Cobbles crash crushes American U23’s World Championship dream

Daniel Eaton slowed by a rider who fell on the rain-slicked cobbles

Cycling success can be a fickle place to put your dreams, and the USA under-23 team got a dramatic lesson Friday near the end of the World Championship road race in Richmond.

Logan Owen, the 20-year-old with the fast finishing kick, was feeling strong and confident on the final lap but started cramping in the last four kilometres and had to abandon his hopes for a podium finish. His teammate Daniel Eaton, meanwhile, was perfectly placed for a run to the line when a crash directly in front of him knocked him out of contention. Despite a boisterous partisan crowd lining the course and cheering them on, the US team could only manage to put Eaton into 48th as their best result.

"You always learn things in races," Eaton said immediately after the finish. "And sometimes bike racing can be kind of disappointing. I'm not the only guy who had bad luck. I saw multiple top guys who had mechanicals problems. It's a Classic type course and the stars have to align. Unfortunately, they didn't really align for us today. Hopefully we were able to keep the crowd happy and show up for the USA."

Following a powerful effort from teammate Colin Joyce, Eaton was well placed as the peloton approached Libby Hill, the first of two cobbled climbs that came in rapid succession in the final four kilometres.

"I was sitting fourth wheel, and the guy in third wheel slid out," Eaton said. "I had to slam the brakes on and I ran into him. I didn't crash but I lost 50 wheels, and at that point the race was over for me."

Owen, the team's other best hope for a medal late in the race, said a cramp at the bottom of Libby Hill put to rest his dreams of following fiancé Chloe Dygart, who earlier in the day won rainbow stripes in the junior women's race, onto the podium.

"It kind of took me awhile to ride into it, and then towards the end I felt pretty good," he said. "It was the first time I've cramped all year, and I cramped right at the bottom of the climb.

"I was really disappointed because the team was doing a good job of keeping me up there. I had to tell Danny, our road captain, to go kind for it. He was riding for me, too, so it as disappointing. I kind of feel like I let them down because of my body. My legs just shut down."

Owen said before the cramping his confidence was "through the roof."

"I felt amazing," he said. "But it's crazy how cycling goes. You can feel amazing one second and then the next second was just before the final climb and you feel terrible. You start to cramp and you can't even pedal." 

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