Cyclocross 101

Is starting position important?
Because of the short nature of the races and the narrow width of the course (three meters) in some sections, a good start is important. Starting position at the national championships is determined by a number of factors, including the previous year's national championship result, past performances at the national championships and order of registration.

Starters are assigned to spots in a grid that is eight lanes wide. Once the riders have settled into their starting positions, the race officials announce that the start will be within the next 30 seconds. Riders do not know exactly when the whistle will be blown.

How popular is the sport?
Cyclocross is the fastest growing segment of bicycle racing in the United States, with small race series all over the country, a Gran Prix (USGP) series covering both coasts and the Midwest, and the US National Championships, which moves around the country every two years. The sport's governing worldwide organization, the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), has targeted the U.S. for expansion of the sport. This year, Americans won three silver medals at the World Cyclocross Championships for the first time.

What is the "Tour de France" of cyclocross?
Cyclocross does not have a signature event like the Tour de France is to road racing. Each country's national championships—such as the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships—are generally considered the most prestigious on a domestic level. Belgium is the biggest hot spot on the world cyclocross stage, bringing out hundreds of thousands of spectators and airing races on television.

Who are some of the top racers in U.S. cyclocross?   
In the women's elite division, riders to watch include: Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colorado), three-time U.S. Cyclocross Champion and silver medalist at the 2007 World Championship; Georgia Gould (Ketchum, Idaho), U.S. Mountain Bike Champion and second overall in the 2006 United States Grand Prix (USGP) series; Kerry Barnholt (Boulder, Colorado) third-place finisher at the national championship in 2006.

On the elite men's side, the names to know are Jonathan Page (Tilton, New Hampshire), three-time U.S. Cyclocross Champion and silver medalist at the 2007 World Championships; Todd Wells (Durango, Colorado), two-time U.S. Cyclocross Champion; Jesse Anthony (Beverly, Massachusetts), six-time U-23 U.S. Cyclocross Champion; Ryan Trebon (Ventura, California), 2006 U.S. Cyclocross Champion; Tim Johnson (Middleton, Massachusetts), 1999 U-23 US Cyclocross Champion and bronze medalist at the 1999 World Championships; Barry Wicks (Santa Cruz, California), second overall in the 2006 USGP series.

Has Kansas City ever hosted a cyclocross race of this magnitude?
In 2000, the USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships were held in Stoll Park in Overland Park, Kansas. Conditions were brutal, with winds gusting to more than 40 miles an hour, temperatures in the single digits and an already snow-packed course turned to ice due to the frigid conditions. Since then, Kansas City has hosted several cyclocross race series every winter.


For more on the 2007 USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships in Kansas City, including schedules, spectator information, race updates and photos, visit www.kccrossnationals.com. The championships will return to Kansas City December 11 through 14, 2008.

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    •A Cyclocross Discussion With Pete Webber

 

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