The only race standing between area cyclocross stars and the national championships is set for Sunday at Fort Lewis College around Ray Dennison Memorial Field.
FLC will play host for an event that will serve several purposes. It will give local professionals such as Stephan Davoust and Sarah Sturm a tuneup before the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships scheduled Dec. 12-15 in Tacoma, Washington. FLC’s collegiate teams will gain one more opportunity to compete before collegiate nationals the same weekend in Tacoma. Plus, it will provide area athletes of all ages a final chance to collect points for the 2019 Zia Taqueria 4 Corners CX Series.
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With a week of wet weather and snow, exciting conditions are expected. A kids race will be held at 10 a.m., with more racing set for 11 a.m. and noon.
Pro cyclocross racer Sarah Sturm, an FLC alumna and reigning singlespeed cyclocross national champion, said FLC cycling director Dave Hagen and his crew always design a great course for the local event.
“It’s awesome terrain for a cyclocross course,” said Sturm. “There is everything from runups to stairs to off-camber grassy sections that are so much more fun when it’s wet, slippery, snowy and miserable out.”
Davoust, who won the men’s race last year at FLC, is coming off a men’s Colorado state championship performance last weekend. He plans to compete in two events at nationals this year.
“It’s neat to have something in town that’s so easy to get to,” Davoust said. “The weather is going to shape out to be pretty ideal for variable cross racing. To have some snow melting off and the grass nice and slick, it will be super fun for people to watch and fun for us racers.”
FLC has a loaded team of athletes, especially on the women’s side with Katja Freeburn, who competed in a World Cup event last week in Belgium, as well as cyclocross pro Sophie Russenberger. Tristen Musselman is also coming off a podium finish at the collegiate state championships.
Durango’s Keiran Eagen and Guy Lesham of Israel also had a strong weekend and finished third and fourth, respectively, in the men’s collegiate state championships for FLC.
“The team has historically done very well at CX with many national champions and team titles and has finished second the past two years by very slim margins,” Hagen said in an email to The Durango Herald. “The race on Sunday will be the last race in preparation for the 2019 national championships. Your Skyhawks will do battle with riders from all over the region, many of them previous national champions, to hone their fitness and skills.”
Another young local rider to watch is Ivan Sippy, a high school mountain bike state champ who has been strong in cross all season. Of course, several other local pros such as Todd Wells are likely to sign up to compete.
With crashes inevitable in the muddy conditions, cycling fans won’t want to miss Sunday’s racing.
“I was watching a World Cup in Belgium, and the terrain that we have at Fort Lewis is pretty prime compared to grassy courses out in Belgium,” Sturm said. “It’s sweet to have that in our backyard. Durango is known for mountain biking, but the cyclocross opportunities are pretty incredible, too.”