Cyclists vie for continental title in ‘electric’ atmosphere

Almost none of the best professional cyclocross racers in the Western Hemisphere had been to Missoula before coming to town for the Pan-American Championships this past weekend. But they seem to universally agree they’ll be back. 

The joint continental championship event for North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean was held at Lindborg-Cregg Memorial Field and Missoula Big Sky Park along Tower Road on Missoula’s southwest side Nov. 4–5. Hundreds of riders, mostly from the U.S. and Canada, took to the muddy, twisty course lined with even more cheering spectators. Among the best riders from around the hemisphere were a slew of Missoulians, many of whom won their races or recorded strong finishes against a world-class field of riders. Meanwhile, beer, music and hundreds of cheering fans created a party-like atmosphere around the course.

The race, one notch below the annual Cyclocross World Championships, is one of the highest-level sporting events to come to Missoula. Pan-Ams will be held in Missoula next fall, too. This year, Nov. 4–5 was the weekend mandated for all continental cyclocross championships by the Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling’s international governing body. The Pan-American Cycling Confederation announced their decision to place the 2023 and ’24 championships in Missoula in February.

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