Brunner National Champion
Team USA
Athlete's Corner

Elite National Champion Eric Brunner Is Hoping for a Dry Fayetteville Course

By: Guillermo Rojas  January 27, 2022

Based on the forecast, he might get what he wants.

When you review Eric Brunner’s young but very accomplished cycling career, you first notice his diversity within the sport of cycling and then you notice his non-traditional path. In a few days, Eric will be leading his Team USA teammates as they compete in the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. When you analyze his career, it’s easy to see how he qualified for Team USA this year, but the more interesting story is how he built his career.

Rewinding Eric Brunner’s timeline, he started racing at age 11. He almost always found himself on podiums as he worked his way up the Junior ranks, similar to Curtis White, Gage Hecht and other elites that he will be racing with and against in Fayetteville this weekend. Eric hasn’t just focused on cyclocross, as a member of Boulder Junior Cycling, he also competed in road and mountain bike races. Introduced to the sport by both of his parents; he was raised riding bikes with his family and watched his father in cycling races, while his mother raced triathlons and competed in running races.

Brunner used his foundation to launch his well-rounded cycling career. Racing across all three disciplines, he quickly became a national name as a Junior and U23 rider. In 2015, he captured his first podium at Cyclocross Nationals as a Junior. From 2017 to 2019, as a U23 rider, he podiumed three times at Nationals, with a victory in 2019. Those National Championship podiums lead to being part of Team USA at the 2020 Cyclocross Worlds, with 13th place. All while earning his Business Degree at University of Colorado-Boulder.

On Sunday, Eric will be representing Team USA at Worlds for the fourth time, but the first time at the elite level. The road to Fayetteville was very different than his fellow Team USA teammates. After an exhausting 2021 road season, Brunner made the decision to race domestically with his Blue-Stages Racing team instead of heading to Europe. In his first-year racing Elite, he won four UCI races on U.S. soil, including the Pan American Championships. Even when Eric didn’t win, he learned valuable lessons during the race season. His confidence grew after a third-place finish at Jingle Cross, with a broken chain and against top talent, he found the podium. At Kings CX, he won a strategic battle against Kerry Werner. Now going into Worlds, Brunner is on a hot streak, winning five of his last six races, including a fast, dry Pan Am Championships and a muddy 2021 USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships.

Eric’s goal for this weekend is a top 20 finish, maybe a top 15. In October at the Fayetteville World Cup, Brunner finished 21st on a similar course to what he will see at Worlds, but it was muddy. He’s a well-rounded rider, who has confidence in his technical skills and has improved on muddy courses. When you dig deep and analyze his results, dry fast courses are where Eric excels. When asked about the course, he said, “If the Fayetteville course is dry, it’s one of the fastest courses out there and I really like that. I think it’s going to be an excellent opportunity for me.” With no precipitation forecasted for the weekend, Eric may get his dry course for Sunday’s race. If he gets a third row start and manages his energy over the climb, lap after lap, look for Brunner to surpass his own goals for Worlds.