Sixteen years after the U.S. Cyclocross Nationals were held in Lakewood in 1997, the race finally returned to Colorado.
With conditions true cyclocross racers seek out-- from snow and mud to wind and massive cheering crowds-- Valmont Bike Park was the perfect venue for five days of world class racing.
With crowds large enough to make even the Europeans take notice, the fifth and final day of racing concluded with the men's and women's pro races. With an estimated crowd of 6,000 by [usacycling.org](usacycling.org) , professionals not only fought for the stars and stripe jerseys but the last of the invites to be a part of the U.S. team set to represent at the UCI Elite Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands in February.
Ending the fifth day of racing was the women's and men's elite races. While cowbells are the preferred method of cheering at a cross race, the sounds from the vuvuzela (made famous at the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa ) could be heard all along the course. One eager fan even had a train horn he would blow with compressed air signaling that the riders were getting close to the 5280' Run Up- one of the many obstacles causing racers to dismount along the XXX mile course.
After a disappointing sixth place at last years U.S. Cross Nationals, Jeremy Powers felt he had something to prove, taking off from the start. Ryan Trebon responded to the early attack, but at the end Powers put 43 seconds into the second place finisher. Three time U.S. Champ Tim Johnson would finish over a minute and half back.
Winning her 10th National Championship, Katie Compton led from the end of lap one to the finish. Elle Anderson while Meredith Miller fought hard for third. In all, 108 women completed the race.
Nicole Sulzen came from Lone Tree with her husband and two boys to watch the professionals race. "You couldn't pick a better to place to hold a championship than Boulder. All the best come out!" Colorado-based cycling fans just hope it won't take another 16 years for Nationals to return to the Centennial State.