Zach McDonald (Rapha Focus) dominated the U23 men's championship, winning by 2:21 over silver medalist Cody Kaiser (California Giant-Specialized) and 3:07 ahead of bronze medalist Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team), new to the U23 ranks after winning the 17-18 junior men's title at the previous 'cross nationals.
McDonald erased the bitter memory of the 2010 U23 championship race in which he collided with a spectator while leading by a comfortable margin. He was ultimately passed by Danny Summerhill and finished with the silver medal.
This time around there would be no doubt, however, as he rode away from the 36-man field the initial time up the circuit's first and decisive climb and never looked back. At the conclusion of six laps of racing, McDonald punctuated his triumphant ride with a wheelie across the finish line.
"I just wanted to keep it hard the whole race because of the luck I've had in the past. I wanted to have a little bit of room for error so I got the gap and settled in. That was the goal and it worked out.
"It (the initial gap) started on the hill and I was able to grind it from there. After the first [hill] came I was able to keep it going on the second one and that's where I tried to really drive it in.
"I just wanted to keep the pressure, I definitely went harder on the first lap to try to open it up. There was some wind out there and I didn't want Cody to stay on my wheel and draft."
"I got the hole shot and gave it a good punch," said Kaiser. "We rolled together for the first half lap and then he (McDonald) definitely showed his cards."
The six-lap race went like clockwork for McDonald, and he was quick to credit his support crew for the victory.
"We got the pressure dialed and both of my bikes were running great. It was definitely a team effort, I was in the pit every lap. I made sure I got the clean bike and the clean wheels.
"It seemed to even dry out from the first lap, or maybe it was just because I had to take different lines on the first lap, but my bike was definitely alot dirtier on the first lap.
McDonald will also contest the elite men's championship on Sunday, but the Rapha Focus rider's main priority this weekend was winning the U23 title.
"We'll see what's left in the legs. This was the big goal. Just because of the luck I've had I wanted to drive it and not save too much for tomorrow.
"I didn't want to back down because when you back down you start to take different lines. You start hitting ruts you didn't normally see. I wanted to make sure I was still going hard through the corners and back off maybe a little on the straightaways."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zach Mcdonald (Team Rapha-Focus)||0:52:44|
|2||Cody Kaiser (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)||0:02:21|
|3||Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team)||0:03:07|
|4||Jesse Keough (Corner Cycle Cycling Club/Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross)||0:04:52|
|5||Joseph Welsh (Raleigh Allstars Cycling Club)||0:05:21|
|7||Kevin Fish (KCCX Fuji Elite Cyclocross Team p/b Challenge Tires)||0:07:40|
|8||Daniel Gerow (Wolverine Sports Club)||0:07:48|
|10||Patrick Bradley (Philadelphia Cyclocross School/Philadelphia Cyclocross School)||0:08:43|
|11||Ben Bertiger (The TEAM)||0:09:35|
|12||Zachary Semian (Van Dessel Factory Team)|
|13||Joseph Maloney (Team Wisconsin/KS Energy Services / Team Wisconsin)||0:09:57|
|14||Andrew Templeton (Team Cross (TCNM))||0:10:09|
|15||Eric Emsky (Cyclocrossracing.com)||0:10:37|
|-2laps||Thomas Mackay (Charm City Cycling LLC)|
|-2laps||Zeb King (Mock Orange Bikes/SmartStop / Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley)|
|-2laps||Austin Jones (Wake Forest University)|
|-3laps||Joshua Johnson (BikeReg.com Cycling Club)|
|-3laps||Brian Jorgensen (Central Oregon Community College)|
|-3laps||Davis Bentley (Above Category Racing)|
|-3laps||Alex Dayton (Mock Orange Bikes/SmartStop / Mock Orange Bikes p/b Ridley)|
|-3laps||Mitch Nordahl (Minnesota Junior Cycling Inc.)|
|-3laps||Cole Cutright (Northwest Velo/JL Velo Racing Team)|
|-3laps||Alexander Vaughan-Ruiz (The TEAM /The TEAM - SoCalCross)|
|-3laps||Samuel Bramel (Gopher Wheelmen/County Cycles)|
|-3laps||James Mccabe (Hearts Racing Club)|
|-3laps||Johnathan Freter (Don Walker Cycles Racing)|
|-4laps||Michael Dutczak (South Chicago Wheelmen)|
|DNF||Matthew Kuhn (HPC)|