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Hyde: We need a pro ‘cross schedule that makes sense

Stephen Hyde says he wants the U.S. cyclocross scene to harness its strong fields with a cohesive, focused series for pro racers.

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The state of American cyclocross is strong, according to Stephen Hyde, who recently won his first ‘cross national championship in Hartford, Connecticut. But Hyde, a relative newcomer to the top of the American cyclocross rankings, says he wants to see the national schedule improved and streamlined.

“As for the domestic scene, we need a revamp on our series. We don’t have a series. The Pro CX is there, yes. It’s exciting to have that series, but it’s too big,” he said a few days before the World Cup final in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.

Unlike some U.S. cyclocross stalwarts, such as Jonathan Page, Jeremy Powers, or Jamey Driscoll, who have made podium appearances at nationals going back to the early 2000s, Hyde might have a fresh perspective on American ‘cross. Hyde’s first UCI win came in 2013 at Charm City Cyclocross, and he didn’t reach a nationals podium until 2016.

“Right now I think we are in a really good position from a participation level. I think from a ridership level, we’ve got some really good riders right now. We’ve got better riders now than we’ve had in a long time,” said the 30-year-old, who admits he sometimes doubts if his generation will live up to the pros of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross heyday in the early 2000s.

But Hyde, with seven UCI wins under his belt in 2016, plus the 2017 Stars and Stripes jersey, has come into his own, and he is open with his critiques of the current schedule.

“I think they did a really good job of promoting it this year,” he said of USA Cycling and its Pro CX calendar. “What they’re promoting, though I think could be more solid.”

The Massachusetts resident also wants to see more unity with West Coast racing. “It would be really cool if the OBRA crowd got involved with some more UCI racing,” he said. “I know there’s a lot of politics in it; they have a great scene, and they don’t need to leave. But every year I hear the same stories — ‘Oh I can’t go to nationals because I don’t have a UCI point, I’d have to travel all over.’ They can fix that. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but they can fix that. Everyone could come together on some solid ground.”

With the 2016 domestic ‘cross season over — Hyde handily won the Pro CX series, by the way — he’s in Europe and focused on world championships, along with three major races to follow at Maldegem, Lille, and Hoogstraten.

Though his racing is now far from the States, and he disarmingly says “rant over” after talking about the schedule, his opinion stands: “We need a race schedule that makes sense.”

Read a full interview with Stephen Hyde >>