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CX Nationals: Top 10 men to watch

The USA Cycling National Cyclocross Championships are underway in Reno, Nevada with the elite championships on Sunday, January 14.

Four of the five races taking place on super Sunday will be streamed live, right here on VeloNews.com. The coverage begins at noon EST.

Here are the top contenders for the elite men’s race, which will start at 6:00 p.m. EST. Check out our list of top-10 riders to watch in the elite women’s race.

Stephen Hyde (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)

Defending champion Stephen Hyde will be tough to beat on Sunday, as he comes off of a European stint that saw him ride into the top 15 at both of the World Cup stops in late December. His 11th- and 13th-place finishes in Namur and Zolder, respectively, were better than his results at the U.S. World Cup stops and occurred on arguably two of the hardest courses in the world. Hyde has also been a force when racing in the U.S., taking home the U.S. Cup-CX overall title. He won the final four rounds of the seven-race series and took home the Pan-American championship for the second year running. A late crash and mechanical made the finish to last year’s national championships interesting, but judging by Hyde’s results this season in Europe, he is on another level and will be extremely difficult to dethrone.

Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz-Donkey Label)

If there is one man that can take down Hyde, it might be Tobin Ortenblad. In his second year racing in the elites, Ortenblad went on a tear capturing 11 UCI wins, finishing second in the final U.S. Cup-CX standings and winning the USA Cycling ProCX. Apart from the Cincinnati Cyclocross weekend that saw him finish outside the top-10 both days and damage his chances of claiming the overall in the U.S. Cup-CX series, he stood on the podium every weekend since the KMC Cross Fest at the end of September. Ortenblad has had the added weight of running his own program this season, which makes the results even more telling and impressive. Unlike Hyde, the Californian last raced in mid-December, so it remains to be seen what sort of race fitness Ortenblad will bring to Reno.

Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team)

While Hyde seems to be a step above the rest, the battle for the podium will be fierce. Multiple riders that have gone toe-to-toe all season will battle it out. One of those riders is Kerry Werner. Werner began the year by winning at the opening UCI weekend in Rochester and ended 2017 by sweeping the North Carolina Grand Prix UCI weekend, which put his win tally to five. He was fifth at the Pan-American Championships, the third American behind Hyde and Ortenblad. Werner has consistently been in the third to fifth spot throughout the year at the big events and has been on the verge of getting that big win. Should lady luck be on his side, Sunday could be that day for Werner.

Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)

Like Werner, Curtis White has constantly been in the battle for the top-five and sometimes the podium. White is a first-year elite rider but knows how to contend for a Stars and Stripes jersey having finished second in 2016 and third in 2015 at U23 nationals. He missed the Pan-American championships earlier this year due to illness. White last raced at the beginning of December at the North Carolina Grand Prix weekend, which Werner swept. White does have a weekend sweep of his own this year at the North Hampton International UCI weekend in November. He beat Hyde the first day. White will most certainly be a podium contender and will most likely be seeing a lot of Werner’s purple kit, as well as the red jersey of the next rider on the list.

Jamey Driscoll (Donnelly Sports)

Jamey Driscoll finished second at the national championships last year in Hartford, but he will have to come to Reno with great form to repeat that performance. Judging by his palmares, Driscoll has had a down year. His only win came on the first day of the U.S. Open of Cyclocross, where none of the riders ahead of him on this list were present. He last raced at the Ruts N’ Guts weekend in December and against a field weaker than he will see at nationals he placed seventh and ninth in the two race days — not podium material. However, over the course of the season, Driscoll was consistent. He was often sandwiched between the likes of White and Werner, though was never able to fully grasp that podium spot when the field was deep like it will be on Sunday. Driscoll will be in the mix for a top five, but a podium finish will be a stretch.

Jack Kisseberth (JAM Fund-NCC)

Jack Kisseberth is the latest rider to come out of the famed Northhampton, Massachusetts JAM Fund program, which was created by Jeremy Powers along with two others. Kisseberth finished fourth at nationals in 2017 and will be looking to finally make that jump to the podium. He’s already won on the course in Reno, winning the non-championship men’s 23-29 race on Tuesday. Kisseberth has mostly raced the B-level races this year, where he was either winning or finishing on the podium. When he did venture to the bigger national scene races he was in the back half of the top 10, which makes repeating his performance from last year difficult. Having already experienced the course at race speed could help Kisseberth, as he won the non-championship race in Hartford before finishing fourth in the elite race last year.

Other contenders

Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) is a four-time elite national champion, but the days of his utter American dominance are over. He scored his first UCI win in over a year at the NBX GP and his results this year have been hit or miss. He’s either at the front battling or off the back. This also may be due to heart issues he has experienced this season where his heart rate jumps to over 200 BPM and does not drop. Hopefully, this will not affect him come Sunday.

Jonathan Page (Shimano-Clifbar-KindHuman) is another four-time elite national champion and while he has raced little this year and only appeared at one of the big national UCI weekends, he deserves mention due to his palmares. Also, it is his last national championships, so he will be motivated come Sunday. Expect Page to find himself in the back half of the top 10 should he have a good ride.

Cody Kaiser (Lange Twins-Specialized) and Allen Krughoff (Krughoff Racing) finished ninth and 10th respectively in Hartford and will both look to improve on that performance in Reno. They are both steady top-10 riders with the caliber field that will be present Sunday but will need a bit of luck to crack the top five. Kaiser has one UCI win this season, at the Cyntergy Hurtland, while Krughoff did not get the chance to raise his arms in the air this season at a UCI race.

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