Time to gear up for... that period of time between Nats and Worlds, where virtually nothing memorable happens besides people getting ready for worlds.
On Nats day, the elite men produced maybe two results that were worth getting excited about? Certainly Steve Chainel’s emotional capture of his decade-long white whale, the French CX champion’s tricouleur, was one. And for an exciting race, the duel between Jeremy Powers and Stephen Hyde was as good as it gets. Here are the last three laps:
Hyde ended up having a bit more in the tank, whereas Powers lost his, um, powers with a quarter of a lap remaining in what had been a real dogfight up to that point. Even better, the two combatants returned to western Massachusetts after the race and spent at least part of the next week riding together on snowy trails in the Berkshires. Partly because they were already friends and neighbors, and partly because they are now teammates, or about to be teammates, on Team USA at the CX Worlds in Valkenburg in two weeks.
The other order of business is resolving what’s left of the World Cup, starting Sunday in Nommay, France. Nommay is a grassy crit with a staircase for more of a “challenge,” but the final event next weekend in Hoogerheide, NL, is more notable. Of course, both Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant can wrap up their titles by more or less staying upright, but I’m sure people will enjoy themselves somehow regardless. OK, in Cant’s case it’s not quite assured, with Kaitlin Keough and Katie Compton still in range, and Compton looking strong, but the 68 points separating the Belgian/World Champ from her closest American pursuer is formidable, given her form.
There will be some action in the Superprestige competition after Worlds, with the two young guns Matty and Wout separated by a single point and events still to come in February at Hoogstraten and Middelkerke. For now, though, it’s all about reading the tea leaves for Valkenburg.