Courses Revealed for 2012 Collegiate Road Nationals


USA Cycling has unveiled the courses for the 2012 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships, the crown jewel event in the 2011-12 collegiate cycling calendar. On tap for riders are a hilly 35km team time trial, a technical eight-corner criterium, and an exciting road race with something for everyone. Detailed information on the courses, as well as the event as a whole, can be found on the event page here.

We’ll post a race preview as the regular season draws to a close, with tips for who to watch from the conference directors, but in the meantime, here’s an outline of what to expect from each course.


Scenic Antelope Island is the site for Friday's TTT. Beware of the buffalo!
Scenic Antelope Island is the site for Friday's TTT. Beware of the buffalo!
The Team Time Trial course is set on beautiful Antelope Island, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. Home to bountiful wildlife and stunning views of the mainland, the island is reached by travelling across a seven mile causeway out to the island. In addition to the island’s buffalo and antelope, though, riders will have to work with and against gravity on the long 32km course.

The race will start out with a roller followed by a 1.1 mile, 3.7% climb to soften the legs from the gun. Staying together on the climb will be essential, as it is immediately followed by a long downhill with some small rollers back up along the way. After a series of rolling hills, the road climbs steadily toward the turnaround for 2.5 miles. Upon doing their about-face, riders will enjoy a rolling descent and then a long climb back up to the finish, which will be about one mile out from the start.

Expect slightly longer than usual finish times, as riders get acclimated to Ogden’s moderate elevation of 4,300 ft and work to stay together on all the climbs and descents.


Saturday's criterium will circle Ogden's Municipal Gardens. Photo courtesy
Saturday's criterium will circle Ogden's Municipal Gardens. Photo courtesy
Saturday’s criterium will take riders to the heart of Ogden, as the 1.6km, eight-corner course circles City Hall Park and the Ogden Amphitheater. With only 39ft of elevation gain per lap, the course should make up for the previous day’s climbs, but give a good burn on the slight uphill into the finish. A downtown national championship criterium on a Saturday afternoon should draw out plenty of spectators, giving riders the chance to show off in breakaways throughout the day.

The course starts out with a gentle uphill into a sweeping right-hand corner, followed by a series of turns that will keep riders on their toes, a big change from 2010’s four corner capital criterium and 2011’s rolling research park crit. Look for breakaway attempts coming out of each of the course’s tighter corners and false flats. The past two years have only seen one collegiate national championship criterium won from a breakaway (2011 Division I Men), but maybe 2012 could see another one get away and stick.

Road Race

The final day of racing could also be the most exciting, as the road race course (men's here, women's here) around Pineview Reservoir has a little something for everyone. Breakaway
A group from the 2011 Tour of Utah alongside Pineview Reservoir.
A group from the 2011 Tour of Utah alongside Pineview Reservoir.
specialist? Check. Climber? Check. Descender? Check. This could be anyone’s big day.

The race will start on the north shore of the Pineview Reservoir in Ogden Valley, just east of the mountains above Ogden, and circle the reservoir clockwise. The men will do three and a half of these small loops, and the women will do two and a half. These laps will be fast, as the course only features a few hundred feet of climbing on each time around the reservoir. If there’s a strong wind coming off the mountains as there very easily can be in springtime, look for a breakaway to power off in a crosswind, looking for their chance of glory.

Riders without superior climbing prowess will depend on the chances of such a breakaway, given the pass looming at the end of the race. Getting out front and building a substantial gap on the race’s flat section (40 miles of flatland riding for women, 55 for men) will be essential as the race descends through Ogden Canyon into the city and rides north through the edge of Ogden along the base of the mountains.

Then, with 16 miles remaining in the race, things will start to turn uphill, as riders make their way over a Cat 5 climb (1.5 miles @ 3%), followed by a short descent, and then the monster Cat 1 climb, which will take riders from 4,600 to 6,200 feet in just four miles. That’s an average of 7.3%, with the last three miles at 9.3%, and plenty of steeper pitches to go around. When
Levi Leipheimer leads riders up the brutal climb in the 2011 Tour of Utah- the same climb collegiate riders will face in 2012.
Levi Leipheimer leads riders up the brutal climb in the 2011 Tour of Utah- the same climb collegiate riders will face in 2012.
the men’s pro peloton conquered this climb in the 2011 Tour of Utah, an average speed of 10 mph meant you were doing pretty well. Even though riders will only do the climb once, it should be more than enough to shatter the field and whittle the front down to an elite few. Make no mistake, what happens on this climb will determine the outcome of the entire weekend. If a breakaway made it to this point, expect the catch to happen on the slopes of this climb.

That is unless a rider with a solid climbing pedigree sneaks into the break, and shoots out the front once things get steep. From that point, it’s all on the leader’s descending skills. With two miles of -9% grades that wind back down to the reservoir, riders will need to stay fresh enough to descend with care and agility. Even after riders leave the steep descent, though, it’s a long downhill of five more miles to the finish, where a new national champion will be crowned, not only in the road race, but in the individual omnium, and the event’s top prize, the team omnium.  However the day plays out, there is certain to be lots of excitement on course and at the finish.

(Please note that due to the steep canyon and cliff walls near the southwest corner of the reservoir, elevation data for this section of the course is exaggerated on the course maps: the men's course should feature approximately 3500ft of climbing, while the women's will be closer to 3200ft total.)

This Article Updated April 9, 2012 @ 04:35 PM For more information contact: