Stephen Ettinger (BMC MTB Development Team) raced to his first-ever Under 23 cross country national championship victory on Friday afternoon in Sun Valley, Idaho. Ettinger was clearly the strongest rider of the day as he pedalled away from runner-up Jack Hinkens (BMC) and Rob Squire (Chipotle Development Team).
After winning, Ettinger was at first speechless. "That was unreal. I don't even know what to say," he told Cyclingnews as he was congratulated by many supporters and struggling to gather his thoughts.
The stacked field included favorites Ettinger, Hinkens, Squire, Kerry Warner (BMC), Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek), Menso de Jong (Wonderful Pistachios Cycling), Eric Emsky (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW) and Skyler Trujillo (Niner/Stans/Ergon) to name a few.
From the gun, racers tackled a long and super steep fireroad climb up which Ettinger, Squire and Hinkens were the quickest. It was on this first climb of the first lap of the five-lap race that a key gap was established.
"I knew Rob was going to be fast today. He's a total wild card. He hasn't been racing on his mountain bike this year," said Ettinger. "I didn't know what he'd be able to do." The 21-year-old Squire has been busy competing on the road this season with the Chipotle Development team in the US and in Europe.
"I stuck with him until the top of the climb on the first lap. On the descent, I had it and he didn't, so I opened it up a little bit and it allowed me to ride my own race on the climb," said Ettinger. "That made the difference for sure."
"From then on, I was able to pace myself. I just wanted to stay smooth." It was a long time for Ettinger to be on his own at the front, but he looked strong and motivated throughout. Nonetheless, he wasn't taking anything for granted. "I didn't start thinking about the win until coming into the finish area here."
"I have the utmost respect for Rob, my teammates Jack and Kerry, and Russell. Any of those guys could have won," said the always humble Ettinger, who has had a remarkable season so far, including mixing it up with the pros in his final year as a U23 rider. He had bad luck in 2010 at nationals, and his previous best finish was third behind Colin Cares and Rob Squire.
Behind Ettinger, the real battle was for second. Squire and Hinkens duelled each other until the latter got the advantage in the long, flat man-made rock garden at the beginning of lap three of five total.
"I did well in the man-made rock section, and I think Rob used more energy there," said the 19-year-old Hinkens, who is a second-year U23 racer. "I just did what I could and some days are good. Today was good."
The rider from Minnesota finished second, 3:25 behind Ettinger, which gave BMC a one-two result.
Squire held on for a solid third place at 5:03. "I've had better days. I just came off a break after road nationals. Being second two years in a row, I figured I had to come up here and at least show up. A third place, I'm happy with it. With my focus on the road, I'm happy to be here on the podium at mountain bike nationals."
Squire said the day's race was his second of the year and only his fifth time on a mountain bike this season. "I was slow on the descents, but oh well, it was fun!".
Another road racer Menso De Jong (Wonderful Pistachios) finished fourth at 5:31 while BMC put yet another rider on the podium with Kerry Warner (BMC) in fifth at 6:10.
Junior 17-18 men
One week after he won the junior men's World Cup at Windham, New York, Howard Grotts (Durango Devo) topped the podium in the 17-18 men's national championship race. His winning time for four laps was 1:12:02 and he came in ahead of Keegan Swenson (Whole Athlete / Specialized) in second at 20 seconds and Cypress Gorry (AZ Devo) in third at 4:40.
It was Grotts first 17-18 cross country national title. Previously he'd won as a 15-16 racer, and last year, in his first year as a 17-18, he took home the short track national title.
Grotts and Swenson marked each other from the start.
"I wanted to hang with Keegan," said Grotts. On the second lap, I got a little gap and you just have to go as hard as you can after you get that gap."
His strategry worked as he worked his way up through the under 23 men's field that had started in front of him. He found himself racing among the top 10 of the older category, despite the staggered start.
"It would have been nice to have an open course, but the U23 riders also help motivate you," said Grotts, who complimented his 17-year-old opponent Swenson for his race.
"I went out on the first lap and then Howard caught me on the second lap up the climb," said Swenson. "He was riding strong and just pulled away and I couldn't quite get back on his wheel."
For the duration of the race, Swenson, who hails from Park City, Utah, could see Grotts in front of him on the climb every lap, but just couldn't catch him.
Gorry was pleased with his bronze medal ride. "The race was pretty tough. The climb just got harder every lap, but I felt pretty good today." The first-year 17-18 racer was fourth in last year's 15-16 cross country race.
Max Houtzager (Whole Athlete / Specialized) was fourth in 5:28 and Casey Williams was fifth at 6:01.
Junior 15-16 men
Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete / Specialized) of Nicasio, California, won the junior men's 15-16 category in a time of 1:19:11. Keegan Swirbul was second at 0:43 and Stephan Davoust (Durango Devo) was third in 1:59.
"It was hard," said Newcomb after winning. "The climb was hard. I was with Keegan the whole time, and then about halfway up the climb, I attacked and kept the pace up and dropped him."
