiums across the U.S. and Europe. This year, however, with Emma White’s departure from cyclocross, the team had its first Elite opening in a while.
One of the athletes looking for a new home for the 2018/19 cyclocross season was Spencer Petrov, who had a standout year racing in the Elite ranks for the now-defunct Aspire Racing team. When we talked to Petrov earlier this year, he said he was looking for the right fit for continuing his promising young career this year.
The most successful cyclocross team in the U.S. had a spot to fill and one of the top young talents in the U.S. needed a new home. Sounds like a perfect match.
Turns out, it was. Petrov signed with the Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld team for the 2018/19 season to join Keough, White and Hyde on the team’s Elite roster.
“There were a good number of riders we thought about, but it came down to Spencer,” team director Stu Thorne said about his team’s new rider. “I’ve known him for a while and watched him race in the U.S. and in Europe. He’s a great kid. He’s also shown his face at the front of a good number of Elite races and he’s still young.”
One thing that is immediately evident from watching Petrov race cyclocross is he leaves everything he has out on the course. Thorne said his racing style was hard not to notice. “I saw him in Louisville a couple of years ago when it was his first year as a U23. He was mixing it up with the likes of Powers, Hyde, White and a host of others. He took some chances and did pretty well. He showed that he has the determination and drive to be a top rider.”
Emma White was a mainstay in the Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld program for a number of years. Although she will be gone from ’cross, Thorne was quick to recognize her contributions to the team. “First thing I’d like to say is ‘thank you’ to Emma for being a part of the team these past few years,” Thorne said. “We have been pretty quiet over the spring and summer with announcements so I wanted to acknowledge Emma and wish her the best in her future racing endeavors. We will miss her!”
The Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld team is not limited to its Elite roster. Thorne also maintains a development team that helps young athletes travel to big UCI races across the country and gain knowledge from the team’s Elite athletes. Last year’s team included Ruby West, who won the Vittoria series, and Magnus Sheffield, who dominated the Junior 15-16 race at Reno Nationals.
Sheffield is back with the program in 2018, as are Alex Morton, Sam Noel, Cooper Willsey and Harrison White. West raced mountain bikes with Ten Speed Hero and will not be back with the team this year.
The returnees are joined by two of the top young stars in U.S. cyclocross. Lizzy Gunsalus of Massachusetts won Junior cyclocross national championships in 2015 and 2017 and is considered one of the top young female riders in the country. At racing age 16, she will be eligible for the first Junior 17-18 Women’s World Championships in 2020.
“Lizzy is awesome,” Thorne said. “Such a great kid and she certainly knows how to ride a bike. The new category at Worlds 2020 for Junior women is a target. If she stays on the trajectory that she has had the past few years, she will do well. The future is bright for Lizzy and if we can help her achieve her goals, then all is good.”
The other new member of the development team is Lane Maher. Maher had a memorable 2017/18 campaign capped by a fifth-place finish at the Junior race at the 2018 World Championships in Valkenburg-Limburg. Maher now enters the U23 ranks as a young rider to watch.
“Lane showed us all last year that he has what it takes to be a top rider,” Thorne said. “His ride at Worlds was incredible. It will be his first year as a U23, so much like Spencer and others, it’s a year of learning. I’m hopeful that he will pick up some tidbits from the guys on the Pro team—Hyde, Curtis and Spencer—and use those to his best of his ability.”
Thorne said the biggest change he expects—besides the new faces—is December Nationals, which will change things up for the Elite riders before Worlds. “With Nats being in December, it allows a solid block of Euro racing straight through Worlds,” Thorne said. “I’d be happy to see all this happen again and of course have some fun doing it. We’ve been doing this a long time and we have to keep an element of fun in all of it.”