Werner wins U23 cross country national title

Newcomb and Blevins earn junior victories

Kerry Werner (BMC Development Team) won the U23 men's cross country national championship at Bear Creek Resort in Macungie, Pennsylvania on Friday after a dramatic final lap. Russell Finsterwald (Trek Factory Racing) finished second while Cameron Dodge rode into third.

The U23 and junior men raced on an extremely hot and humid day - everyone was covered in sweat long before the gun went off and managing fluid intake was a key to success despite the fact that much of the course was shaded in the woods.

Defending U23 champ Finsterwald said to Cyclingnews, "I knew this race was going to be an exciting race, as much as I didn't want it to be. It was painful, but fun."

On the first lap, Finsterwald and Howard Grotts (Specialized) set the pace, with Werner just behind them. On lap 2, Werner bridged up and the trio rode together, several minutes faster than the rest of the field.

"I took a pull through here with one to go because Howard was back after I tacked the downhill," said Werner to Cyclingnews. "Russell stayed on me and Howard came up because he's so strong on the climbs. The last lap was crazy. "

With one lap to go, it looked like any of the three could win. The fireworks started on the fifth and final lap.

Finsterwald said, "It was a dramatic last last lap. From the start, it was a dogfight out there with me, Kerry and Howard. On the last lap, I gave it everything I had into a corner, which wasn't the smartest thing. I wadded it up and slowed Howard up. Kerry was able to capitalize on that and close the gap."

Werner said, "Somehow or another, we switched positions and Howard had it going into the lead. Russell dropped his chain. I stacked it. Then Howard stacked it in the very last rock garden after I had stacked it. It was crazy. Oh my god, it was a battle."

"I was ecstatic once I got up front. All I had to do was coast downhill. I was just being super careful. We had all messed up from the top of the hill onward, so I didn't know what was going to happen."

Each of the top three riders crashed or had a mechanical during the final half-lap and when all the place trading was done, Werner was at the front, with time to celebrate. Finsterwald rolled in for second and an unfortunate Grotts was spotted standing next to the course after crashing, something that gave Dodge the opportunity to overtake him and ride into a bronze medal.

Finsterwald said, "After I crashed it was everything I had just to finish. That was one of the harder races I've done. The heat was getting to me a little bit and when it was bothering me, I wasn't riding 100%. Props to Kerry, who was riding awesome."

Instead of Grotts rolling in for third, Dodge was the next man across the line.

"I never raced nationals before," he said. "I'd done local races my whole life until I raced up at Windham a few weeks ago ,and I was 11th. I did pretty well there and here, I was hoping for a top 10 and I ended up third. I'm pumped. At the top. Luke Keough was attacking me, and I was able to hold on to his wheel. I got in front of him on the last descent. Then, I passed Howard on the side of the trail."

Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) and Richard Cypress Gorry (Whole Athlete/Specialized) rounded out the top five.

Junior men 17-18

Starting in a wave after the U23 men, the junior 17-18 men chased after their elders. Even on the first lap of the four-lap race, eventual winner Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete/Specialized) was steadily working his way forward.

"I got a way better start than I thought I was going to. I was top three going into the singletrack over there," said Newcomb to Cyclingnews. "Some of those guys with big engines took off a bit. I kept my tempo and tried to keep it smooth over the rocks. I was eventually able to pass both of them before any of the singletrack opened up."

"I thought I had an ok gap, but people kept giving me time splits of '30 seconds back' so I was like 'oh man, I gotta keep going.'."

Newcomb was recovering from the stomach flu he had two weeks ago, but a good recovery helped him take advantage of the all the training he'd done before he got the flu.

"I was able to do well in Wisconsin and tried to come here and lock it up. It was really, really hot, but I just kept drinking. It turned out well for me."

Luke Vrouwenvelder (Cycle Youth) often had Newcomb in his sights, but he could not catch him. Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete/Specialized) rolled in for third.

"I took the hole shot and I was going all right up there," said Vrouwenvelder. "The heat got to me a bit - I was naseaus. Lucas passed me and we played cat and mouse the rest of the way. I could see him at times, but it was a little frustrating that I could catch him. I never saw third."

Neilson Powless (Folsom Bike/Vw/Raley's/Folsom Bike/Giant) finished fourth ahead of Skyler Taylor (Bear Development Team) in fifth.

Junior men 15-16

Christopher Blevins (Durango Devo) blazed to victory during three laps among the 15-16 juniors. He was hotly pursued by Jorge Munoz (MC Supercenter), who rode a consistent three-lap race in the blazing heat. Jackob Sacket (Tri City Bicycles) was third.

"I started hard up the prologue and the climb. I never looked back from there," said Blevins, who has previous won BMX and mountain bike national titles and who also races on the road. "I was on a hardtail, and I used it as an advantage on the climbs, but then tried to stay smooth on the downhill. I was trying not to flat or go over the bars."

Munoz told Cyclingnews, "The pace started fast, and I was about fourth in the singletrack. Christopher Blevins was pulling away, and I got around Jacob and another guy and I just kept going. I didn't slow down at all - I went smoothly on the descents and went hard on the hills. I could see Christopher and tried my best to catch him, but he was way too strong today."

Daniel Johnson and Brannan Fix were fourth and fifth respectively.

