Jesse Anthony and Keira Bond 2021 Europe
Team USA

Jesse Anthony is Just Getting Started

By: Jim Rutberg  February 01, 2022

USA Cycling Cyclocross Director, Jesse Anthony, talks all things Cyclocross

For USA Cycling Cyclocross Director Jesse Anthony, the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships is not just the culmination of years of development work; it’s the start of a resurgence of U.S. riders to the top of the sport.

“To me, [the World Championships] is a kick-off party, a surge in energy and momentum for US cyclocross. We have a lot of talented riders. A great new series, the USCX Series, started this year. The sport is being reinvigorated and I see this as a jumping off point for US cyclocross to reach new heights in terms of competition, the number of events, and audience engagement.”

He credits local and regional cyclocross race promoters for driving much of the renewed enthusiasm for the sport, along with efforts of Experience Fayetteville to host and promote the World Championships to an international audience.

A Director with a Racer’s Eye

Anthony has been leading the USA Cycling Cyclocross Program since 2018, with a long-term vision of nurturing young and emerging riders to reach elite podiums in international competitions. In just a few years, his efforts are already bearing fruit. A record number of 38 riders will represent USA Cycling at the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Cyclocross favors riders who can recognize and capitalize on opportunities. For Anthony, a retired professional cyclocross and road racer, that meant changing his initial strategies for developing the cyclocross program. “At first, I was focusing much more on growing participation, so grassroots programs and increasing the total number of cyclocross riders. What I realized, though, is that there are teams and programs around the US already doing good development work with junior and U23 cyclocross racers. There are local cyclocross series popping up all over. The impactful role for USA Cycling, then, is to support that regional development and create the high-performance environment to take national-level riders to the international level.”

Anthony highlighted the importance of supporting local, regional, and national race series to sustain a development pipeline for young athletes. He added, “Local promoters, series directors, and the USA Cycling Events Department play a big role in facilitating opportunities for young athletes to move forward in the sport.” The inclusion of junior and U23 categories at ProCX Calendar and USCX Series events, for instance, helps the best young athletes sharpen each other through competition. And following a hiatus due to COVID-19, Anthony is excited about the rebirth of Junior and U23 Cyclocross Development Camps in 2022.

Preparing for International Competitions

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and event cancellations, the USA Cycling Cyclocross Program didn’t take junior and U23 riders to Europe in 2020. That severely limited opportunities for some of the newest members of Team USA to experience international cyclocross competitions before the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships. A few riders got their first taste of European cyclocross racing during December 2021’s MudFund-supported trip to USA Cycling’s European base in Sittard, Netherlands.

Although access to European racing is important, Anthony also wants U.S. riders to recognize they are already prepared for international competition. He noted that although Belgium and the Netherlands stand out, the competitive level in the U.S. is on par with several European countries, including France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. “The perception of the performance gap to Europe is greater than the actual gap. The racing in Europe is harder and brings together the best cyclocross racers on the globe, but I caution new riders to not hold Europe on such a high pedestal. It’s just the next level of competition. It’s nothing to be intimidated by and success is achievable.” The director’s assertions proved true in early January when Katherine Sarkisov and Jack Spranger finished on the podium in their first week in European competition.

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.