"I tried to hold him off the rest of the way, and I ended up doing it," said Newcomb. "It was the perfect race. I had no mechanicals and it was my best nationals by far."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Stephen Ettinger (BMC MTB Development Team USA)||1:29:16|
|2||Jack Hinkens (BMC MTB Development Team USA)||0:03:25|
|3||Rob Squire (Chipotle Development Team)||0:05:03|
|4||Menso de Jong (Wonderful Pistachios Cycling)||0:05:31|
|5||Kerry Werner (BMC MTB Development Team USA)||0:06:10|
|6||Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek)||0:07:41|
|7||Skyler Trujillo (Niner/Stans/Ergon)||0:07:43|
|9||Eric Emsky (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW)||0:08:54|
|10||William Curtis (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:09:38|
|12||Colton Andersen (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Devo Sweet Elite)||0:10:37|
|13||Bradford Perley (Champion System / Canondale)||0:10:52|
|15||Peter Ostroski (Wild Things/Rocky Mountain)||0:11:28|
|16||Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)||0:11:44|
|18||Graham Aldredge (Mesa Cycles Shop and Racing Team)||0:14:09|
|19||Noah Tautfest (Bicycle Express/ Kona)||0:16:14|
|20||Cole Oberman (Guys Racing Club)||0:16:42|
|21||Riley Predum (Whole Athlete - Specialized)||0:17:34|
|22||Gregory Carpenter (3D racing)||0:18:51|
|23||Cody Kaiser (California Giant Strawberries/Specialize)||0:19:21|
|24||Robbie Jones (Fort Lewis College)||0:19:51|
|25||Travis Glysson (AZ Devo)||0:20:27|
|26||Patrick Charlton (Central Oregon Community College)||0:20:32|
|27||Brian Jorgensen (Central Oregon Community College)||0:23:17|
|29||Nate Byrom (Nevada Union High School Mt Bike Team)||0:27:27|
|-1lap||Nitish Nag (NRL Racing Development Team)|
|-1lap||Richard Schoenfelder (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)|
|-1lap||Daniel Gerow (Wolverine Sports Club)|
|-1lap||Peter O'Donnell (GT Bicycles)|
|-1lap||Will Patterson (Whole Athlete)|
|DNS||Adam Looney (University of Wyoming)|
|DSQ||Joshua Berry (Realcyclist.com)|
|DNF||Taylor Schmidt (Optimize Endurance Services)|
|DNF||Kevin Kane (Rocky Mountain Factory Team)|
|DNF||Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Howard Grotts (Durango Devo)||1:12:02|
|2||Keegan Swenson (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:00:20|
|3||Richard Cypress Gorry (AZ Devo)||0:04:40|
|4||Max Houtzager (Whole Athlete Specialized)||0:05:28|
|6||Taylor Smith (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:06:21|
|7||Sepp Kuss (Durango Devo)||0:07:48|
|8||Payson McElveen (USA Junior)||0:08:00|
|10||Bryan Duke (VOS Racing)||0:10:08|
|12||Ryan Geiger (AZ Devo)||0:10:33|
|15||Gino Pastore (Durango Devo)||0:12:56|
|17||Mason Bond (Nevada Union High School Mt Bike Team/Nevada Union Mt Bike Team)||0:13:07|
|18||Bobby Zidek (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:13:19|
|19||Anthony Smith (Whole Athlete - Specialized)||0:13:33|
|20||Ryan Standish (United States of America)||0:13:37|
|22||Eliel Anttila (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:14:19|
|23||Adam OCamb (NorCal High School Mountain Bike League)||0:15:08|
|24||Tanner Hurst (Team Bikers Choice)||0:15:33|
|25||Collin Francom (Durango Devo)||0:15:41|
|26||Brandon Dillard (Owens Healthcare)||0:16:35|
|31||Larsson Johnson (Ogden Cycling Education Foundation/Autoliv Cycling Club)||0:19:53|
|34||Conner Smith (Ogden Cycling Education Foundation)||0:20:59|
|36||Ryan O'Connell (EXPO Racing)||0:22:08|
|38||Myles Beach (Adventure 212)||0:24:35|
|39||Keelan Christensen (Methow Valley Cycling)||0:25:20|
|40||Kyle Miller (Team CF)||0:25:32|
|42||Michael Dutczak (South Chicago Wheelmen)||0:31:20|
|-1lap||Mitchell Bogardus (EXPO Racing)|
|DNF||Tyler Coplea (AZ Devo)|
|DNF||Kyle Willett (AZ Devo)|
|DNF||Cody Cupp (Methow Valley Cycling)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||1:19:11|
|3||Stephan Davoust (Durango Devo)||0:01:59|
|4||Zachary Carlson (Matrix Cycling Club/Matrix/RBM)||0:05:26|
|5||Levi Kurlander (Durango Devo)|
|6||Spence Peterson (Above Category Racing)||0:06:18|
|13||landen beckner (Montana Velo)||0:09:33|
|14||Jarred Jordan (Cycles Veloce/Team Simple Green/Bike Religion)||0:10:32|
|15||Nolan Brady (Old Town Bicycle (OTB)/Old Town Bicycle Race Team (OTB))||0:11:02|
|16||Jonathan Kaufman (Whole Athlete/Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:11:10|
|17||Shane Skelton (Montrose Cycling Club/Montrose Bike Shop- CW Builders)||0:12:00|
|20||Jack Keane (Above Category Racing)||0:13:58|
|23||Brett Poulton (EXPO Racing)||0:21:21|
|26||David OBrien (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW)||0:26:25|
|27||Zachary Edwards (White Mountain Road Club/Landis/Trek)||0:28:32|
|-2laps||Tanner Patnode (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW)|
|DNS||Byron Rice (Inland/Back to Dirt/Inland Construction)|
|DNS||Noah Talley (Revolution Cafe Rio)|
|DNS||Skyler Taylor (Above Category Racing)|
|DNF||Haakon Sigurslid (Durango Devo)|