Matt Shriver (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory) took a decisive victory in the North Carolina Grand Prix on Saturday with a brilliant solo effort, besting Italy's Davide Frattini (Team Fuji) by 28 seconds. Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) followed closely behind Frattini to nab the final podium spot seven seconds later.
Shriver's win in the UCI C2 event at Hendersonville, North Carolina was the first career UCI victory for the 29-year-old Colorado resident, a former road and cyclo-cross professional for the Jittery Joe's squad.
"I'm retired from full-time racing so it's funny to win in a UCI race for the first time ever," said Shriver. "This is my first UCI race since CrossVegas [this season]. I've been racing our local Fort Lewis series in Durango and the Four Corners area for some fitness.
"I thought I'd come out here with my teammate Grant Berry and get some [UCI] points. Nationals will be the next big race I do, so now I should be on the fourth row instead of the last row."
Fast and furious foursome to the fore
The morning chill was long-gone by the time the Elite men's event took place Saturday afternoon in Hendersonville's Jackson Park under blue skies and sunshine. Wisconsin's Brian Matter (Gear Grinder), making his North Carolina cyclo-cross debut, took the hole shot onto the grass after the initial foray on asphalt and kept his position at the front of a single-file field for most of the opening lap.
By the time the Elite men crested the "wall" for the first time and turned onto the paved start/finish straight six riders had established themselves at the head of the race: Davide Frattini (Team Fuji), Matt Shriver (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory), Jake Wells (Mafia Racing), Brian Matter (Gear Grinder), Eric Thompson (Lees-McRae College) and Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com). Following 10 seconds later were a chasing duo of Travis Livermon (Champion System-Cannondale) and Grant Berry (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory).
On the third of eight laps a further selection was made at the front with Shriver, Frattini, Matter and Wells forming a leading quartet which would remain intact until the race's endgame. For the next three laps the four leaders kept the chasing trio of Livermon, Knapp and Thompson at 20 seconds.
The sixth lap would prove decisive as Shriver and Frattini shed Matter and Wells while Livermon and Thompson dispatched Knapp.
"Davide and I got a little gap through the run up and then once we reached the pavement he hit it really hard," said Shriver. "We had a little gap but it started to come together. As soon as he let up I hit it again and kept the pressure all the way through the section in the woods. I kept the gas on and that's when we got the gap."
While the leading quartet had stayed together for several laps the tempo had been anything but steady with Shriver and Frattini putting in attacks.
"Matt [Shriver] was putting in a lot of work at the front," said Wells, another Colorado resident hoping to earn additional UCI points prior to 'cross nationals. "He kept making these accelerations that we had to counter. He took a lot of the sting out of my legs for sure. I felt really good, really comfortable, but when it came down to the final move from Matt I just couldn't react."
Brian Matter, too, was feeling comfortable but found himself out of position at crunch time.
"I was sitting in fourth when it went down," said Matter. "I think it was Davide [Frattini] that made the initial attack which gapped off Jake [Wells] a little bit. I was starting to come around Jake and about the same time I was trying to close the gap Matt counter-attacked Davide and really opened it up.
"I was feeling pretty good, definitely strong enough to be up in that lead group. I had a hole shot at the start, led the first lap and felt strong. I was riding good lines. I thought I raced a pretty smart race except for sitting in fourth wheel when that attack went."
One lap later, on the seventh and penultimate circuit, Shriver forced yet another selection as he cracked Frattini and set off on his solo bid for victory. "Davide had put on the pressure before and it was starting to yo-yo a bit and it came apart through the barriers," said Shriver. "I went through really quick and was on right away. I had a little gap which I extended through the turns. The bike was riding awesome and I got through the turns a lot quicker."
Frattini had no answer for Shriver and was quick to acknowledge his adversary's strength. "Matt and myself put in some good attacks but he deserved the win because he was really strong today," said Frattini. "He had another gear and I suffered a lot. I wasn't feeling that good but I did my best."
While Shriver and Frattini each rode solo through to the finish for first and second place, Matter and Wells maintained a heated battle for the final podium spot which was finally decided in the approach to the "wall" 300 metres from the finish.
"Brian [Matter] made a move and I was hoping to bring that back and go for the sprint for third," said Wells. "[Throughout the race] he was swinging wide coming into the transition across the pavement to the "wall". I was coming in tight every time and came in that last lap and just slid out.
"I put a foot down and went to jump back on the bike but both my front and rear tubulars rolled."
Matter suddenly had third place comfortably in hand while Wells had to shoulder his bike and run the final 300 metres. What Wells once thought as a worst-case scenario fourth place finish evaporated at the hands of Livermon and Thompson.
"It's kind of a hard pill to swallow when you're 100 metres away [from finishing] and fourth and fifth go by as I'm running down the pavement," said Wells.
The North Carolina Grand Prix continues on Sunday with another full day of cyclo-cross racing in Hendersonville's Jackson Park.
|1||Matt Shriver (USA) Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory||0:58:03|
|2||Davide Frattini (Ita) Team Fuji||0:00:28|
|3||Brian Matter (USA) Gear Grinder||0:00:35|
|4||Travis Livermon (USA) Champion System/Cannondale||0:00:59|
|5||Eric Thompson (USA) Lees-McRae College||0:01:08|
|6||Jake Wells (USA) Mafia Racing||0:01:13|
|7||Sam Krieg (USA)||0:01:58|
|8||Grant Berry (USA)||0:02:06|
|9||Ryan Knapp (USA)||0:02:16|
|10||Brad Perley (USA)||0:02:22|
|11||Noah Niwinski (USA)||0:02:25|
|12||James Lalonde (USA)||0:02:53|
|13||Jonathan Hamblen (USA)||0:03:11|
|14||Ryan Leach (USA)||0:03:18|
|15||Eric Muehl (USA)||0:03:22|
|16||Andrew Messer (USA)||0:03:47|
|17||Eric Wondergem (USA)||0:03:56|
|18||Lucas Livermon (USA)||0:04:06|
|19||Doug Yeater (USA)||0:04:08|
|20||Alex Ryan (USA)||0:04:39|
|21||Andy Applegate (USA)||0:04:42|
|22||Damian Schmitt (USA)||0:05:00|
|23||Scott Frederick (USA)||0:05:05|
|24||Aaron Oakes (USA)||0:05:23|
|25||Christopher Consorto (USA)||0:05:26|
|26||Andrew Reardon (USA)||0:05:36|
|27||Josh Stevens (USA)||0:06:21|
|32||John Crow (USA)|
|33||Noah Metzler (USA)|
|34||Robert Jameson (USA)|
|35||Andy Baker (USA)|
|37||Aaron Bradford (USA)|
|38||Bryan Schoeffler (USA)|