Brevard seeks first Division I cyclocross championship on home turf

BREVARD, N.C. – After winning three consecutive cyclocross national championships at the Division II level of collegiate cycling, Brevard will attempt to win its first-ever Division I title in front of its hometown fans at the USA Cycling National Championship on Friday and Saturday at the Biltmore Estate.


“Last year at Road Nationals, which were also held in the Asheville area, we had President Joyce and other members of the BC community at the race to show their support,” said head coach Brad Perley. “This weekend promises to offer some very exciting racing, and I hope that many members of ‘Nado Nation’ are able to make their way to Biltmore to cheer us on.”


“I couldn’t be more excited to head to nationals this year,” added Allison Arensman, who helped the Tornados to last year’s championship with a win in the individual omnium. “Having the event in Asheville definitely offers a home-field advantage for Brevard. This team is pumped to meet the challenge of our first Division I cyclocross national championship.”


Cyclocross is considered by many in the cycling community to be the most spectator-friendly discipline and is uniquely structured for wintertime events. Riders compete on a closed course that provides optimal viewing locations, dismounting and carrying their bikes on each lap to fight difficult terrain, varying surfaces, and obstacles. Each lap is 1.86 miles long, and riders compete for predetermined lengths of time rather than a set number of laps.


Biltmore won the right to host this year’s event after beginning the bidding process in 2010. The venue’s proximity provides the Brevard community a unique opportunity to watch the Tornados chase their first Division I championship of any kind. The Tornados’ previous cyclocross titles have come in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Texas, with this year’s event marking the first-ever national championship event in the discipline to be held in the Southeast.


“We are extremely excited to have this event essentially in our back yard,” Perley continued. “There has never been an event of this caliber at this venue, so we’re getting to take part in something really new and exciting. It also provides us a bit of an advantage—we’ve been traveling back and forth to the race course all week to practice and ensure that we’re fully prepared for race day.”


“With the site being so close to campus, our team has the opportunity to dive right into our main focus of consistently racing to the best of our ability without worrying about travel fatigue,” said senior Sarah Hill, who finished second in last year’s individual omnium and was part of Brevard’s title-winning relay team. “I can’t think of a better way to start my last year than with an adrenaline-pumping race in Asheville.”


Despite the team racing in its first-ever Division I cyclocross championship, Perley believes the Tornados can contend for a fourth national title in the discipline after finishing second at Mountain Bike Nationals in October. “I believe we are going in as a bit of a dark horse. While there are a bunch of very established teams with deep levels of talent, I am very confident in our group of riders. We have proven that we are a top-tier national contender at the Division I level, and I expect the BC talent and drive to be on display once again this weekend.”


The Tornado men will compete at 10:00 a.m. Friday in a 50-minute race, with the women taking the course at 1:20 p.m. for 40 minutes. The team relay will take place at 10:55 a.m. Saturday. All races will take place at Antler Hill Village on the Biltmore Estate property. Spectators can purchase Event Access Wristbands for $16.05 at the Group Sales Office, which is the first building on the right after entering the estate. Biltmore officials recommend allowing 45 minutes to travel to the race site after entering the property.

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