A strong group of Wisconsin riders will contend for victories among the 1,000 riders racing in Verona through Sunday in the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships.
Kaitlin Antonneau, from Racine, won the U23 race in the 2010 championships and will be a contender in the elite women’s race on Sunday. Ashley James, from Dousman, is the defending collegiate champion and will look to add another stars & stripes jersey.
Kaitie Compton, from Colorado Springs, Colo., will be the favorite to win an eighth straight title in the women's elite chase.
Masters racers took to the 1.9-mile course in Badger Prairie Park Thursday morning, under a sunny sky. The course froze hard overnight, but will soften up in the temperatures expected to reach the 40s.
It’s far different from the frozen tundra and brutal cold many predicted when USA Cycling awarded the cyclo-cross championships to Madison, and pushed the date back from the traditional December race weekend.
While avoiding the snow and cold, the nation’s top cyclo-cross racers will be challenged by the steep uphills, on a course tested in the Midwest Regional Championships in December.
Along with a strong group of elite and masters riders, a few juniors have solid shots to stand on the podium.
Sarah Huang, from Kenosha, has a wardrobe of stars and stripes jerseys from her previous successes and will look to add more.
In the men’s elite field, Sheboygan-area riders Brian Matter and Tristan Schouten have a home-state advantage that could boost them to a break-out showing. Matter is 8th in the latest national rankings and Schouten stands 11th.
Jeremy Powers, Todd Wells and Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson and Jonathan Page will be the favorites to take home the elite men's title.
Check out the pre-race scorecard at Cyclingnews.com.
The course will be filled with masters racers on Thursday and most of Friday. The juniors get to test their legs on Friday, and the collegiate championships start on Saturday.
Sunday will be the ultimate day of cyclo-cross in the state and the nation. The women’s elite field takes the start line at noon and the men follow at 2:15 p.m.