The final UCI races of the North American season take place this week in Tacoma, Washington with the US National Championships. For those readers who are not based in the US, the National Championships are a weeklong event. The first set of races took place on Tuesday. National Championships for masters, juniors, single speed and collegiate categories take place all week, culminating with the UCI categories on Sunday. All in all, there will be nearly 30 non-UCI titles handed out.
On Sunday, titles will be given out in all the categories that the UCI currently recognizes. This includes the traditional categories for elite men, women, junior men, U23 men and U23 women. For the first time ever, there will be an individual race for the junior women. The US has offered titles for junior women, but they’re often mixed in with other categories.
We are going to predict all of Sunday’s UCI categories for the US National Championships. For full coverage of all the other categories, check out https://www.cxmagazine.com/. They’re on the ground all week and have race reports, highlights, etc. You can also check out https://www.youtube.com/cxhairs for videos throughout the weekend. Finally, there’s live coverage of all the racing this weekend on the USACycling YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/USACyclingOrg
The Pacific Northwest is known for its mud. Rainfall throughout the fall throughout the cyclocross season often leaves the ground soaked, turning the grass tracks into mud. The current condition of the course is very muddy, with two long run ups, some power sections, sand, and a few tricky descents. By the time racing kicks off on Sunday, the course should dry out a bit and things should be fast. It won’t be anywhere close to the slick conditions in Louisville last year that saw a lot of running.
In what has become a new tradition over the past few years, there are a few “pro only” sections of the course. Based on what we’ve seen, it will add an additional run up and off camber descents. It will also add a few other technical adverse camber sections to the track. With the combination of technical and power sections, this track allows a variety of riders to excel. There should be some small group racing and possibly a sprint finish. The run ups are long (20-30 seconds), so running will still play a factor. It promises to be a very exciting championship.
68 Junior Men will take to the start line Sunday morning. Nick Carter and Magnus Sheffield are two of the heavy favorites as they finished second and third last year. Alex Morton, who won in Louisville, aged out of the category and thus will not defend his title. Andrew Strohmeyer also comes in as a podium contender. He’s a second year junior who has finished on the podium in 11 out of the 13 UCI races he did this year. Of those 11, he has six victories. As with many of the younger categories, there’s always going to be a surprise or two, but we like these three riders.
- Andrew Strohmeyer
- Magnus Sheffield
- Nick Carter
In its first year as an official UCI category, 26 junior women will attack the track on Sunday. There have been five UCI Junior Women races this year, two of which were in North America. Obviously the results from Canadian Nationals are irrelevant, but 16 US women raced in the Pan-American Championships in early October. Madigan Munro (second at nats last year) dominated the competition with Lizzy Gunsalus and Lauren Zoerner finishing second and third.
All three of them have mixed it up in the elite ranks this season. Munro has had five top-ten finishes, but has raced the fewest UCI races. Gunsalus raced the most UCI races and picked up seven top tens. Zoerner raced a considerable amount as well, with two top-ten finishes.
- Madigan Munro
- Lizzy Gunsalus
- Lauren Zoerner
As with most age group categories, last year’s defending champion, Clara Honsinger has aged up and will not be in the race. Kaite Clouse enters as the favorite in the 15 rider field. She was the top American at the Pan-American Championships and finished second at nationals last year. Clouse is the top ranked U23 woman as well.
Behind Clouse, there are several women who can contend for the podium, and for victory. Hannah Arensman finished fifth last year and is the only other rider who finished in the top-five last year. Shannon Mallory, Turner Ramsay and Ellie Mitchell should also be in contention.
- Katie Clouse
- Hannah Arensman
- Ellie Mitchell
Like all the other age based categories on Sunday, last year’s winner will not be back to defend his title. Unfortunately, Spencer Petrov injured his knee and instead of racing, will be resting up and getting 100% healthy before next year. Petrov dominated the race last year, winning by over a minute. Brannan Fix, who finished second last year, is up with the Elite Men. This leaves Eric Brunner as the only rider in the field that finished on the podium last year.
Lane Maher, who is in his first year as a U23, is perhaps the favorite as he has had the best season of all the U23 riders. Sam Noel, Alex Morton and Caleb Swartz are a few of the names to watch on Sunday. There are nearly a half dozen riders who are capable of landing on the podium, those are just a few of the names we like.
- Lane Maher
- Eric Brunner
- Alex Morton
If you follow US cross, you know that every year the Elite Women’s race is all about “the streak”. Katie Compton has won 15 straight championships and looks poised to win another after spending the first half of the season in Europe. While Compton is the overwhelming favorite, there are a few riders that truly have a shot at ending the streak.
Like, Compton, Kaitlin Keough has engaged in a full European campaign this season. While her results haven’t been very consistent, she is often found battling for a top-five position at Europe’s biggest races. Clara Honsinger and Rebecca Fahringer are the top two domestic based Americans we think have a shot at the podium.
Both Honsinger and Fahringer have featured in our weekly “5 Things to Know” as they have been at the front of races all season. Head-to-head, Honsinger actually get’s the edge, but Fahringer has been on a tare this last half of the season. Not only are both riders capable of the podium, but like Keough, they’re also capable of winning.
- Kaite Compton
- Clara Honsinger
- Rebecca Fahringer
Like the Elite Women, the Elite Men’s race has been dominated by streaks over the past decade, albeit by more than on rider. Jeremy Powers won three straight titles from 2013 – 2015. Over the past three years, Stephen Hyde has won the national championship. No rider has ever won four straight and there are a handful of riders who would like to keep that trend, including his teammate, Curtis White.
Curtis White and Kerry Werner have battled back and forth all season, and despite Hyde’s status as the three-time defending champion, they come in as the favorites. In a head-to-head comparison, White and Werner are literally tied this season. They have both bettered each other 43 times.
Outside of Hyde, White and Werner, young guns Gage Hecht and Lance Haidet also have a shot at the podium. Perhaps the biggest “surprise” could come from Jamie Driscoll. The veteran cross rider seemingly came from nowhere to finish third at the Pan-American Championships. Driscoll has finished on the podium three times at nationals.
- Kerry Werner
- Curtis White
- Stephen Hyde
Who do you think is going to ride away with a National Championship? Let us know and join the conversation below.