This weekend marks the 8th year of the Trek CX Cup and 3rd edition of World Cup Waterloo at Trek Headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin. What initially started as Trek allowing the old Sun Prairie USGP race to continue on its grounds has grown into one of the biggest races on the international cyclocross calendar.
Trek’s commitment to cyclocross really grew in the early 2010s when the company signed Katie Compton (KFC Racing p/b Trek) and Sven Nys, invited UCI cyclocross to its grounds and released the Boone and Crockett, which remain its flagship cyclocross bikes to this day.
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Trek has taken over all aspects of the Trek CX Cup and World Cup Waterloo weekend, but it is still a group of cyclocross enthusiasts working during lunch breaks and free time who really drive planning for the event. Famed race director Brook Watts has been in Waterloo for the last week to help make sure the race weekend runs smoothly, and behind the scenes, he has gotten plenty of support.
One of the driving forces behind bringing a cyclocross World Cup to Waterloo has been Trek CFO Chad Brown. Brown’s passion for cyclocross is impossible to miss, and it extends to his office, where Robert Clark’s iconic photo of the 2018 Men’s finish welcomes all visitors.
I recently made the trip out to Waterloo to ride the course and chat with Brown about what’s new and returning for 2019. Today’s preview takes a look at the course and some of the events the Trek team has added in an effort to make the event one of the biggest bike parties of the year.
Back in the early Trek CXC Cup days, the area available on the Trek property was relatively limited, forcing race director Renee Callaway to squeeze cyclocross course everywhere she could and even use a parcel of public property across the street in a feature that became known locally as “the Toilet Bowl.” The old design did allow this dope AF video to be made, so it had its advantages, for sure.
After the success of first couple Trek CXC Cups, Trek started purchasing property adjacent to its headquarters and making improvements on the land it owned. The Toilet Bowl lasted through 2014, and then the course really started to resemble what it is today in 2016.
This year’s course will be largely similar to the one raced in 2018. We did an extensive preview of the course and a walk-through with course designer Travis Braun last year that more or less stands. You can also read course previews from 2016 and 2017 to see how the course and venue have changed over the years.
The biggest change to this year’s course is probably a revamp of the iconic barn flyover. Set at the highest point on the Trek property, the barn flyover was known in recent years for being really really really steep.
New for 2019, the flyover has been rebuilt with much gentler slopes. Never fear though, it will still be plenty barn-y in appearance, so that little nod to Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage remains.
The log stairs also got a redesign for the 2019 race. Two years ago, the feature had two small logs that were rideable for some riders—and crashable for others.
A fun tidbit from that year was on Friday during the Trek CX Cup, the two logs were much more ridable because the placement of the course stake at the first gave riders a bit of a ramp to launch over the second. On Saturday, Braun told me he fixed the glitch after reading our race reports and seeing photos of riders send it over the logs. #journalmalism
Last year, more logs were added, and in 2019, the log stairs return.
Are they rideable? Umm, yes.
The final updated feature is the 90-degree turn rock wall. The wall is now 2x higher, creating a much tougher feature for riders to get up and over. We will have to get back to you on who officially paid for it.
Other than those changes, the course is largely the same. The World Cup course features a paved start across the Trek parking lot before heading up onto the hill that runs the length of the Trek property. The course then heads over the barn flyover and down to the rather steep Segafredo Run-Up.
From there, it is into the woods and a series of descents and climbs before breaking out into a windy series of turns in the field adjacent to “Little Zolder.” The lap then finishes with the barriers, a trip under the barn and the final key feature, Trek Factory Hill.
Trek Factory Hill is definitely a feature worth keeping an eye on, as Sanne Cant (IKO – Crelan) made her winning move there in the 2017 World Cup, and Marianne Vos (CCC – Liv) got a small gap on Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing CX) there during their legendary battle in 2018.
Helen 100 Junior Women’s Race
The Junior Women’s category is finally coming to the World Championships this February in Dübbendorf, and the UCI is slowly expanding the number of Junior Women’s races until they are required during the 2021/22 season.
The recently retired Helen Wyman, however, has never been one to sit around and wait for change to happen, and it is no different in giving Junior Women the chance to have their own UCI-level race.
Last December, Wyman and her partners hosted the Helen100 Junior Women’s race at Azencross in Loenhout. The event allowed the women their own race slot and had payouts equal to what the Junior Men received that day.
Wyman contacted Trek about hosting a Helen100 race during Friday’s Trek CX Cup, and the company that has offered equal World Cup payouts since 2017 agreed to host the race.
The Helen100 Junior Women’s race takes place at 10:45 a.m. on Friday morning, and like its World Cup counterpart, it will have payouts equal to what the UCI mandates be given to the Junior Men.
The Legends Race
There is no question throwing a good bike party requires thinking outside the box. Jingle Cross did it last weekend with the Doggie Cross, Superhero Fun Run and Poker Gravel Grinder, and Trek’s offering on that front is the Legends Races that close out the day on Friday and Saturday.
The headliners for the first Legends Races were Sven Nys and Jens Voigt in 2017, and since then, the company has pulled out all the stops with whom they invite. Last year’s field of legends featured Nys, Tim Johnson, Emily Batty and of course, the Cow.
The story behind the Cow is the Trek employee who has been dressing as a cow at the event for years now outsprinted Nys at the line in the 2017 Legends race. As they often do, Trek’s video team made a video about it for 2018 and it became A. Thing.
Also really cool from last year was the appearance of Waterloo native and 1999 Junior World Champion Matt Kelly sporting his World Champion stripes.
Legends confirmed for this year’s Legends races include Nys, Voigt, Johnson, Masters racer Jeremy Powers and mountain bike free ride legend Cam McCaul. Also too, probably the cow.
The weekend in Waterloo spans Thursday to Sunday. The course will be open for pre-ride from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday night, and riders have the chance to pick up their numbers and kick it at the Skratch Labs pre-ride party on-site.
Amateur racing takes place all three days as part of the Trek CX Cup. The UCI Juniors race Friday morning, and the UCI Elites race their C2 races at 1:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. CDT for the Women and Men, respectively, on Friday afternoon.
There is no UCI racing on Saturday, with amateurs taking the course from 7:30 a.m. until the Legends race concludes at 6:45 p.m. in the evening.
Sunday is World Cup Waterloo. The Elite Women race at 1:30 p.m. and the Elite Men at 3:00 p.m. CDT.
Check back on our site this weekend for a link to the non-geo-restricted live streams of both races.
This post was updated to reflect Thibau Nys’ badassedry.