Full Results

U23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Kerry Werner (BMC U23 Development MTB Team)1:23:18 
2Russell Finsterwald (Trek Factory Racing)0:00:56 
3Cameron Dodge0:02:16 
4Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing)0:03:38 
5Richard Cypress Gorry (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:07:46 
6Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:08:23 
7Casey Williams (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:11:23 
8Lewis Gaffney (Team F)0:12:25 
9Ryan Geiger (Team Winded)0:13:24 
10Ryan Standish (Fort Lewis College)0:13:57 
11Chase Dickens (American Classic)0:14:16 
12Trevor Deruise (Blu World Inspired/Getreal Nutrition)0:14:58 
13Davis Bentley0:18:33 
14William Curtis (Whole Athlete)0:20:06 
15Alex Schultz (MPI- Main Street Racing Team)0:20:07 
16Forrest Conrad (Toasted Head Racing)0:20:08 
17Michael Sampson (Pemi-Baker Cycling Club/Team Alpine Clinic Rcn)0:20:09 
18Kenneth Hall (Lindsey Wilson College)0:20:10 
19Tanner Hurst (Nashvillecyclist)0:20:11 
20Taylor Smith (Sho-Air/Cannondale)  
21Brendan Mccormack (Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team Inc)  
22Tyler Fox  
23Brae Patten (Tokyo Joes)  
24Gunnar Bergey (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)  
25Taylor Schmidt  
26Connor Bell (Rocktown Racing)  
27Joshua Murdock (Peak Cycles-Bikeparts)  
28Gerald Drummond (Fayetteville Wheelmen)  
29Casey Hildebrandt (Twin Six)  
Junior men 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:54:01 
2Luke Vrouwenvelder (Cycle Youth)0:00:45 
3Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:02:18 
4Neilson Powless (Folsom Bike/Vw/Raley's/Folsom Bike/Giant)0:02:19 
5Skyler Taylor (Bear Development Team)0:02:53 
6Stephan Davoust (Durango Devo)0:03:10 
7Peter Karinen0:03:13 
8Kyle Bloesser0:04:47 
9Byron Rice (Clemmons Bicycle Racing)0:05:00 
10Landen Beckner0:05:10 
11Cooper Drummond0:05:25 
12W Grant Ellwood (Boulder Junior Cycling/Tokyo Joe's Jr)0:05:43 
13Nolan Brady (Rad Racing Nw)0:05:50 
14Marcus Segedin (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:06:11 
15Garrett Gerchar (Boulder Junior Cycling/Tokyo Joe's Jr)0:06:16 
16Mason Shea0:06:22 
17Dylan Johnson0:07:12 
18Cal Skilsky (Oro Valley Bicycle)0:08:01 
19Jonathan Anderson (Essex County Velo)0:08:10 
20Zachary Carlson (Matrix Cycling Club/Matrix/Rbm)0:08:24 
21Justin Noel0:08:35 
22Liam Earl (Byrds (Boise Young Rider Dev Squad))0:08:47 
23Javier Colton (Bend Endurance Academy)  
24Keegan Swirbul0:09:00 
25Levi Kurlander (Durango Devo)0:09:08 
26Matthew Erbentraut0:10:59 
27Joe Lautzenheiser (Lake Effect Cycling Team/Team Lake Effect)0:11:07 
28Joe Christiansen0:11:16 
29Dillon Van Wart (Team Town Cycle)0:11:47 
30Matthew Owens (Green Mountain Bicycle Club)0:11:49 
31Ian Stowe (Bear Development Team)0:12:25 
32Elliott Baring (Cycle Youth)0:13:21 
33Cameron Ritcher (Rocktown Racing)0:13:58 
34Brent Burcham0:14:36 
35Ben Spurr (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:15:20 
36Andrew Bailey (Piney Flats Bicycles And Fitness/Piney Flats Bicycles/Dean Endurance Mtb)0:15:24 
37Case Butler0:15:59 
38Trever Kingsbury0:17:40 
39Vijay Raju0:18:16 
40Anders Nystrom (Byrds (Boise Young Rider Dev Squad))0:21:04 
41Kurt Vogt (Rbs Cycling/Rbs Cycling Team)0:21:41 
42Adam Oliver  
Junior men 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Christopher Blevins (Durango Devo)0:56:58 
2Jorge Munoz Jr (Mc Supercenter)0:02:41 
3Jacob Sacket (Tri-City Bicycles)0:03:24 
4Daniel Johnson0:04:16 
5Brannan Fix0:05:16 
6Jerry Dufour (Team Momentum)0:05:40 
7Steffen Andersen (Whole Athlete / Specialized)0:06:09 
8Jared Karinen0:06:40 
9Clayton Puckett (Bear Development Team)0:06:56 
10Nathan Barnett0:07:11 
11Josue Perez (Sun Cycling Team/Sun Cycling Team)0:07:19 
12Michael Owens (Green Mountain Bicycle Club/Dealer)0:09:18 
13Soren Andersen (Santa Cruz County Cycling Club)0:10:04 
14Trevor Von Boeck (Front Rangers Junior Cycling)0:10:15 
15Rob Sandusky (Matrix Cycling Club/Matrix/Rbm)0:11:27 
16Sean Bell0:11:38 
17Jack Tanner (Boulder Junior Cycling/Tokyo Joe's Jr)0:11:43 
18Taylor Clarke (Team Carytown Bicycle Company/Cannondale - ChaMPIon System - Carytown)0:11:44 
19Andrew Bobb0:11:45 
20Ryan Berliner0:12:09 
21Cole Paton0:12:33 
22Carson Benjamin (Bear Development Team)0:15:01 
23Evan Williams0:15:11 
24Jonathan Dietz (Bike Line)0:16:17 
25Gabriel Castano (T Town Express)  
26Joshua Anderson (Essex County Velo)  

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