Last weekend, everyone was curious to see if the new course at the Eva Bandman Park in Louisville could deliver a high quality, world championship-level course for the Exergy US Gran Prix of Cyclocross weekend. And boy did the Louisville 2013 folks deliver.
“Definitely world caliber, definitely one of the hardest courses we’ve done in the United States.” said Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) who claimed the win on both days.
Winner on both days, and USA Cyclocross Champion Katie Compton (Rabobank-Giant) called the course “really fast and hard”. She added when asked how it compared to a World Cup course, “All the turns are pretty quick so there’s less stop and go, hard braking and accelerating. It was fast, the wind made it difficult too.”
Powers added, “This venue specifically has got some definitely steep sections that make it really hard in the legs later in the race, you start to feel it and that makes it similar to Europe where the course actually dictates who’s better on the day. The course has its own little things that suit each rider. This is definitely a really hard course, a lot of pedaling and overall really awesome venue and we’re really lucky to have it.”
The newly designed course was tough and challenged riders in many ways, from a fixed fly-over, to pump-track style lines through the wooded sections, runups that forced many of the top pros off their bikes and many off-camber sections. Speaking of off-camber, the tricky sloping uphill sandpit on Sunday was a great addition, it surprised many and caused traffic jams at the start. At 3.5-km, the course was the longest allowed by the UCI. It was slightly modified and made even better on Sunday.
“This course was definitely a lot faster in my opinion.” Powers said of the Sunday course. “It had a lot more turns and again similar to yesterday, it left you gassed in all the wrong places, make a lot of mistakes from just being really tired in the wrong sections, sand section, off camber up hill sections where you just lose your balance, that really steep hill in the back, there were a lot of sections that really took a lot of power, a lot of torque but there was also a lot of sections where you could make mistakes.”
All and all, the riders are excited about the world coming to Louisville in 2013.
“I think the courses here in Louisville are getting to a place where it’s going to be good for Worlds. There’s a lot of new terrain back in the woods that we didn’t use last year, there’s a lot of transitions that weren’t around so we’re getting a feel for what it can have. I think we have a group of one hundred best riders in the world, I think the show is going to be here and I think it’s going to be good.” said Tim Johnson (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld).
Canadian Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) is working on settling his sponsor situation for next year and hopes to come back. “It will be fun. I have a lot of question marks of what’s going to happen the next little bit with a job but hopefully I’ll be with a program that’s into cyclocross. It’s something that I love and I’d loved to come back here and race for Canada.”
“It’s going to be a hard course.” said Meredith Miller (CalGiant) of the 2013 Worlds. “I’m curious to see what changes they’ll make, if they’ll expand it a little bit more for Worlds, or if this is but this is a great venue. There’s much shorter elevation gains here so in the big picture, there might be equal elevation. Having just done the Tabor World Cup, I just remember the long gradual climbs which we don’t have here but it’s just a different type of course, it’s hard all the same.”
The man with the fastest lap on Sunday with a 7:49, reigning USA Cross Champion Todd Wells (Specialized) is also looking forwards to the race. “I definitely want to go.” said Wells who finished second on Sunday. “Making the team is going to be tough. Like Powers said there are a lot of good guys coming up and a lot of established guys seem to be getting faster and faster. Generally I’m able to come on a little later in the year and now with Nationals being later, Cross Worlds are later, I feel like I get in some pretty good form. Hopefully I’ll be here.”
Compton concluded, “The course has been really good. Two different courses both days, both pretty fun, technical, really fast. Being in Louisville has been great, people here are awesome, the city is fun, I really enjoy it here so really excited for 2013 World Championships.”
Of course, there are still things to be improved such as spectator movement and flow but it looks very promising. The real test of venue will come at the 2012 Masters World Championships on January 12-15, 2012.