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2015 Cyclocross national championships: singlespeed speculation

January 6, 2015
Brady Kappius holds onto second at the single speed national championship finish

Brady Kappius holds onto second at the 2014 singlespeed national championships

[updated 1/7/2015]

You could claim it doesn’t make any sense. And you’d be right. Bikes have lots of gears, and so many people say, “Racing with just one gear is totally illogical.” That’s probably why singlespeed enjoys a “fringe” status within cyclocross. Climbing a steep hill in one hard gear might be another reason.

But at least 189 athletes think singlespeed cyclocross racing is legitimate enough to register and race for a US national title in the single-geared contest tomorrow at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. In fact, based on the counts of registered riders on the USA Cycling website for each category of competition at cyclocross nationals, the men’s singlespeed group tops the list with 151 racers. That number exceeds the last three years’ field sizes. The 2015 women’s field of 38 is more than double the 2014 field.

One possible reason for that growth is the new for 2015 USAC rule that prevents riders from reaching for medals in both their masters age group and the elite categories. Riders can race in two championship competitions this year by tackling the singlespeed and elite categories. Tomorrow’s singlespeed races will be the first championship battles over five days of the national competition.

However, given the growth in the size of singlespeed fields here on the Front Range in Colorado, something else must attract riders to the challenge. Some enjoy the live or die choice of gear size they make based on the course conditions. Others like the test of their bike handling skills – finding out how much speed they can carry through corners, for example.

But fundamentally – at least from an observer’s perspective, singlespeeders have more fun. Whether it’s because they are good bike handlers or again trying to maintain speed, they’re more likely to bunny-hop barriers. They’re more likely to throw tricks if there’s a place to catch a decent amount of air. The wacky costumes some race in (Adam Craig raced in jean cut-offs in 2013 and won) and enough tattoo sleeves to employ an ink master for a year create a colorful atmosphere that excites spectators and hence makes suffering even more fun.

All that said, vying for a medal is of course serious business too. Here’s a look at those who might podium tomorrow while having a great time. For the past three years’ top five finishers, check the charts below. Find registered riders here.

Mo Bruno Roy on the 5280 Stairs at Valmont Bike Park

Mo Bruno Roy on the 5280 Stairs at Valmont Bike Park

Singlespeed divas

Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles). Winner of October’s Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships and last year’s national title, Bruno Roy will be tough to beat. She’s built up solid miles of singlespeed experience to handle varied conditions and has raced well recently.

Ellen Sherrill, 2nd in 2014 in Boulder

Ellen Sherrill, 2nd in 2014 in Boulder

Ellen Sherrill (Voler/HRS/Rock Lobster). Sherrill placed second in 2014 and fifth in 2013. She very nearly won the 2012 Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships, finishing second. Any woman who, like Sherrill, can through-hike the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail will be a tough competitor.

Jessica Cutler (Market Street Cycling Club). Perhaps all we need to know about Cutler is the outcome of a December 14th race called Kringle Kross; she won in the men’s mixed singlespeed category. She’s also earned several top 3s in UCI elite races this season and finished third in singlespeed at nationals last year.

In any ‘cross race the five podium spots could fall into many deserving hands, especially if the weather is bad. Additional women who could be there include Coloradoans Kristal Boni (Rapid Racing) and Rebecca Blatt (Van Dessel Factory Team). The absence of Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC), fifth in 2014 and second in 2013, should open up the race as well.

Place 2014 2013 2012
1 Maureen Bruno Roy Kari Studley Kari Studley
2 Ellen Sherrill Ellen Noble Meghan Korol
3 Jessica Cutler Amber Markey Lauri Webber
4 Amanda Nauman Katrina Dowidchuk Nicole Borem
5 Ellen Noble Ellen Sherrill Jennifer Maxwell

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Singlespeed dudes

Tim Allen wins Altitude Adjustment Cross single speed day 1

Tim Allen wins Altitude Adjustment Cross singlespeed day 1

Tim Allen (Feedback Sports), last year’s champion. Allen returns after a resounding win in 2014 when he assembled his one-geared cyclocross bike just days before the race. The flatter and what seems to be a less technical course in Austin compared to the 2014 design in Boulder is less favorable for him. But messy weather or slippery off-camber corners could change that.

Brady Kappius (CLIF Bar). The distinctively lanky Kappius just won’t give up until he wins this event. He finished second last year and fifth in 2012. A mechanical took him out of the race early in 2013. Based on his performance in the elite multi-geared race at the Colorado state championships in December, he’s fit. Like Allen, he’s better suited to more technical courses. He’s optimistic even so. “If it is pretty dry it can get slick, but it’s not as ideal [for me] as Boulder last year!” he wrote in a message. “Looks like some good twists and turns. It should be fun no matter what.”

Craig Etheridge in Madison, Wisconsin at the 2013 nationals

Craig Etheridge in Madison, Wisconsin at the 2013 nationals

Craig Etheridge (Raleigh Clement). Easily recognizable in civies due to his ginger hair, this north-westerner hasn’t placed in the top five in the last two years (he didn’t enter the race in 2012). However his singlespeed results this season through December have been stellar with multiple wins on the USAC Pro CX circuit. This could be his year to pull on a championship jersey.

Justin Lindine (Team Redline). The USAC prediction system scores Lindine as most likely to win. Based on the races reported at crossresults.com, he’s not a frequent singlespeeder, though he did enter this year’s Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships in late October. Is he a threat to the three men above even though some argue the prediction system isn’t the ideal way to select a favorite? Yes. He’s placed top three in his last trio of elite races, including second on day one at Resolution Cross Cup in Dallas last weekend. So he’s going well. And while he owns ten years of mountain biking singlespeed history, Allen didn’t have loads of cyclocross singlespeed experience in his legs when he won in Boulder.

A number of other guys should shape the race as well. Take into account Coloradoans Colby Pearce (Single Barrel CX), J.J. Clark, and Dan Porter (First City Cycling Team), as well as Adam Myerson (Astellas Cycling Team), Isaac Neff (5Nines/Motorless Motion) who was third in 2013, and local riders who will feed off the Texas fan frenzy.

Place 2014 2013 2012
1 Tim Allen Adam Craig Aaron Bradford
2 Brady Kappius Aaron Bradford JT Fountain
3 Corey Stelljes Isaac Neff Michael Gaertner
4 William Iaia Jared Nieters Scott Chapin
5 Colby Pearce Adam Myerson Brady Kappius

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For ProVéloPassion coverage of singlespeed national championships from 2012 to 2014, see these stories:

2012: “Course tape ruins Colorado Champ’s run at singlespeed cycocross national title

2013: “Craig and Kappius: single speed ‘cross nationals strategies and steeds

2013: “Singlespeed ‘cross nationals sweet for Adam Craig, sour for Brady Kappius

2014: “Singlespeed medals and mayhem at cyclocross nationals

2014: “Tim Allen, the likely unlikely 2014 singlespeed cyclocross national champion

 

 

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