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National Championships

2023 Cyclocross National Championships Preview with Drew Dillman

By: Jim Rutberg  November 30, 2023

We hope to see you in Louisville or the 2023 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships December 5-10.

Andrew “Drew” Dillman has raced nearly every USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championship since 2008, when he placed seventh in the Junior Men’s 15-16 category. He has raced Nationals all over the country, even in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., in 2018. As the 2023 National Championships get set to return to Louisville from Dec. 5-10, Dillman is excited to welcome friends and competitors to the town that hosted several USA Cycling National Championships as well as the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in 2013.

Racing in Joe Creason Park

The 2023 Cyclocross National Championships will be held at Joe Creason Park, the same venue that hosted the national championships in 2018.

“If people are coming back to Joe Creason Park, they’ll notice some differences from the 2018 course,” said Dillman, who joined Greg Fante, Louisville Sports Commission President & CEO, to film a course preview video. Notably, the start/finish will be in a different location, with the final barrier section close to the transition to pavement just before the finishing straight. (View the course maps in the Tech Guide). “On the course map they showed me, the barriers appeared to be very close to the pavement, which I think could be a game changer,” commented Dillman. “If you can hop those barriers, it's a huge advantage because that could create a gap and then you could hit the pavement before other cyclists and outsprint them.”

Race organizers have laid out four course variations to accommodate the range of competitive categories. Except for the “red course” used by the youngest juniors, all courses feature two sets of stairs and a flyover. A key component of the course is a wooded hillside behind the Louisville Parks and Recreation building. The “black course” used by the UCI fields, Junior 17-18, U23, and Elite fields incorporates more trips up and down the hillside before reaching the course’s iconic limestone stairs.

Dillman believes the hillside and stairs section of the course will play a significant role in the outcome of races. “In 2018, it was so muddy that people were running well before the stairs. If it’s dry or slightly muddy, it’ll be a test of who can ride versus run and which is faster. After the stairs, you still have to dive down the hill and back up again. That area will be exciting to watch, and to ride!”

Louisville’s Championship Culture

Louisville, Ky., has hosted numerous major cycling events. In addition to Cyclocross Nationals, Pan-American Championships, and World Championships, the area has also hosted UCI BMX World Championships in 2001, Amateur Road National Championships in 2016-2017, and Masters Road National Championships in 2003 and 2008-2010. “Our city isn't afraid to take on big events, which is pretty cool. I think it has a lot to do with one guy – Greg Fante - who's a huge cycling fan. I think he just has a passion for cycling, and he sees that it's good for the city.”

Visiting Louisville

Dillman encourages cyclists and spectators traveling to Louisville to enjoy the region’s attractions away from the racecourse, too. Attractions include the iconic Churchill Downs and Kentucky Derby Museum, along with Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of Muhammad Ali’s Footsteps of Greatness. For bourbon enthusiasts, the Urban Bourbon Experience includes more than 10 distilleries that are open for public tours and tastings. Similarly, the Urban Bourbon Trail includes more than 35 bars and restaurants with more than 60 bourbons and bourbon-inspired dishes.

For the Juniors and the young at heart, Dillman suggests Activate, which offers multiple high-tech games that test players’ physical and mental agility. Each game lasts just one to three minutes, with players’ scores recorded on electronic wristbands. “My wife and I went to Activate and it was a blast. If I were on a junior cyclocross team – or any team – I’d totally want to go there with my teammates.”

For a truly local dining experience, Dillman recommends Shack in the Back BBQ in Fairdale, Ky., on Louisville’s south side. “If you came to Louisville, you would never find this on your own unless somebody told you to go there. It's an out-of-the way little barbecue place and I highly recommend it for a post-race celebration meal. It’s my favorite restaurant, although I might be totally biased because it's right down the street from my house!”

Competitions to Watch

With the best U.S. cyclocross racers set to converge on Louisville, there are many riders to watch. On the Elite Men’s side, athletes that stand out to Dillman include Curtis White, Eric Brunner, Andrew Strohmeyer, and Gage Hecht. “I think everybody is a fan of Curtis White in the Stars and Stripes,” Dillman said. “So, I think people want to see him win again. But right now, I think Eric Brunner is the favorite to win because he’s been so strong and consistent. Andrew Strohmeyer has been crushing it, too. Early in the season when the Europeans were racing in the U.S., he was often the highest-placed American. And then the wildcard is Gage Hecht, who is returning to ‘cross after two years on the road with Human Powered Health.”

About the Elite Women’s race, Dillman commented, “In my view, Clara Honsinger is the hands-down favorite. She’s won the past two years. I think Raylyn Nuss and Katie Clouse are both hungry to win, too. And Lauren Zoerner won the U23 Pan-American Championship, so she must be the favorite to win the U23 National Championship.” Honsinger, Clouse, and Nuss finished second, third, and fourth, respectively, in the recent Pan-American Cyclocross Championship in Missoula, Mont.

Keep up to date with race details on the 2023 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships event website. For information on Louisville attractions, lodging, and more, visit GoToLouisville.com.