Unpredictable was the word of the day. Across the various categories, not one race had a clear favorite. In a season full of ups and downs, the main players cautiously spoke about their chances in the big show. Would Stephen Hyde make it three in a row, or would his younger teammate Curtis White mount an offensive to take the jersey? Could Kaitie Keough find her World Cup winning form to nab her first women’s elite title? What about the stacked Junior field with Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld lining up several contenders?
Photography by Meg McMahon
As the rain soaked the course in the days prior to the race, it became even more clear that CX Nats would be a wild affair.
It’s always tough to find a calm moment before the start of a cyclocross race, let alone a national championship.
Hyde and White distanced their rivals early in the race but neither could establish a significant gap on each other.
On the slick muddy course, little mistakes could add up and leave a rider vulnerable to attack.
Blink and you might miss them, but the mechanics play a vital role in keeping a rider in the game. With conditions like these, Curtis and Stephen were swapping bikes every time pit row came around.
On the final lap, Hyde’s smooth technical abilities allowed him to gap White and strike out for the win.
Hyde came to the finish line as he has for the prior two years, solo with time to celebrate.
As Curtis White came home in second, the teammates and travel roommates celebrated their successes on the day.
The men’s elite podium for 2018, Stephen Hyde, Curtis White and Gage Hecht (an Aevolo development rider on the road).
In the women’s elite race, Kaitie Keough was hunting her first elite national title in a season that saw her win her first World Cup.
The heavy conditions forced riders to run many sections of the course, making for significant gaps.
Keough slogged and splashed through the mud as she fought to stay near the leaders.
Head mechanic Gary was on the top of his game, delivering Keough a clean, smooth-shifting bike on every lap.
“The Badger” never gave up the fight and came to the finish line in fifth place. It wasn’t the result Kaitie wanted on the day, but she can confidently shift her attention to finishing the season strong in Europe.
Spencer Petrov has been here before. A little over a year ago, he suffered a mechanical on a nearly identical course in the 2017 Pan-Am Championship. Back in Louisville, Spencer’s mind is fully committed to winning the U23 U.S. National Championship.
In the heavy mud, Spencer used his ability to run and long legs to establish an early gap.
Fully committed, Spencer mitigated his mistakes on the technical course to maintain his dominant lead.
As he approached the line, Spencer realized he had achieved redemption in Louisville.
The emotion of the win quickly took hold. The Petrovs have been regulars on the national cyclocross scene for several years now.
Spencer Petrov, the U23 National Champion.
In the Junior Men’s 17-18 race, teammates Alex Morton and Magnus Sheffield knew they were in for a fight against each other and the conditions. As the first to race on Sunday, the juniors would face frozen mud and ruts from the prior day’s riding.
From the start, the course conditions made for a technical battle.
The firmer, frozen ground allowed Alex Morton to unleash his barrier bunny-hopping abilities to gap his rivals.
But Pan-Am champ Magnus Sheffield wasn’t having any of it as he slogged through the mud to keep the gap small.
In the end, Alex dug deep to come to the line with time to celebrate his national title.
Unfortunately, to every victor there are those who suffer the agony of defeat. Magnus Sheffield would finish the day in 3rd place.
“We came into Nationals with the goal of the team retaining the jersey. Coming away with Hyde winning after an up-and-down year and Curtis showing that he’s going to be a contender for the years to come was the perfect result in Elite men,” said team manager Stu Thorne. “Capping our weekend with U23 and Junior men victories establishes the strategy of our program to develop talent at each level of the sport making our future exciting,” Thorne said.
Congratulations to all of the racers who braved the challenging conditions in Louisville, it was an incredible weekend! Now, the team shifts their attention to Europe where they will finish the season - culminating in Denmark at the CX World Championship. Follow along on Instagram at Cannondale Road and Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.