The this race ranks amongst the most epic cyclo-cross races in the country mainly due to the harsh and unpredictable weather conditions that typically strikes the weekend of December 4 and 5 in Portland, Oregon. The races mark the final round of the USGP that traditionally hosts a battle to the bitter end for the series championship title.
"What makes it epic? Weather is for sure a huge factor," said Joan Hanscom, co-coordinator of the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross (USGP) series. "We ran in a hurricane there in 2007 and we still had around 800 people race that day. The Gentle Lovers, a local team, had their wood burning hot tub out in the elements. Tents were blowing away, the Expo had to be shut down. The drum corps played throughout the storm. It was madness.
"It's more than the weather," she said. "It's the last USGP of the season and it has more than once come down to the last day, a tie-break type situation that determines the winners in the Elite fields so the racing is always intense."
The USGP begins with double rounds at the Planet Bike Cup in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and moves on to the Derby City Cup in Louisville, Kentucky, the city that will host the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships. The series recently added the New Belgium Cup held in Fort Collins, Colorado, which replaced a pair of Mercer Cup races previously held in New Jersey. The Stanley Portland Cup decided last year's series winners Ryan Trebon and Katerina Nash.
Wells was unstoppable on day 1 in Portland last year
"Last year it was cold, freezing fog on Saturday and overnight we had 60 mph winds roll in and they stayed with us all day," Hanscom said. "The registration and hospitality tent had to be leashed to big trucks to keep it from blowing away. And we still had huge crowds and fields.
"The fans are amazing! They're a passionate, 'cross savvy bunch in Portland and they race their own races with great enthusiasm before spectating with great enthusiasm. There's just this really cool combination of intensity and enthusiasm that runs all day. I love it."
Todd Wells (Specialized) and Katerina Nash (Team Luna) won their respective events on the first day. Nash repeated her win on the second day and Jeremy Powers topped the men's podium.