Well, there is no way to sugarcoat it. Cyclocross Nationals this past weekend did not go as planned for the Donnelly crew. Here's the thing with bike racing at this level, if you are off by as little as one percent or have some untimely bad luck, it's going to hurt. There are no last second miracle touchdowns or half-court buzzer beaters in our sport. You’re either in it or you’re not. But a true professional never gives up. So, with that being stated we could not be more impressed with the desire, dedication and determination our riders brought to the race course this past weekend in Reno, Nevada. True grit was witnessed as well as unwavering professionalism, knowing there are many more races to be raced.
On a positive note, all of our riders thought the Reno venue, course and fan support were on point. "The course in Reno was really awesome. The first half was super fast, and basically all on grass except for a couple of technical features, while the second half had a huge run-up and a lot of loose off-cambers that were scattered with rocks," said Lance Haidet. "The spectators were incredible. Some sections of the course were deafeningly loud. It really seemed like everyone there was having a great time and that's what it's all about."
Laurel Rathbun put in some work this past week in Reno. She represented her Marian University Knights in the collegiate race and team relay before pining on a number in the women's U23 race on Sunday. "I felt pretty good all week. My plan was to be conservative in the college races, then leave it all out there on Sunday." stated Laurel.
Her best made plans were abruptly thwarted when she suffered a flat on the first lap."I went from second place to last and I was a long way from the pit," said Laurel. "Four laps later, I managed to claw my way back to 9th." It was a bittersweet ending to her last US Nationals as a U23 racer, but she took it all in stride, "My lap times got faster each lap, which was the first time that has ever happened!"
Good news followed a few days later as we learned Laurel was selected to USA Cycling's World Cyclocross Championship Team! She will be representing the United States in the 2018 UCI Cyclocross World Championships set for February 3-4 in Valkenburg-Limburg, Netherlands.
Lance Haidet has been battling back issues all season. Some days his finicky back does as it's told and other days it behaves rather poorly. As bad luck would have it, the defending U23 National Champion knew from the get go he was going to be in damage control for the next 50 minutes. "Leading up to Sunday, I had been feeling really good on the bike. My training and diet were dialed, and I was confident about defending my title, " said Lance. "On race day however, the good sensations were not to be found. Pretty quickly into the race, I realized it was not going to be my day. To be honest, it was one of the worst days on the bike I have had this year."
Lance is already looking forward to the future with optimism. "I have declined my spot to race the World Championships this year. A bit of time off before I start training for road racing will be better for me in the long run. It has been a great 'cross season, but next year is going to be even better!" said Lance.
Jamey Driscoll spent the long break between his last race of 2017 and Cyclocross Nationals to train, rest and repeat. Unfortunately, he caught a little bug the week before the big show in Reno. "After being sick all week I was worried my body would not respond the way it needed it to," said Jamey Driscoll. "I felt pretty normal for the first lap, but after that I knew I was not be firing on all cylinders."
Even though Jamey was disappointed in his 13th place result he had some positive things to say about the race. "The course had a nice flow and a good amount of challenge, especially for one in the desert." Jamey went on to say, "I live in a climate similar to Reno and I know the challenges of designing a course on this rough terrain. It was well done.
Jamey is also one rider who is looking forward to U.S. Cyclocross Nationals moving back to December this year. "Though I was able to prepare well for the January event, it's pretty tough spending six weeks training for one race." Jamey continued, "Having Nationals in January hasn't really produced better U.S. rider results at the World Championships. I'm glad it's moving back to December to serve the majority of the people racing Nationals. It's better for the sport."
Rider Tire Selection and Pressure
MXP: Front 24 psi Rear: 26 psi
MXP: Front 26 psi Rear: 26 psi
MXP: Front 27 psi Rear: 29 psi
Donnelly Professional Cycling Team Sponsors
Rochester Cyclocross – Rochester, NY
Jingle Cross World Cup – Iowa City, IO
CrossVegas – Las Vegas, NV
Trek CXC World Cup – Waterloo, WI
KMC CrossFest – Thompson, CT ( Jamey and Laurel )
West Sacramento Grand Prix – Sacramento, CA ( Lance )
Charm City Cross – Baltimore, MD
US Open of Cyclocross – Boulder, CO
Cincy CX Festival - Cincinnati, OH
Derby City Cup – Louisville, KY
Pan Am Championships - Louisville, KY
Los Angeles, CA (Nov 18 + 19)
Ruts N Guts CX – Broken Arrow, OK (Dec 2 + 3)
USA National Championships – Reno, NV (Jan 9-14)
UCI World Championships – Valkenburg-Limburg, NED