Buildup to Biltmore
America’s top cyclocross racers battle for titles this weekend at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships on the grounds of one of the nation’s largest and most iconic homes – the Biltmore Estates in Ashville, N.C. Here are some names and storylines to watch:
Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) is among a select few poised to challenge many-time champ Katie Compton. Antonneau, with multiple national championships already, scored an impressive second place in October at the Valkenburg World Cup. Nicknamed “Little Badger,” she thrives on tough courses. She finished second at U.S. Nationals a year ago. Rachel Lloyd (Cal-Giant/Specialized), who won bronze in 2015, is another top contender. After spending last season in Belgium, Elle Anderson (SRAM-Strava) took an extended break over the summer to recharge for the season. She showed good form with an eighth place New Year’s Day at the BPost Bank Trophy race in Baal, Belgium. Meredith Miller (Noosa Pro Cyclocross) also recently returned from Europe, where she placed 17th at the recent Superprestige-Diegem. Emily Kachorek (Squid Bikes) is another SRAM-supported rider to watch.
Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus), the defending champion, remains the nation’s top Elite Men’s racer. Powers started the season strong with sixth place, his best ever UCI World Cup result, at CrossVegas. His recent trip to Europe also proved fruitful, with a solid 16th at the Zolder World Cup. No doubt, Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) is the discovery of the American ’cross scene this year. Supported by Powers as part of the JAM Fund Cycling Team, Hyde scored notable results including back-to-back victories at the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Ky. Hyde also held his own against the world’s best, including a 23rd place at last month’s Zolder World Cup. Logan Owen (Cal Giant/Specialized) – a top U23 road racer who’s also collected a long string of Junior and U23 cyclocross national titles – has battled for podium spots and victory with the Elites throughout the season. Others to watch include veteran Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), who’s been battling injuries, as well as Allen Krughoff (Noosa Pro Cyclocross), Yannick Eckmann (Cal Giant/Specialized), and Cody Kaiser (Lange Twins Winery p/b Specialized).
Favorites include Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) and Tobin Ortenblad (Cal Giant/Specialized).
Emma White (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld) is a favorite. Twenty16 Professional Cycling is a stalwart for rider development. The team has two riders, sisters Allison and Hannah Arensman, also are among riders to watch at the Biltmore.
What They’re Riding
Most of these athletes will line up at the Biltmore riding SRAM Force 1 with HydroR hydraulic disc brakes. Specific setups vary with the course and conditions, but athletes often find a setup they stick with most of the time. For Jeremy Powers, it’s a Force 1 44-tooth X-SYNC chainring paired with an 11-32 cassette. Stephen Hyde typically runs a 42 tooth chainring with an 11-28. For Elle Anderson, the choice is usually a 42-tooth chainring with an 11-32, although for courses with steep hills she’ll opt for a 40-tooth front ring.
All photos © Wil Matthews Photo