photo_047570_670-1

The United States is going to have a new cyclocross champ pretty darn soon. Here’s who will win. 

US Nationals start Wednesday, with the big pro races coming up over the weekend. You probably have bookmarked and memorized the coverage over at Cyclocross Magazine by now, but have yet to enjoy any bold predictions. Well, make some room because you’re about to get a steaming pile of prediction right now.

It’s hard to compare some of the favorites heading to Madison. A handful of Americans (Jeremy Powers, Katie Compton, Jonathan Page, in particular) have ridden with European World Cups as the main targets, and making USGP starts primarily as fitness builders. That isn’t to say winning in the US isn’t a big deal, but for these guys, success is measured in Belgium, Czech Republic, France and the Euro starts. They haven’t faced riders in the US with polished form, like Ryan Trebon, Tim Johnson, Georgia Gould and Kaitie Antonneau.

That being said, the favorites are still going to be two names. Katie Compton is riding brilliantly in Europe, leading the points, while Jeremy Powers has had flashes of his top potential on and off. Those two will be marked heavily, and will have to ride with the burden of a blaze orange bulls eye on their backs. For Compton, it’s nothing new. For Powers, it’s a role he’s only become familiar with since winning the Stars and Stripes last year. The Rapha-Focus rider will have to ride with a maturity and poise that sometimes seems lacking when up against the best of the best in Europe.

Katie Compton’s first year with Trek Cyclocross Collective will end with at least a National Championship, if not a World Championship in February. The name on everyone’s lips to derail those plans is Georgia Gould, who has slapped together Olympic and World Championship bronzes, an Iceman Cometh victory, and the USGP of Cyclocross points title. Kaitie Antonneau could surprise in her home state, making the short trip to Madison on home turf and in the best form of her young career. Compton should win, but that doesn’t mean she will.

In spite of a solid season, Jeremy Powers has a bad vibe heading into Nationals. Watching the hulking figure of Ryan Trebon and his teammate Tim Johnson, Powers just doesn’t feel like a solid winner. Johnson’s form has very quietly and very steadily improved, with Trebon seems almost a lock on the podium every weekend. Throw in a resurgent Adam Craig, and it feels like a wide open race. This made not be a popular pick , but it is bold: Tim Johnson will win another national championship. Trebon has yet to truly master race tactics, while Powers just hasn’t been consistent on a lot of terrain to inspire as much confidence as a reigning National Champion should. Somehow, Johnson is going to make the right moves at the right times and sneak away to win the Stars and Stripes as the ‘old man’ on the scene.

Check back for links and updates throughout the week, and watch for more kolo t.c. profiles popping up over at Cyclocross Magazine.