Sam Brown first alternate for U23 men’s race
Guy Leshem, a junior from Fort Lewis College, will compete in the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclocross World Championships on Sunday in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Leshem, who is 24, will compete in the elite men’s cyclo-cross championship, representing his home country of Israel. Leshem will only be the second Israeli cyclist to compete in a cyclocross world championship.
“It’s pretty special,” he said of the portrayal of Israel. “I’m just happy to be here. But if I can inspire other Israelis to try (cyclo-cross), that would be great too.”
He said cyclo-cross is not that common in Israel, with most cyclists preferring mountain bike, road bike or track, so many cyclists don’t have the right equipment and don’t try to take part in major races. Cyclocross essentially combines mountain biking and road cycling. It takes place on a closed course through obstacles and natural elements like mud and sand, which makes it spectator friendly.
Leshem first tried cyclocross when he moved to Durango and joined the Fort Lewis cycling team. He said he borrowed a “really old bike” from the team at first, but still enjoyed it.
“I was thrilled because it’s so much fun, especially in muddy conditions,” Leshem said.
Mud, he said, adds unexpected conditions to races. “You don’t have to be the strongest, you just have to be fluid and you have to be creative to find the right lines,” he said.
“The cool thing about Guy is he never would have had the opportunity to ride cross country if he hadn’t come to Fort Lewis,” said FLC director of cycling Dave Hagen. .
This year, Leshem got his own cyclo-cross bike, which he called “pretty fun”, and did some other racing. At the 2021 U.S. National Cyclocross Cycling Championships in DuPage County, Illinois this fall, Leshem placed 10th in the varsity men’s varsity race. Leshem also led FLC in the varsity cross-country race in Purgatory in October with a fourth-place finish.
Sam Brown led the FLC men with a sixth-place finish at the CX Nationals, finishing 58 seconds ahead of Leshem in 56:14, and could also compete at the Worlds. Brown is the first substitute for the United States in the men’s U23 race.
“He prepared like he had a chance to go,” Hagen said.
Leshem was able to pre-ride the 3.1K course Thursday in Fayetteville. There was mud, but the conditions were pretty dry.
“It was pretty good,” Leshem said. “There are some tight switchbacks that were pretty muddy, but not too bad. There are also steep off-camber corners that were tricky.
“The site is amazing,” said USA Cycling CEO Brendan Quirk. “There are incredible features like the uphill climb of almost 40 steps, steep descents, challenging climbs and dramatic turns that will test the endurance and bike handling skills of every rider involved. “
Leshem said the laps last around 5-5.5 minutes and one of his goals is to complete the full championship distance on Sunday. “It’s going to be really tough,” he said, noting that riders who fall 80% behind the leaders will be cut off.
About 25 Durangoans will be there to cheer him on, said Hagen, who bought about 50 Israeli flags for the Leshem race.
“I’m excited to rock the people of Durango,” Leshem said.
The championships are being held in the United States for only the second time in the event’s 72-year history. The only other time the world championships were held in the United States was in 2013, when they were held in Louisville.
“It’s great for the United States to be able to put on a big race like this,” Hagen said. “Hopefully this increases the visibility of cyclocross and lets people know how much fun it is.”
Team USA will travel to Fayetteville with a strong group of contenders, including Clara Honsinger (Portland, Oregon; Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), who is the highest ranked American in the world, currently ranked sixth in the category Elite Women.
The new 2021 Pan Am Champions will also take the course. They include Eric Brunner of Boulder and Blue-Stages Racing; Raylyn Nuss of Lawrence, Kansas, and Steve Tilford Foundation Racing; Scott Funston of Maple Valley, Washington and Blue-Stages Racing; Madigan Munro of Boulder and Trek Factory Racing; and Jack Spranger of Sammamish, Washington, and Bear National Team.
Several competitors from Fort Lewis will also race in Arkansas. Colorado Mesa’s Funston, Katie Clouse and Munro will compete in the U23 races. Brevard College’s Tyler Orschel, who won a collegiate mountain bike title in Purgatory and the collegiate cyclocross title this year, will represent Canada in the men’s elite race.
“Having a world championship in the United States is always a great honor, and we are proud to field a full team of dedicated and qualified athletes who will compete in Fayetteville 2022,” said Jesse Anthony, director of USA Cycling Cyclocross.
The world championships began with a test event, the team relay, on Friday afternoon. Team USA A, represented by Brunner, Clouse, Clara Honsinger and Funston, finished second, seven seconds behind Italy in 31:07. Belgium finished third in 31:46.
On Saturday, U23 men, junior women and elite women will race.
On Sunday, junior men and U23 women will race. Then Leshem and the elite men will face off for the final rainbow jersey of the championships at 1:30 p.m. Mountain time.
“The venue has been fairly quiet without a lot of spectators, but I suspect it will be busier today,” Leshem said Friday morning. “But there are good vibes there, that’s for sure.”