Katie Clouse, Eric Brunner win U.S. Under-23 cyclocross titles
Clouse, whose U.S. nationals unbeaten streak in her age category dates back to 2013, won Sunday’s Under-23 women’s national cyclocross title in her first year in the division. The win is her 31st national title across road, cyclocross, and mountain bike.
“I had a few [mistakes] but I wanted to ride a consistent race and do the best I could,” Clouse said at the finish. “It’s nationals and sometimes there are mistakes that happen.”
Clouse is one of the most decorated young American cyclists racing today. Earlier in the week she claimed the collegiate national cyclocross title, racing for Mesa State University.
Clouse dominated the race, seizing the lead from the gun before crossing the finish line two minutes ahead of the nearest rider, Hannah Arensman (JA King Cyclocross). The course in Lakewood, Washington had been churned into mud after several rainstorms. Multiple national championship races had worn deep ruts into the track as well.
The obstacles were no match for Clouse, who seemed to float over the muddy track.
“This course has been one of my favorites,” Clouse said at the finish. “It’s an awesome course and really challenging — the perfect amount of running and power.”
Clouse’s national championship win caps off a breakthrough season that saw her join the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com professional team. Clouse now heads to Europe for a block of racing on the UCI World Cup that will culminate with the UCI World Cyclocross Championships.
“I’ll do the next two World Cups, then I go to Spain with Mud Fund, and then the last two World Cups and then [world championships],” Clouse said. “I”m excited. Those World Cups aren’t going to be easy.”
Eric Brunner wins Men’s U-23
Coloradan Eric Brunner won the men’s Under-23 title just two days after winning the collegiate men’s title in Lakewood, Washington.
Brunner (Blue Stages Racing) won a tactical battle with Caleb Swartz (Linear Sports/Trek) over the muddy course. The two sprinted to the front of the men’s field early, and fought a two-man race through the race’s first 20 minutes. Behind, Scott Funston (The Hold Fast Project) chased behind with Lane Maher and Alex Morton (both Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld).
Brunner opened an advantage on Swartz with three laps to go, and gradually poured on the speed, opening his advantage on the ensuing two laps.
“I was going all-out on the last lap, but at the same time I just had to focus and keep it all together,” Brunner said. “I knew I had a big gap and I just had to bring it to the line.”
Brunner, who lives in Boulder, Colorado, has come close but never won a USA Cycling national title in cyclocross. He was third in the Under-23 division in both 2018 and 2017, and third in the junior men’s 17-18 division in 2016.
“I’m beyond words right now,” Brunner said. “This is definitely one of the best days of my life.”