Bold Predictions for the 2014 US Cyclocross Championships...Why Not?

6:55 AM

I've got no pictures for this year's CX Nats, so cute kitty pic for you!
I will admit this past week has been difficult, what with the windchills dropping into the -40 degree range.  But as the temperatures inched above the freezing mark toward the end of the week I realized I was still a bit down because of where I wasn’t - Boulder, Colorado at the US CX Championships.  It didn’t help that Facebook friends who made the trip were posting awesome pictures of a muddy, snowy, technical course.

Oh, it just looks so fun!

Aside [internal grumbling]: Stupid having to have a job...pay bills...can't drop everything to go on a mid-winter road trip to the coolest place on the planet...grumble, grumble, grumble.  

Ok, so I can't be there.  It is nice that I will be able to watch the elite races stream live through the USAC site.  And if I can't roll around on the course, at least I can make some bold predictions for the big races.


Elite Women
Really, we all know it isn't going to be a contest for first place.  Katie Compton is having an amazing season with five World Cup wins and an overall number one ranking.  Baring a massive mechanical Katie will be picking up her tenth title in Boulder.  But who will come in second?


It may be the massive fan-girl in me talking, but I think this could be a great year for Georgia Gould.  She hasn't raced much cross this year - taking a well-deserved break after moving directly from her Olympic year mountain bike season to the US hosted World Championship CX season to a disappointing 2013 mountain bike season.  She has stepped out into a couple of cross races, and looked comfortable and confident.  A race that is close to her home and on sketchy ground could play into her favor.


Elle Anderson is also one to watch for a podium spot.  I first saw her race back in Waterloo at the Trek CX Cup, and she raced smoothly away from the field.  She has picked up several top spots this year, including both days at Gloucester, and spent some time racing with the Euros this past December.  She is definitely an exciting possibility for the podium in Boulder.


Other contenders?  Kaitlin Antonneau may not have had a spectacular domestic season, but her results in Europe were excellent with two top-10 finishes in World Cup competition.  Meredith Miller continues to be a strong racer after her final season of road, and Crystal Anthony has been hanging around the podium all season long.  But, c’mon, it’s time to get down to some real predictions:


Women’s Elite:
1) Katie Compton
2) Elle Anderson
3) Georgia Gould


Elite Men
I will admit, I’m not as interested in the elite men.  I’ve watched several of their races and they always seem to run the same way: a few guys will hang off the front in the 5-15 second range, things might shift a bit throughout the 60 minute race, but finally someone will attack with 1-2 laps to go and win by about 20 seconds.  I actually believe the men’s race would be more interesting if they cut it down to a 45 minute race...  


As far as favorites you have to place Jeremy Powers somewhere on the podium.  He’s got a string of wins this year, and will definitely take the top spot if the race goes like the one I described above.  Powers does well when the field beats itself up throughout the race, as he can drop everyone with a late attack.


How do you beat Powers?  Attack early and establish a massive lead, like Tim Johnson did out at Descheutes or Jonathan Page did last year at Nationals.  I would love to see Tim Johnson don the stars and stripes jersey one more time, as he seems like he is the nicest professional athlete out there.  He is also having a stellar season with several wins beyond Descheutes.  


You can never count out Jonathan Page - the wild card because of his European racing schedule.  It is easy to forget that his string of mid-pack finishes is against the best crossers in the world.  And while Ryan Trebon doesn’t have too many wins this year, he is always close to the top.  Other contenders may include Zach McDonald and Jamie Driscoll...why not?


Men’s Elite:
1) Tim Johnson
2) Jeremy Powers
3) Ryan Trebon

[UPDATE]
Wow, I don't actually feel too stupid after my predictions! The women's race was amazing to watch - Elle Anderson going out with Katie Compton for the first lap or so was great to see. I love Katie, but it would be great if she had some more domestic competition. And the race for third - whew! I like Crystal Anthony, but I was definitely cheering for Meredith Miller to close down the gap.  

The men's race was also refreshingly exciting - props to Jeremy Powers for going out aggressive and taking it pole-to-pole. No one could argue that he isn't the rightful national champion. Sure, I would have liked Johnson to win, but he and Trebon also had excellent races to round out the podium.  

So, how did I do? Well, I did have six of the seven names right...that has to count for something. Sure, I only have two positions correctly placed, but still, a good set of predictions overall.


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