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Gallery: Chasing Eric Brunner at the 2021 ‘cross nationals

Pro men tempted by a national championship jersey — and dollar bills — in suburban Chicago.

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Through the mud, sand, and over an undulating course that included a stair climb after a 180-degree bend, the elite men contested the 2021 USA Cycling national cyclocross championship.

In the first lap, seven riders separated themselves from more than 45 starters, and by the start of the second lap, six were in pursuit mode, chasing after the eventual winner Eric Brunner.

At the front of the race, cross racers and crit specialists battled for position, as the course in Cantigny Park, west of Chicago, Illinois, turned “greasy” in the fading daylight.

Brunner was off the front — and was chased for five of seven laps — while behind him podium positions were in play right through the second half of the final lap.