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From the Pages of Velo: Gunning for glory on home turf

Editor’s note: This profile of the elite men and women of the U.S. National Team headed for the UCI Elite Cyclocross World Championships this week in Louisville, Kentucky, first appeared in the March issue of Velo magazine, and our official guide to the worlds.

Gunning for glory

It hasn’t been easy, for either the racers or the organizers, but the rise in American cyclocross talent and success on the world stage happens to coincide with a historical first: the elite world cyclocross championships will jump the pond, leaving its traditional epicenter in the Belgian countryside for the unlikely host city of Louisville, Kentucky, to a slice of land along the banks of the Ohio River. In February, Eva Bandman Park will host the revolution.

Being on home soil, the championships may well bring out the best in the host country, much like the Olympics seem to inspire home nations. Could we finally see someone in a stars and stripes skinsuit trade it for a rainbow jersey? Why such hope for fortune at home? What’s the big difference between racing in the mud in Kentucky and the mud in Belgium?

“Our results [in Europe] don’t always reflect how well we’ve been riding or what kind of a race we can put together when all goes right,” said three-time national champion Tim Johnson of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com. “We always travel to race, we always go well outside of our comfort zone to race. The questions I’ve had from my Belgian peers are pretty funny because they have no idea how to travel and race at the same time.”

Advantage number one to the Americans: They finally get to tackle the biggest race of the year, at home.

Naturally, knowing a course, and the nuances of the city surrounding it, make a professional racer that much more comfortable come race day. It all adds up to advantage number two.

“There’s no added pressure, actually it’s the exact opposite,” said Johnson’s new Cannondale teammate, Ryan Trebon. “It is so many extra small things that we don’t have to worry about this year: We have our own trucks, our own mechanics, good, normal food that’s always accessible, and no trans-Atlantic flights to contend with. I am beyond stoked not to have to spend January in Belgium this winter.”

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