The USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships are taking place in Hartford, Connecticut, this weekend. This is the same venue as the 2017 championship event, which was won by Stephen Hyde and Katie Compton in the elite categories.
Between the age group and elite categories, there will be 34 national titles on offer in total, and all races will be streamed live.
The Riverside Park venue has seen a lot of cyclocross racing over the years, including the 2017 national championships. For this year’s championship event, the windy 2.2-mile course will feature a newly added sandpit, which riders will pass through twice per lap.
Other features include stairs and a flyover.
Race time varies per category. The junior and U23 categories will race for 40 minutes. The Elite women and U23 men will lap around the course for 50 minutes and finally, the elite men will complete a full hour of racing.
The Women’s Race:
In the women’s race, all eyes will be on two-time consecutive champion Clara Honsinger. The 25-year-old Oregonian changed the face of American cyclocross when she managed to interrupt legendary rider Katie Compton's 15-year national champion winning streak in December 2019.
She then went on to make a mark on the European cyclocross circuit as well with two breakout seasons in the World Cup, X2O Trophy and Superprestige series. Her stars-and-stripes skinsuit has become a common sight as she consistently places in the Top 10 and even a few podium spots in recent seasons.
The 2022 season has looked a little different for Honsinger, who started the 'cross season late after completing her first season on the WorldTour with the EF Education-TIBCO-SVB road team.
Honsinger’s cyclocross team, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld, folded before the start of the cyclocross season, but the EF Education program stepped up, forming a cyclocross program to support Honsinger as well as new signee Zoë Backstedt.
After netting a few victories on the domestic circuit, Honsinger started her European campaign in Nommay with two victories at the C2 level.
Her performances at World Cups and in the X2O Trophy series have been consistent with top-10 placings and a season-best fourth place at the Koppenbergcross, a race she won in 2021.
She’s the top favorites going into the national championships race but she’ll be met with an unfamiliar field.
"It's a little bit of a mystery because I've been over in Europe while a lot of the US riders have been racing in North America, so I don't know how fast they are, how they're riding their bikes. It's a little bit scary to go into this race and have no kind of race background with them," Honsinger told Cyclingnews.
"I feel that I'm regarded as the favourite having won this race and consistently being the top US rider. So to do well is really important to me.”
Competition will surely come from last year’s runner-up and current Pan American Cyclocross champion, Raylyn Nuss, as well as the likes of Sunny Gilbert, Hannah Arensman and Austin Killips.
The Men’s Race
In the men’s race, we’re looking forward to another fierce battle between defending champion Eric Brunner and last year's runner-up Curtis White.
After a stellar 2021 season, Brunner’s performance has proved consistent again this year. He won his second consecutive Pan American Cyclocross Championship title and seems to be enjoying a bit of a winning streak at the moment, having gone unbeaten for six races in a row, including both days of racing at the Really Rad Festival and the Northampton International Cyclocross UCI C2 events.
At every one of those races, Curtis White was nipping at Brunner’s heel, and ultimately having to settle with second place.
At 27 years of age, White is an experienced veteran in the US domestic cyclocross scene with 35 UCI victories to his name including three Pan-American titles. He has represented the U.S. at nine World Championships, including the 2022 edition in January where he finished in 13th place. The elite national title keeps eluding him though. After three consecutive silver medals, he’ll surely be fired up and ready to come out ahead in Hartford.
How to Watch
FloBikes will air all the races live beginning with the Masters on Friday, Dec. 9, through to Sunday, Dec. 11.
Sunday Schedule in local tome EST (GMT-5):
8:00 a.m. Juniors Men 17-18
8:55 a.m. Juniors Women 17-18
9:50 a.m. U23 Women
11:05 a.m U23 Men
12:35 p.m. Elite women
2:30 p.m. Elite Men
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