Curtis White Top 10 Finish CX Worlds
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Athlete's Corner

Curtis White Tells Fans to Bring Their Cowbells

By: Jim Rusnak  January 25, 2022

White is excited to have the fans experience high-level cyclocross back in the U.S.

Curtis White has represented the United States at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships eight times over the course of his career. Each time has been an honor and a privilege, but to have the opportunity to do it on his home soil brings him another level of pride.

White, 26, of Delanson, N.Y., will experience that high honor again this this week as one of the 38 American athletes competing at the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. It’s the second time in his career he’s competed at a World Championships in the U.S. The first was as a junior racer in 2013 in Louisville, Ky.

“It’s incredible to see just how far the sport has come since the last time the World Championships were here,” White said. “To come back as an Elite with goals and aspirations to compete in the top ten, it’s really exciting, and I’m really looking forward to it, especially coming back from the pandemic and everything that’s been going on in the last couple years.”

White’s grateful to all the people who have worked behind the scenes to make this event happen, giving him and the other American athletes a platform to showcase their talents in front of a home crowd.

“The World Championships are coming to U.S. soil,” he said. “Everyone’s now on our turf, and we get to show them how we operate.”
The Pandemic

The last two years haven’t been easy for anyone, and White hasn’t been exempted from the ups, downs and challenges presented by the pandemic. Before the pandemic hit, he made it his long-term goal to compete at these World Championships. He dedicated his training to this competition, to becoming the absolute best version of himself as an athlete.

But neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the pandemic and the chaos it would inflict on the world. As with many athletes, it completely uprooted his training process, travel plans and competition schedule.

Fortunately, his team,, was one of the few to be able to train in Europe during the 2020-21 season. White said it required a massive effort from his mechanics, team staff sponsors and supporters to make it happen.

And as they headed into the 2021-22 season, they were still dealing with many of the same difficulties. Last month, they cut their training and competition block in Europe short due to COVID restrictions in Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

“It was really difficult to be honest,” White said. “I think there was a lot of mental strength that I needed to get through this pandemic. It definitely had its challenges, but with that, it provided a lot of opportunities to really know myself as an athlete – what works for myself, what works for my recovery process, and really just dialing that in.”

Home Field Advantage

White has been back in the States for a few weeks now and is ready to compete in Fayetteville. He’s currently at training camp, gearing up for this week’s race, where he’s got his sights set on a top ten finish.

He says competing on his home turf gives him more of a home court advantage to accomplish that goal. There’s the physiological component of being acclimated to the time zone. The mental aspect of having competed in both road and cyclocross races in Fayetteville. The familiar language. The familiar culture.

“It’s always a real privilege when you have a World Championships on your home soil, because you have all those little things,” White said. “You know exactly where everything is in a grocery store, or your family is close by. There’s just a little more peace and calm to the environment.”

Family support is probably the most important thing of all for White. His family is making the trek to Fayetteville to cheer him on as he chases his goals this weekend.

“They’ve been supporting me as an athlete for as long as I can remember,” White said. “To have them there at a World Championships is huge. That’s something we don’t often get when we go to Europe.”

As far as the competition itself, White will be keying in on a few things to help him achieve his goal of a top-ten finish: trusting his training process and knowing he’s done all the work he can; being grateful for his family, friends, teammates, sponsors and all the people who have supported him along the way and made this race possible; and getting ready to fight.

“The greatest thing you can do in sport is to leave it all out there,” said White.

He’s been looking forward to this race for a long time now. Hopefully, he’ll be able to add to his long list of career accomplishments, which include a win at the 2018 Pan-Am Continental Championships, a second-place finish at the 2018 and 2019 USA Professional Cyclo-cross National Championships, and a 15th-place finish in the UCI international rankings after the 2019-2020 season.

“I felt like over the last couple of years I’ve been able to make strong gains, both physiologically and technically,” he said. “I feel like with a clean race I can be at that top-ten level. It’s the world championships. Everyone’s bringing their best. When lights go from red to green, there’s nothing left to control. Just responding well and giving it 100 percent.”

Growing the Sport in the U.S.

In addition to his competitive goals, White thinks hosting the Cyclocross World Championships in the U.S. will provide a huge opportunity for the growth of the sport in this country.

First, fans who might never have experienced a world championship cycling event will witness firsthand just how accessible the athletes are to the fans, and how much of a family environment these races are. They will also be standing mere feet away from all the action.

To make the most of the experience, White says fans should bring a cowbell or something to make a lot of noise, and get ready to have a good time.

“You’re almost face-to face with the athletes,” White said. “You could reach out and almost touch your favorite athlete or see their struggle right in front of you. Anyone can come and enjoy themselves and watch high-level sport right in front of them. It’s such a cool and unique part of cycling and cyclocross, specifically. If we can showcase that to a broader audience, that’s something that is really unique and special.”

Then there’s the sponsorship of a large corporation like Walmart, which is headquartered down the road from Fayetteville in nearby Bentonville. Its involvement speaks to the promise of the sports’ growth in years to come.

“It’s a good indicator of where our sport is going the next couple years,” White said. “We’re finishing off the season with a massive event like the World Championships in the U.S., with big corporate involvement and a lot of people coming out to watch and enjoy. What better way to showcase U.S. Cyclocross?”

USA Cycling relies on thousands of individual annual contributions from cyclists and other supporters of our mission to champion the sport of cycling in America. These contributions fund programs like the European racing development camp and the World Championships, as well as many other elite-level development so the Stars and Stripes shine on world-class podiums. Let's grow the sport of cycling together.