As the 2017/18 cyclo-cross season rolls through it’s final months, riders from the Van Dessel Factory Racing Team and NWCX Project have their sights firmly set on their respective National Championships.
Van Dessel Factory Racing’s Elite Women dominated the final ProCx Elite Women’s standings with French rider Caroline Mani clinching the overall title with nine podium finishes- including late season wins at Ruts and Guts, SoCal Cx and Cyntergy Hurtland- before heading into her final block of European racing.
Cassie Maximenko, recovering strongly from an injury plagued 2016 season, finished 7th overall and Sunny Gilbert, who had her most consistent season to date with seven UCI podiums, finished 9th overall. All three riders are now focused on final preparations for their respective National Championships. Gilbert will join Mani as she heads to Europe for a final block of hard racing. Mani, the reigning French National Championship, is determined to defend her title and will be focused exclusively on World Cups and World Championships for the remainder of the season.
Gilbert, looking to build on her excellent late season form, will be racing the storied Christmas week races in Azencross, Breden, Diegem and Baal in addition to toeing the line at the Zolder World Cup before heading home and on to Reno where she hopes to improve upon last year’s ninth place finish.
Maximenko, hoping to match or improve upon her best Nationals finish in Asheville in 2015 where she was 10th, has been focused on a rigorous block of training and is hoping to carry the late season momentum that saw her podium five times into a strong January ride.
Van Dessel’s youngest racer, the Colorado based Petra Schmidtmann, wrapped up her first season of continental travel on the domestic UCI cross circuit with a hard fought 3rd place in the Elite Women’s Colorado State Championship and will be wearing the Colorado State Championship jersey when she toes the line in the U19 category in Reno. Schmidtmann credits her teammates’ support and mentoring for her successful transition to the upper ranks of racing and is hoping to reward the team with a strong showing.
The riders of the NWCX Project also raced a dominant season with Heidi Franz winning the overall Cross Revolution and taking a strong 10th place at CrossVegas. Teammate Shannon Mallory had a super UCI campaign as well – notching several top 15 places including an 11th at the the PanAm Championships and 2nd in the U23 field at day 2 of Ruts and Guts. Team manager, Jessica Cutler, rode a perfect season and was undefeated in the single speed category capped off with her second straight State Championship title.
Looking ahead to Reno, the team will send Franz to compete with the Elite women where she is hoping for a strong result on the eve of her first professional road season with Rally. Mallory is looking not only for a national title in the U23 field but to secure a spot on the World Championship roster with a strong ride. Ellie Mitchell and Hayden Gizinski will both be fighting for top 17-18 finishes.