Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) won a bunch sprint finish and captured his first UCI-sanctioned cyclo-cross race at the North Carolina Grand Prix on Saturday. Matter proved fastest in the bunch kick to the line when he narrowly outpaced Davide Frattini (Hudz-Subaru) and Ryan Knapp (Bikereg.com).
"I'm not surprised because I was on at Fort Collins last weekend in tenth and I had good form coming into this race," Matter said. "I think everyone saved the energy to go for it with one lap to go. When it comes down to a sprint you never know what's going to happen so you've gotta go for it."
Small separations widened between a large lead group of roughly 12 riders on the last lap of the Elite men's 60-minute race. The reduced group blasted over the final steep ride-up and into a U-turn located 250 metres from the finish line. Frattini lead the group onto the paved finishing straightaway but was overtaken by Matter as they crossed the line.
"I wanted to be on Frattini's wheel and I was hoping to pass him on the wall but he went up it pretty good," Matter said. "At that point all I could do was try not to crash in the last corner and then go for it in the sprint. I was second wheel and I saw Frattini kick and with 20 meters to go it looked like he ran out of gears."
Dry and warm weather conditions made an otherwise demanding course resemble a grass laden criterium circuit at Jackson Park. It was a sharp contrast to the previous year's early-winter rain storm that turned the same course into one of the most challenging, proof of how much of a role the weather plays during the cyclo-cross season.
"I think everyone realized that there was nothing to break up the group, a little windy and some long sections in the back, even if you do get a gap everyone would bridge back up," Matter said. "I went hard to try to shake it up a little bit but no crazy attacks. I tried to just race smart and once I realized that we couldn't drop fifth through twelfth place, I knew it was going to come down to a sprint."
A large group of some 20 riders remained intact for the first two-thirds of the race. Frattini attributed the unusual 'cross race situation to the dry conditions and the series of lengthy straightaways that allowed the field to regroup after the few technically challenging sections.
"The course was wide open with long stretches," said Frattini who was pleased with his performance after taking a two-week break away from the bike. "The race turned out to be very tactical and the riders realized that the course was actually difficult to ride solo. I'm happy with my race and to be on the podium after a long break. I couldn't ask for a better result. I was close to winning but Brian passed me really well at the line. He deserved the win because he was going really good."
A crash in the opening laps took out one of the race favorites, Mark Lalonde (Cal Giant-Specialized). Lalonde was able to catch back up to the leading group that also including some of the nation's notable riders including Frattini, Matter and Knapp. Other notable top ten contenders were Eric Thompson (Maplelag Resort/Paramount Sports), Bryan Fawley (Dallas Bike Works/Park Place), Scott Frederick (Inland Construction), Robert Marion (American Classic) and Ryan Leech (Hilton Head Cycling). Just outside the top ten was the North Carolina Cyclo-cross Series overall leader Will Black (Moots).
"The key guys were watching each other closely today," said Knapp. "Today was not an easy race but if you played it right, followed the right people around and stayed out of trouble then it was a good race to be able to do with slightly tired legs.
"I felt like I was using my elbows more today than I've had to in the other 'cross races this year. It was a positioning race today because there were so many people still in the front group at the end of the race. I was getting antsy a little bit. I kept trying to hold back because you had to be infinitely stronger just to be able to get away from that group with all the long straightaways."
The Elite men will compete on a similar course at Jackson Park during the second round of the North Carolina Grand Prix.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||0:57:15|
|2||Davide Frattini (Ita) Hudz-Subaru||0:00:02|
|3||Ryan Knapp (USA) BikeReg.com||0:00:03|
|4||Mark Lalonde (USA) Specialized||0:00:04|
|5||Eric Thompson (USA)||0:00:06|
|6||Bryan Fawley (USA) Park Place Dealerships||0:00:14|
|7||Scott Frederick (USA) Inland Construction||0:00:18|
|8||Travis Livermon (USA) Mock Orange Racing||0:00:22|
|9||Ryan Iddings (USA) Redline||0:00:25|
|10||Robert Marion (USA)||0:00:36|
|11||Ryan Leach (USA)||0:00:54|
|12||Noah Metzler (USA)||0:00:56|
|13||Mitchell Kersting (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Focus Bikes||0:00:57|
|14||Will Black (USA)||0:01:15|
|15||Eric Muehl (USA) Industry Nine Factory||0:01:25|
|16||Brian Sheedy (USA)||0:01:27|
|17||Lucas Livermon (USA)||0:01:30|
|18||Chris Larsen (USA) ACE p/b Highland Brewing||0:01:35|
|19||Andrew Reardon (USA) Van Dessel / Real Design||0:01:49|
|20||Eric Wondergem (USA)||0:01:50|
|21||Tim Mosher (USA)||0:01:52|
|22||William Fyfe (USA)||0:01:53|
|23||Bradford Perley (USA)||0:02:30|
|24||Joshua Snead (USA) Bay 101-HRS-Rock Lobster||0:02:35|
|25||Noah Niwinski (USA)||0:03:11|
|26||Katriel Statman (USA)||0:03:12|
|27||Nathan Wyatt (USA) Carolina Fatz p/b Industry Nine||0:03:18|
|28||Joshua Whitmore (USA)||0:03:19|
|29||Alex Ryan (USA)||0:03:22|
|30||Andy Applegate (USA)||0:03:32|
|31||Eric Marland (USA)||0:03:46|
|32||Christopher Nevitt (USA)||0:04:01|
|33||Christopher Consorto (USA) Louis Garneau-Team TBB||0:04:24|
|34||Christopher Dale (USA)||0:04:46|
|35||Josh Stevens (USA)||0:05:07|
|36||Andy Baker (USA)||0:05:20|
|37||Davy Yeater (USA) River City Bicycles-Cannondale||0:05:43|
|38||David McNeal (USA) Birmingham Bicycle Company||0:06:12|
|39||Kip Spaude (USA)||0:06:17|
|40||Frank Travieso (USA)||0:06:21|
|41||Mike Kennedy (USA) Bob's Red Mill||0:06:32|
|42||Robert Jameson (USA)||0:06:52|
|43||Zachary Adams (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes|
|44||Reid Beloni (USA)|
|45||David Thomas (USA)|
|46||Mark Babcock (USA)|