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