The two-mile course at Badger Prairie Park in Verona, Wisconsin, offers up a multifaceted challenge, with grinding climbs, bombing descents, twisting technical sections, and the balancing act of off-camber slopes, which should be made all the more demanding given the snow and ice that have covered the Wisconsin park’s contoured grass hillsides.
In terms of the course layout, it is nearly identical to the 2012 race, with only a few minor tweaks, according to Micah Rice, USA Cycling’s vice president of national events.
“The course is currently in great shape and is very challenging to ride and race,” Tom Schuler, the local promoter of the event, told VeloNews. “Bike handling skills will be rewarded in Verona. The ground is mostly hard/firm, but a little soft in the south facing hills, of which there are quite a few. Again, bike handling skills will be tested to the max.”
From the start grid, riders will be able to hit high speeds on a long, gently curving paved road, flashing under the finish truss after approximately 500 feet, before cruising onto and around a portion of soccer field. A few quick, technical turns brings the riders to the pit. Then, the climbing begins as the course gently rises along the north slope of the park’s major hill before turning right and ascending steeply up and over the top.
Here, the course will likely stay cold and icy, and riding the hill may prove impossible for some riders. After falling from the hilltop, the course loops back and up a staircase, then wraps around the hillside again before a fast, grassy downhill into the course’s only set of barriers.
After passing the pits for a second time, the course enters a series of slower, likely slipperier corners through trees, sand and spectators. Finally, the track leads out and onto the hillside again in a series of stair-step, steep climbs, only to fall again in a series of tricky, off-camber corners, back into shady trees and returns onto the paved finishing stretch.
“It is looking like we could have much more snow on the ground this year, which will definitely add to the difficulty or excitement, depending on how you look at it,” said Tony Leko, USA Cycling’ national events manager. “It is cyclocross, after all!”