Cyclocross Champ

After a year of personal trials that were tougher than even the hardest cyclocross course she ever faced, Elle Anderson made some big leaps in 2016 as former ski racer from Stowe, Vt., proved herself a very versatile athlete.

The year started in January with a fourth in the U.S. Cyclocross Nationals. Then, in April,  jumped into the U.S. National Criterium Championships as a road racer and took second place. This past fall, she started off her European ‘cross season with two strong third place finishes in races in Belgium against some of the toughest competitors on the international cyclocross circuit—the Kermiscross Ardooie on October 20 and then the Soudal Classics Hasselt on November 19.

For the 28-year-old who manages her own professional race program, these victories held added meaning because, as she told Vermont Sports in “Raising Elle,” Nov. 2016, “There was a moment when I finally gave myself permission to put the bike aside for however long it would take.”

At that time, following her first year racing alone on the European circuit and living alone with a foreign host, Anderson fell into depression. Her host was verbally abusive and, as it was discovered this past October, a suspect in an international cocaine smuggling ring. When his abuse got to the point where she had to lock herself in her room, Anderson fled—but the experience shook her.

After spending time in San Francisco, where she works for the cycling software and computer company Strava, Anderson began to recover. She came home to Stowe and rode the trails behind her home last summer. “What happened last summer allowed me to dig even deeper and gain perspective and to be grateful for everywhere I’ve been,” she said.

In her first race on the World Cup circuit this season, she earned a 33rd-place finish. But count on Anderson to keep fighting her way toward the top. —L.L.

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