Competing in a full European schedule means that Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) thrives on the few chances he has at winning a 'cross race on American soil and winning is exactly what he did at the Rad Racing Gran Prix held in Seattle, Washington. He played his cards perfectly in the finale - a well-timed sprint saw him outpace break companion Christian Heule (Rendementhypo Cycling Team) for the victory.
Jamey Driscoll (Cyclocrossworld.com-Cannondale) took a well-earned third place after a lengthy chase to catch the two leaders.
"It's fun to win a bike race," said Page. "He [Heule] led most of the final section of the last lap and then I just accelerated. We came off the grass side by side and I pulled away from him. I patiently played my card. It was a tough, tough race and good one."
Page is off to a good start after a turbulent end to his season last year that began after accidentally missing a post-race anti-doping control on November 29th following the Koksijde World Cup in Belgium. He was up against a possible two-year suspension that was cleared by the World Anti Doping Association (WADA).
"I'd like to dedicate this race to the three lawyers who helped me out last winter and to Bob Downs, the owner of Planet Bike my title sponsor," Page said following his victory. "They saved my butt and without them I wouldn't have the chance to win a bike race. I'm hoping that there will be more chances to win in my career."
Heule's win in Star Crossed, the previous night, coupled with his second place performance in Rad Racing Gran Prix moved him into the early lead of the North American Trophy Points Series ahead of Page in second place and Andy Jacques-Maynes, who sits in third.
The NACT turns up the heat
The star-studded call ups in the men's pro-elite category fell short one important rider - defending champion Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld.com). Johnson pulled out of the previous day's Star Crossed after he crashed and separated his shoulder on the first lap.
The racing got underway with a highly contested field and a crowd hungry to see action similar to that of the night before. There was no mud nor rain, only the dry heat of typical of late September, but that didn't help the riders stay upright on their machines.
"I didn't think too much of the course at first as it was bone dry," said Page. "After I knew it was going to be hard because of the elevation changes, the long run ups and after you descend them you had to go up another one. It made for a good strong-man type of race."
Jesse Anthony (Jamis) was the first to hit the barriers in a tumble and lost time and places as the leaders continued on in their aggressive bid for victory without him. Other riders noticeably missing from the front included Ryan Trebon (KONA) and Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com).
It wasn't long before two men - Heule and Page - emerged from the dust together and no other riders in reach. It was a battle of the Europeans. Heule, a four-time Swiss national champion and Page, a former US national champion who now calls Belgium home in order to fulfill his cyclo-cross commitments. He went on to become the first American to take a silver medal in the 2007 UCI World Cyclo-Cross Championships.
"Heule and I put the hammer down and rode away from the guys for most of the race," Page continued. "He had a couple moments of weakness and Driscoll came close to us. But, I went hard when he got close for one whole lap on the front and I hit it one more time up the hill and he was gone again. I wanted to keep it just the two of us."
Driscoll and Jacques-Maynes worked together to try and close in on the two leaders. However, Driscoll jumped ahead of Jacques-Maynes to try and bridge the gap. He almost made if it weren't for Page who turned it up a notch just as he was about the make contact.
Jacques-Maynes continued riding in fourth place well ahead of a chase group containing Danish National Champion Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles), Chris Jones (Champion System) and Russell Stevenson (Benaroya Research Institute). Just behind, Barry Wicks (KONA) and Chris Sheppard (Santa Cruz/Shimano) worked together to stay with in reach of the top ten places.
Page used his strength to carry himself over the famed 80m run up ahead of Heule on the eighth and last time up; a deal breaker that indicated it was time to start thinking about the win. The Swiss talent negotiated the final corners ahead of Page but when the pair hit the tarmac it was Page who blasted past him to take the win.
