After a 20-day hiatus, UCI Cyclo-cross racing returns to the United States with the Chicago Cross Cup New Year's Resolution, the final tune-up before the USA Cycling National Cyclo-cross Championships. Most of the top American elite men are braving the freezing weather to get another race in their legs, including Belgium-based Jonathan Page who is skipping the Rome World Cup to race in the cold Illinois weather.
Last year's slow heavy mud on the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort course has been replaced by frozen ground, making it much faster. Typical Illinois weather at this time of year is expected, cold! Highs in the low 30s F are in the forecast with the possibility of precipitation on Saturday. After days of cold weather, the course is frozen and fast lap times are in the cards
The elite men's field includes reigning US champion Jeremy Powers and his Rapha-Focus teammate Chris Jones, Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com teammates Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll, though their third teammate Ryan Trebon has decided to stay in warm Southern California. Trebon swept the weekend races last year in a duel with Powers. Also in the mix are the under23 riders Yannick Eckmann and Cody Kaiser of CalGiant/Specialized.
The elite women's field is wide open with the bigger names skipping the race in order to either race at the Rome World Cup, rest from European trip or get some more training in. Registered riders include Elle Anderson (LadiesFirst Racing), Katie Arnorld (Bob's Red Mill) and Rebecca Blatt (Van Dessel).
The 3.5-km course uses any sections of the ILR golf course including fairway, rough, cart paths, gravel paths, off-camber turns, sand traps and the hill made up of 'rejects' from the golf course maintenance.
Follow @ChiCrossCup on twitter for live update of the racing.