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Analysis: 5 things to watch over ’cross nationals weekend

Who will ride well both at nationals this week and at Worlds next month?

Riders try to peak for these two end-of-season races as they are arguably the most important events of the year. A medal can bring media attention, a new contract and sponsors, and even change the course of a career. Note Zdenek Stybar and Lars Boom, both former world champs-turned-WorldTour riders.

But it’s easier said than done, especially when many ’crossers also compete in mountain biking and road cycling.

Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective), the super-favorite for Sunday in the U.S., told VeloNews this week that one’s form at nationals is not always a good indicator of how one will ride at worlds.

“You need to be fast at nats, but being fast at worlds is much more important,” Compton said. “Right now, worlds is my major focus and I want to come into that with the best preparation.”

As for Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus), the current U.S. champ, he believes if a rider is on good form now, they will probably be good in three weeks, too.

“But the thing is, the season has been long and that doesn’t necessarily translate into form at this time of year,” Powers told VeloNews. “If you’ve been burning matches to do well in races since September, sometimes you don’t get those matches back. That’s especially true if you haven’t properly rested beforehand or built breaks into your schedule.

“In the U.S. we’ve been racing since September, so this build-up to nationals and worlds has to be done properly because no one is firing the same way they were at CrossVegas.”

Whoever rides well at nationals will likely have a good shot at doing something special in Louisville. So who will have enough left in the tank to use nationals as a springboard for worlds and a shot at a medal?

For a number of riders, it’s a bit of a gamble that they’ll be on form mentally and have the speed.

“It all depends if you’re at the top of the mountain now and are continuing to climb to February,” Powers said, “or if you’re on the way down the backside.”

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