Earning the right to wear your country’s colours is one of cycling’s highest honours, a visible distinction that marks a racer out as one of the best their nation has to offer. In January 2016, Jeremy Powers took his fourth US national title, while Ellen Noble successfully defended her under-23. We caught up with both riders as they prepare to defend their titles at the Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, CT.
Jeremy Powers on reputation and respect
I never won a national title as a junior or under-23. I was regularly expected to win, and I finished second plenty of times, but I never got to wear the crown. Watching the other riders, my peers, win nationals was tough.
I beat them in other races, but when it came to the national championships it never worked out – I didn’t have the legs, or I had a mechanical. As a senior, I spent five years working towards winning that first national championship in Madison in 2012.
Wearing the jersey in the States gets you noticed, in the best possible way. And when you get to Europe, the jersey carries its own reputation. People might not know who you are, but they know what you are. Jonathan Page was one of the first guys to race a lot in Europe wearing the champion’s jersey, and he left a lasting impression of American cyclocross in Belgium. Everyone who has worn the jersey since then is part of that heritage.
I’ve worn this jersey to some good results in Europe, results that I’m really proud of. But the thing to note is that the jersey means something, and I take pride in that more than anything.
The best part of winning a national title is being able to go out to dinner with my family after the race, and just smiling and enjoying the moment.
Ellen Noble on pride and prestige
I think I raced against a national champion in my first ever cyclocross race. Emma White was the age group champion – we must have been 12 or so – and she was wearing the red, white and blue jersey. I remember driving home after the race with my Dad, and he told me he had no doubt that I could win nationals one day, if I wanted to.
I won my first national title about six months after he passed away.
I’m the under-23 champion now, but I mostly race with the senior women, so I don’t get to show off the stars and stripes every week. There’s a feeling of pride that comes with wearing the champion’s jersey, and a bit of pressure too. I get the same feeling when I wear the Team USA kit at the World Championships.
Jeremy has worn his championship jersey for four out of the past five years, or something like that, so I think people forget what our ‘normal’ racing jerseys look like. I don’t know about him, but whenever I pull on the jersey I look at it and think, ‘oh yeah, I won nationals’. It’s a nice feeling.