By Brecht Decaluwé in Hoogerheide, Netherlands
Not too much was expected from the English-speaking racers competing in the junior and Under 23 cyclo-cross UCI World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, on Saturday, and in fact, there were no surprise medal-winning performances.
In the Under 23 race, British racer David Fletcher finished seventeenth and Bjorn Selander ended up ten places back as the top American, in 27th place.
"Sometimes you got to go with that," said Selander. "A lot of good guys had poor luck today. Some guys crashed in front of me during the first lap. I kept going for it though and I was able to move up. The start was key of course."
"I broke my front derailleur but luckily I was right near the pit; it happened at the perfect place. Danny [Summerhill] was in the same group as me. He tried to get away but a bit later he was caught. I don't know what happened with him. Then I tried as well, and I got away. I felt good and I kept going for it. It was a great course although I would have preferred it to be a bit more muddy. That makes it easier to move up," Selander said.
Summerhill finished 32nd while Canada's top performer was Andrew Thomas in 47th.
Before the junior men's race, which was run prior to the U23 race, it looked like the American juniors had a good chance on the podium, but in the end they missed it by a lot. US National Champion Zach McDonald crashed twice and rolled over the finish line as nineteenth rider.
"I felt pretty good at the start but an Italian came down, and I couldn't avoid him. I twisted my handlebars and I had to pit, and that makes you lose fifteen positions over here. The next lap another Italian took me down as well after the fly-over, with the same result. I rode pretty well and although a good result would've been nice, I didn't need it to come back to race here," McDonald said.
In the end, it was Luke Keogh who finished as first American junior although he wasn't happy with his thirteenth place. "I had to start from the fourth row and after the start, it all stuck together. There was a crash and I ended up being behind it, then it's over. We were working hard to get back in our group, and I was able to win the sprint of the second chasing group.
"I already started my sprint in the field and kept going on the uphill road towards the finish line. I don't think somebody thought about jumping away behind my back," Keogh said.
"The whole year was a great experience. I'll be back here," Keogh promised about his future racing in Europe.