Compton and Hyde Continue Reign with Elite Titles at #CXNats
Louisville, Ky. -- The 2018 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships 18.2 crowned five champions on the final day of racing in Louisville on Sunday. Competitions decided 38 national champions, with 1,669 unique registered athletes taking to the start line for the six days.
The event concluded with epic course conditions and thousands of cheering spectators around the muddy course at Joe Creason Park. Strategy for the racers was all about staying smooth and minimizing mistakes on the tough 2.41-kilometer twisting course with its relentless elevation changes and water-saturated clay that blended into heavy mud.
Alex Morton (Saint Clair, Mich./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld Devo Team) stormed his way to the front of the 66-rider field to take the title in the Junior Men 17-18. The 17-year-old crossed the line with a time of 45 minutes, 3 seconds, just over one minute ahead of second-place Nick Carter (Minneapolis, Minn./KCCX Elite Cyclocross Team). Magnus Sheffield (Pittsford, N.Y.) claimed bronze.
“It feels amazing. This is my seventh national championship and I've never won. I've been on the podium twice. It feels amazing,” Morton said of winning his first Stars-and-Stripes jersey. “I just tried to keep a smooth race, and make sure I didn't fall down or anything. That was the game (plan) of today. Just stay upright and hope that others make mistakes.”
Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore./Team S&M Pro CX) dominated the Women U23 division from wire to wire, claiming her first Stars-and-Stripes jersey. Honsinger completed the course in a winning time of 39:35. Finishing a little over two minutes later for silver was Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah/Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru), and Sophie Russenberger (Bend, Ore.) scored the bronze.
“It's been a goal this season. I hit it and it feels like hitting a target spot on,” said Honsinger, who finished second at the last cyclocross national championship in this event.
The podium for top Junior Women in the 17-18 age category was determined as part of the U23 competition. With her overall second-place finish in the U23 race, 17-year-old Clouse secured her second consecutive 17-18 division title. Madigan Munro (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Junior Cycling) was second and Meredith Sierpina (Louisville, Ky./Revolution Devo Cycling) was third.
"I'm always going for the first overall, but Clara was awesome at riding and running everything today. She was the stronger girl out there, but I'm super happy with my result,” Clouse said. “It's always really amazing to take home the title. I worked super hard this season and I'm super happy with my result this year."
Spencer Petrov (McKinney, Texas/Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com) followed his pre-race plan and won the U23 Men category in 44:47. Petrov accelerated away from a five-rider lead group on the second of four laps to take the title. Brannan Fix (Fort Collins, Colo./Alpha Bicycle co. / Groove Subaru) won the battle for silver, crossing the line 1:06 behind the winner. Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo./Full Cycle Cyclocross Team) was third.
“When you get in conditions like this (in the mud), you want to ride your own race, ride your own lines. So I stayed as calm as I could and I knew that it was about the second lap. The first lap I wanted to stay very smooth and the second lap I wanted to try to open a good go, because it's a long race,” explained Petrov, who won the Men Juniors 15-16 in 2014. Petrov grew up two hours away in Mason, Ohio, and had raced many times in the Louisville area. “Pan American Championships were held here last year and I broke my chain on the line. It wasn't the best race here last year. For me to come back and redeem and get another jersey is amazing. I'm so happy.”
Steve Buttleman, the official bugler at Churchill Downs and The Kentucky Derby, began proceedings for the final two races of the week, the Elite Women and Elite Men events, by playing the national anthem and the official state song of Kentucky, "My Old Kentucky Home."
Fourteen-time Elite Women’s cyclocross champion Katie Compton (Colorado Springs, Colo./KFC Racing p/b Trek Knight) took control of the reigns on the first lap and dominated the four-lap contest. She rode solo across the line in 52:23 to capture a 15th consecutive Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
“I didn't get a great start. I clipped in, but then my foot popped up on my second or third pedal stroke so I had to regroup a bit. I just knew that it's a long race and it's a long course. It's easy to lose a lot of time if you make a mistake in the descent,” said Compton, who used her experience and skills to surge ahead of Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing CX) on the early chicane descent.
"The whole race I wasn't thinking about winning, I was just thinking about being smart and keeping one foot ahead of the other,” Compton continued. “The hills were really hard, so yeah, I didn't think I was quite going to win until I was going over the barriers on the last lap. At that point I knew that if I made a mistake I could get to the finish line by running."
Sunny Gilbert (Ellisville, Mo./Van Dessel Factory Team) had the ride of her life to win the duel for silver. “It's huge,” Gilbert said of winning the silver medal. “It was totally unexpected. I just lined up, did my absolute best, went down in the first corner and said, okay now I can do my absolute best.”
Noble, who won the overall title in the Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) this season, finished third. “On the line I was feeling really good, really confident and ready for a good battle. I started really hard and was able to get a small lead,” said Noble, last year's runner-up. “I just tried to keep the pressure on because anything can happen. I was able to get past Sunny for a little while and she beat me and I'm really happy for both of them. You always want to win, but I'm really happy for both of them, it's a balancing act.”
With afternoon sun trying to peak out and spotlight the action, Stephen Hyde (Easthampton, Mass./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) successfully defended his Elite Mens title in 1:07:09. Hyde battled against his teammate Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) until he pulled away on the sixth and final lap to claim his third consecutive championship. Crossing the line 27 seconds later, White took second.
“It feels unreal, it really has been such an up and down season," Hyde said. "Unfortunately, more downs than ups, but this week has been great. I was able to actually pull it off on such a heavy, heavy course. And Curtis is doing so well this year. It's his first Elite Men podium, so it's pretty unreal to able to get it.”
“It was a course that I knew I wanted to be in front for a lot of these sections. No one had a clean race. I wanted to stay away from the carnage. Hyde came with me and we slowly grew the gap,” added the 23-year-old White. “I'm thrilled to have the race that I did and come away with second. I came into this weekend knowing that I did everything that I could to get myself the best chance to fight for the win.”
Twenty-year-old Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Alpha Bicycle Co./ Groove Subaru) bypassed riding in the U23 contest to compete with the elite riders. He rode solo for most of the race to earn bronze in his first Elite Men's championship.
“I was starting to cramp everywhere. I was just exhausted, and all I could think about was coming through that finish line. It was a really tough day and I'm really happy with the result, happy to be on the podium,” said Hecht.“Going into next year, it will be a little bit more confidence that I can hang with these guys and compete with them.”Day Six results can be found here. More information about the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships is available on the event webpage.
Compton and Hyde Defend Elite Titles at #CXNatsVIEW ARTICLE