The 2019-2020 North American season kicks off this weekend in Virginia (see our preview) Last year, a new crop of North American riders made an impact on the North American scene. Jeremy Powers retired this year, which officially marked the end of an era. Towards the end of his career Powers handed off the proverbial baton to Stephen Hyde. Hyde begins this season as the top favorite, but we have several other riders that are worth keeping an eye on.
Despite having multiple setbacks last year, Hyde finished on a good note. He ended up with five victories, including the US National Championship. Hyde only competed in 19 races last year and did not finish four of them. He will be back to a full season of racing this year, which should benefit him. There’s only so much one can do in training, especially when it comes to cross. It will be great to see the stars and stripes at the front of the US races. Hyde should also have a stronger European campaign with more race days in the legs.
White had a somewhat of a breakout season last year, with 15 podium appearances and seven victories. He also ended up as the top American in the UCI rankings in 16th place. More importantly, White took home the Pan-American championship and went toe-to-toe with Stephen Hydae at nationals. White skipped racing the road this year to focus on cross. It will be interesting how this pays off. White was unable to crack the top ten in Europe last year, which is something that should change.
Werner had an incredible season last year. He ended the season with 17 podium finishes, including eight victories. For most of the season, he was the top ranked rider (based on UCI points) in the US. He did well in the earlier, US based, World Cups but dipped down a little bit in the European rounds. Werner was also one of the only Americans to stay in Europe and race through the end of February. Like last year, Werner is a podium threat and one of the favorites to win both Nationals and the Pan-American championships. It will be interesting to see how he does during the Kerstperiode and some of the other European races.
Hecht had a stand out season last year. He won the U23 Pan-American champion and didn’t finish outside the top 5 in North American races. He had eight victories in Elite races. As with previous years, Hecht continues to race on the road for the Aevolo team. He has had mixed results, with his best being second in the U23 time trial National Championships. This season will be his first season as a true elite rider as he moves out of the U23 ranks. With that said, he is a clear favorite in any North American race he starts. Last year he was so confident that he skipped U23 Nationals and raced for the Elite title. It paid off with a third place finish behind Hyde and White. With that kind of confidence and experience, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
The North American cross scene doesn’t off U23 races except at Nationals, the Pan-American championships, and the World Cups. So, like Hecht, Haidet raced mostly Elite races in North America. He often finished inside the top ten in the smaller C2 races and in larger races he finished inside the top 20. He did some races as a U23 but actually had poorer results than he did in the Elite ranks. However, he did win the U23 national championships. We expect Haidet to contend for the podium in the smaller North American races and gain experience from international races.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments below.