Three years ago the US Grand Prix of cyclocross moved venue locations from New Jersey to Fort Collins, Colorado. Hosting the Grand Prix not only brought the best talent in the country to Colorado, but it also doubled the amount of UCI races in the state. Once the cyclocross crazed front range of Colorado sunk in their claws, an event of this magnitude had no chance of escape. The three other stops on the GP circuit are not much higher than sea level, and the fact that Ft.Collins’ elevation is an even 5,000 ft adds another unique dynamic to this weekend of racing. Needless to say I look forward to this race every season.
I have had my share of bad luck at this race in years past. I’ve come down with the flu after day 1 and had to watch the race from bed. By this time last season I had the fitness but the freshness factor was long gone. This year I was hoping to put together a clean race and pull out a decent result. Coming off of a top 10 at a muddy Providence I had some good confidence for the weekend.
Kenny Wehn and I turned a couple of dusty laps on the course on Friday afternoon. There were some slight changes in the course from years past. I think they did a great job with what there was to work with…which was basically a field. The course had a nice flow to it, and you could carry some good speed through most sections. With rain in the forecast I was really hoping for some slick muddy conditions on Saturday.
The rain came, but as quickly as it rolled in it rolled right out. By the time the Elite Women raced the course was tacky and faster than ever. After a 3rd row call up and a good solid start, I somehow got my bars tangled up with another rider’s bars. We had to come to a complete stop to get them unhooked. This was right before the run up on the first lap, so a at least 30 or so riders passed by. As I remounted at the top, another rider came over in front of me and took out a spoke on my front Iron Cross wheel. After a flawless exchange in the pits I was on a fresh bike and back in the game, but well towards the back of the field. Working my way up to 27th I was happy to salvage the day but I couldn’t help but feel like I had squandered another good start.
After Saturday’s effort, along with some good food and sleep I came into Day 2 calm but determined. The course had dried to a mix between Adobe and concrete. A decent start and a clean first lap put me around 30th. I was able to hook up with fellow Colorado crosser, Alan Krughoff, and Brad White. With 2 laps to go we had worked our way up to 13th. So close to top ten (points), and it seemed like we still had some steam rollin’. There was a late attack from Alex Candelario that strung out the group and I just couldn’t react. I must have done too much work early on. It would have been a good opportunity to use more road tactics and less mtn bike tactics.
The NoTubes/Kenda combo was rippin’ and the disc brakes continue to blow my mind. So smooth! Finished the day in sixteenth and we got to break in a new team member, Chris George. I wouldn’t say I put a stamp on the Ft.Co GP, but I do feel like I got a small monkey off my back. Thanks to the NoTubes crew for a flawless weekend, and all the hometown fans that came out and supported.