|1||Jonathan Page (USA) Planet Bike||0:55:08|
|2||Christian Heule (Swi) Rendementhypo Cycling Team|
|3||James Driscoll (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com||0:00:30|
|4||Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling||0:00:57|
|5||Christopher Jones (USA Champion System||0:01:11|
|6||Joachim Parbo (Den) Ccv Leopard Cycles||0:01:24|
|7||Russell Stevenson (USA) Benaroya Research Institute Cycling Team||0:01:29|
|8||Chris Sheppard (Can) Santa Cruz/Shimano/Wtb/Giro||0:01:58|
|9||Barry Wicks (USA) Kona||0:02:30|
|10||Ryan Iddings (USA) Lapierre Usa||0:02:56|
|11||Tyler Trace (Can) Trek Red Truck|
|12||Craig Richey (Can) Blue Competition Cycles P/B Neverblue||0:03:03|
|13||Sean Babcock (USA) Team S&M||0:03:04|
|14||Jake Wells (USA) Mafiaracing.Com||0:03:05|
|15||Morgan Schmitt (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling||0:03:18|
|16||Aaron Schooler (Can) Team H&R Block-Kona|
|17||Aaron Bradford (USA)||0:03:33|
|18||Cody Peterson (USA) Hutchs Bicycles||0:03:42|
|19||Kevin Bradford-Parish (USA) Emdesports.Com||0:03:51|
|20||Steve Fisher (USA) Rad Racing/Hagens Berman|
|21||Kevin Noiles (Can) La Bicicletta Pro Shop||0:03:54|
|22||Davy Yeater (USA) River City Bicycles||0:04:19|
|23||Jeremy Ferguson (USA)||0:04:25|
|24||Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com||0:04:31|
|25||Josh Berry (USA)||0:04:51|
|26||John Curry (USA) G.A.S./Intrinsik||0:05:15|
|27||Logan Wetzel (USA)|
|28||Spencer Paxson (USA) Team S&M Young Guns||0:05:30|
|29||Nicholas Weighall (USA) California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized||0:05:37|
|30||Nathan Bannerman (USA) Rad Racing/ Hagens Berman||0:05:42|
|31||Ian Terry (USA) Rad Racing Nw/Hagens Berman||0:06:00|
|32||Kristopher Holden (USA) Vertical Earth|
|33||Mark Blackwelder (USA)||0:06:24|
|34||Scotty Carlile (USA) Tai Cycling/Genr8||0:06:30|
|35||Shaun Adamson (Can) Juventus|
|36||Brett Luelling (USA) Capitol Subaru Cycling||0:07:14|
|37||Jesse Anthony (USA) Jamis||0:07:42|
|38||Kevin Hulick (USA) Vanilla Workshop||0:07:48|
|39||Ryan Weaver (USA)||0:08:23|
|-1 lap||Kyle Mcgilvray (USA) Old Town Bicycle|
|-1 lap||Matthew Davis (USA) Mad Duck/Momenta Training|
|-1 lap||Chris Hill (USA) Cucina Fresca|
|-1 lap||Nick Berry (Can) Mighty Cycling|
|-3 laps||Matthew Fox (USA) Sunnyside Sports|
|-3 laps||Ben Dodge (USA) Sugar Crm|
|-3 laps||Matt Wittler (USA) Lost Coast Brewery/Marin Bikes|
|-4 laps||Christopher Ragusa (USA) Ccb Volkswagen|
|-4 laps||Tim Woods (USA)|
|-4 laps||Joe Wessel (Can) Kelowna Cycle United|
|DNF||Ryan Trebon (USA) Kona|
|DNF||Molly Cameron (USA) Portland Bicycle Studio|
|DNF||Drew Mackenzie (Can) Island Racing Club|
|DNF||Brandon Mart (USA) Team Kinetic Cycles|
|DNF||Thomas 'The Tank' Skinner (Can) Oak Bay Bikes|
|DNF||Troy Wells (USA) Clif Bar|
|DNF||Shannon Skerritt (USA) The Vanilla Workshop-Speedvagen Racing|
|DNF||Toby Swanson (USA) Benaroya Research Institute Cycling Team|
|DNF||Brett Nichols (USA) Bode|
|DNS||Timothy Johnson (USA) Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.Com|
|DNS||Jonathan Baker (USA) Hudz-Subaru Cyclocross Team|
|DNS||Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona|
|DNS||Erik Tonkin (USA) Kona|
|DNS||Sean Worsech (USA) Rad Racing Nw/Hagens Berman|