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After the drama of the Waterloo cyclocross World Cup, in which Eli Iserbyt and Marianne Vos took victories, riders and their teams traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas, for the inaugural Fayetteville World Cup, at Centennial Park on Wednesday.
Very few of the riders have previously seen the new course, created especially for the World Cup and the World Championships (in January 2022), and there is much interest in previewing the track. VeloNews caught up with some of the top riders to see what they thought of the course, and the level of racing they experienced in Waterloo.
Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)
It’s been really impressive to see how much infrastructure they built. This course has character. These stone bridges, the built-in tunnels in and out of these hills – it will be a very fun course. Right now, it’s very dry and this is probably one of the faster CX courses that I’ve seen. There is a big, sweeping descent, and then you carry a lot of momentum back up these climbs. Then, there are parts of this course that feels like a super-cross/moto-cross track. It will be very interesting to see how the course reacts to the weather. Two years ago, in 2019, we did a course here before all of this was developed. The night before the race we got 3 inches of rain, the soil was completely muddy, we had shin-deep mud. It was a real diesel effort so I’m curious to see how these new features will react to inclement weather.
I’m definitely excited to race in the mud – that’s my jam! The dry would be fun, but it changes the race. I think having the weather with mud and wind, whatever it may be. It adds another variable into things. I think ‘cross is such an unpredictable sport to begin with, that the more [mud] the better. These guys from Europe are very fast. It’s certainly a whole other level when you get out there. All you can really do, especially when you’re starting in the 3rd row, you’re automatically relegated to the back 15. It’s a battle trying to keep up with these guys as long as possible and then maintaining composure, and not going so deep that you’re going backward the rest of the race. It is also learning from them, watching the lines that they take, where they produce power versus where they recover a bit.
Clara Honsinger (Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com)
It’s pretty wild! I don’t think I have ever ridden a cyclocross course like this. It’s almost like a jump park with all these features, big rolling hills, and sweeping corners. It’s really fascinating; I think it’s going to be really hard, especially if it stays dry because it’s so fast and dragging in the wind. It’s not like something I’ve raced in the U.S. or seen in Europe. Honestly, it’s not really technical. What’s going to be technical is how fast it’s ridden. The speed, trying to push it hard around these corners, and people pushing their bikes to the limit. That’s going to be interesting.
If it rains and it gets muddy and wet, it’s definitely going to be a factor in the race. It plays into the peloton effect. If you see the person in front of you going in to get a bike, often it’s a good decision to follow them. That means you get a moment of rest and you both get clean bikes. If you feel like you see them going in, but you know you can stretch it for another half a lap or to the finish line it’s definitely a move to make.
Katie Clouse (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld Team)
It looks like a super cool venue. It’s different than what I have ever raced. I think the rain will do good for the course. It’s going to make it a really hard course. I think it’s going to be a very fast race.
Last season I was out due to injury but I raced a lot in Europe two years ago. The World Cup season is definitely a different depth and speed than U.S. racing. It was a shock coming back to race. As the conditions change you want to change a lot with tire pressure and tire choices. It’s interesting because today we’re using the fastest tires we have but tomorrow we’re using our [Challenge] Baby Limus mud tires, so we’ll see.
There is an advantage to racing at home. The Europeans are fast so I don’t think there’s much of an advantage beyond that. It’s early season so I just want to do the best I can. It’s early [in the] season so, obviously, I want to have a good result but I’m not going to dwell on it if I don’t. I just want to focus on the future – World Cups in Europe are my focus – before coming back home. It’s a really long season so I’m kind of building up to it. So, I’m getting some good, fast racing and hoping to do my best.’