An ecstatic Tad Elliott (Sho-Air / Specialized) crossed the line as the winner of the Under 23 cross country national championship on Friday afternoon. Elliott finished ahead of Rob Squire (Felt Holowesko Partners) and Russell Finsterwald (Subaru / Trek).
"It was so awesome to win here in Colorado," said Elliott, who lives in Durango, Colorado, and was racing on a new bike he'd gotten just days before. "I won two years ago in the Under 23 race at Mount Snow, but last year, I couldn't defend because I broke my shoulder one week before nationals."
Elliott was one of several strong men who battled right from the gun. Squire and Finsterwald were among those with the fastest starts, and Elliott admitted that he strugged at first.
"Rob and Russell were riding so strong at the start. I was absolutely pinned on their wheels. I was hurting. It was as hard as I could go," said Elliot, who added that his race went according to plan and he felt better as the race went on.
"It was Russell, Tad and I together for the first three laps," said Squire. "Going off the front, we were going well, and I felt good. I was trying to sit in and gauge how everyone is doing. Once we got five guys, we eased up a bit and maybe that was a mistake as it gave some guys time to recover."
With about two laps to go, Finsterwald was dropped by Squire and Elliott. "I went to pass Russell, and he kind of punched it. I think that might have been the popping point for him. He was going well," said Squire.
That left Elliott and Squire to duel, and it wasn't until the final lap that Elliott escaped his companion.
"I took the lead on the backside of that cloverleaf. We went through the feedzone on the descent, and I noticed I had a little bit of a gap. I put my head down and rode as hard as I could," said Elliott, who added that he was impressed by how both Finsterwald and Squire rode. "Those guys are both younger U23s and they are so strong, it'll be exciting to see how they do."
Squire noted that the course made for a tactical race rather than one decided by pure skills or climbing or descending ability. "This course was more tactical than I think a mountain bike race should be. It's because there is a lot of open space and the climbing isn't straight climbing. It's more like traversing." It also left the riders more exposed to the winds. "Pulling into the wind wore me out, but Tad rode a perfect race and was able to pull it off. Kudos to him," said Squire.
Despite coming off the leaders, Finsterwald held on for third place. "My goal going into the day was to win, but coming out with a top three for a first-year Under 23 was respectable. Those guys were riding strong today."
"I wasn't climbing quite as well as them, but I was going downhill well. Eventually they were able to outclimb me," said Finsterwald.
Mitchell Hoke (Tokyo Joes) and Matthew Beaton rounded out the top five.
Skyler Trujillo (Fort Collins) won the junior men's 17-18 race after a battle with Howard Grotts (Durango Devo), who finished second. Tony Smith (Whole Athlete) was third.
Trujillo, who was second last year in the junior 17-18 race, said he felt good from the start. "I felt like I was pushing a nice, easy pace for the first laps, and I kept up with Howard."
The Fort Collins resident was enjoying winning his first national title.
Unfortunately, for Howard, a second lap incident in which he had a run in with an Under 23 racer and crashed, cost him some valuable time.
"I gained at least 20 seconds on him," said Trujillo. "I waited for him and he almost caught me by the top, and then I got to the descent and I was like, 'I'm not waiting for him anymore.'"
Grotts took the crash in stride and recovered well enough to finish in a steady second place. "I got cut off on the second lap, but oh well. The traffic wasn't too bad - really only a problem on the second lap (of three)," said Grotts. "I felt good for the first two laps and just held it for the third one. It was a pretty good race overall."
William Curtis (Whole Athlete) and Christopher Bennett finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Keegan Swenson (Cole Sport) won the junior men's 15-16 three-lap race in 1:20:59. He defeated Noah Talley (Racer's Cycle) and Gino Pastore (Durango Devo).
The 16-year-old Swenson, from Park City, Utah, crossed the line still looking strong as he celebrated his first national title. "My race was awesome," he said smiling.
"I was with a few guys until the road on the first lap, and then I just kind of rode away," he said.
He rode the rest of the race on his own off the front. En route to his win he caught many of the older juniors, but said congestion was not a problem.
"Everyone was really nice about letting me pass by."
Cypress Gorry (Four Unity/Titus) was fourth and Bryan Duke (VOS Racing) was fifth.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tad Elliott (Sho-Air / Specialized)||1:59:04|
|2||Rob Squire (Felt Holowesko Partners)||0:00:42|
|3||Russell Finsterwald (Subaru/Trek)||0:03:39|
|7||Jack Hinkens (Trek Co-op)||0:08:40|
|8||Stephen Ettinger (US National Team)||0:10:05|
|9||John Bennett (Whole Athlete)||0:10:35|
|10||Travis Livermon (Cannondale)||0:10:52|
|11||Bradford Perley (Mafia Racing)||0:11:06|
|13||Eric Emsky (Blue Competition Cycles)||0:12:14|
|14||Joe Schneider (3D Racing)||0:12:43|
|15||Bryan Dillon (Alpine Orthopaedics)||0:13:12|
|17||Gregory Carpenter (3D racing)||0:16:50|
|18||Zachary Keller (Form Cycles)||0:17:30|
|19||Colin Osborn (Honey Stinger/Trek)||0:18:59|
|21||Kerry Werner (Christiana Cycling/Shirk's Racing Presented by Trek Bikes)||0:20:36|
|22||Will Patterson (Whole Athlete)||0:20:55|
|25||Tristan Uhl (Southern Elite)||0:25:15|
|28||Dylan Stucki (Mafia Racing)||0:33:16|
|29||Brae Patten (Tokyo Joes)||0:34:31|
|30||Ben Koenig (RMC / Massden / Light@ Motion)||0:37:27|
|31||Nate Byrom (Northstar / Giant)||0:39:11|
|32||Richard Schoenfelder (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)||0:40:50|
|34||Wesley Lamberson (Cycleyouth U23 Pro Team)||1:00:56|
|DNF||Menso de Jong (Metromint Cycling)|
|DNF||Bryce Gordon (Honey Stinger/Trek)|
|DNF||Andy Hagemann (Mafia Racing)|
|DNF||Alex Ryan (Champion System/ Cannondale)|
|DNF||Thomas Sampson (Cannondale)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Howard Grotts (Durango Devo)||0:01:02|
|3||Tony Smith (Whole Athlete)||0:01:50|
|4||William Curtis (Whole Athlete)||0:03:20|
|6||Nicholas Newcomb (Whole Athlete)||0:04:40|
|7||Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)||0:05:16|
|8||Danny Van Wagoner (KUHL)||0:05:37|
|9||Cody Kaiser (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)||0:07:07|
|10||Gordon Cottle (KUHL)||0:07:31|
|11||Alex Stevenson (Whole Athlete)||0:08:42|
|12||Max Houtzager (Whole Athlete)||0:09:11|
|15||Riley Predum (Whole Athlete)||0:09:48|
|16||Daniel Conley (For Unity/Titus)||0:10:20|
|17||Joseph Moffitt (Mad Dog Cycles Race Team)||0:11:19|
|18||Ryan Standish (Merida Flight Centre)||0:13:32|
|20||Conner Smith (Autoliv Cycling Club)||0:14:14|
|21||Greg Krieger (Team Extreme)||0:14:34|
|24||Colby Pastore (Whole Athlete)||0:15:48|
|25||Kyle Warras (EXPO Racing)||0:15:57|
|26||Chris Johnson (Team Velosport Club/Sho-air/Sonance)||0:17:40|
|27||Jeremiah Dyer (Champion System Cannondale)||0:18:52|
|28||Roman Brockley (Whole Athlete)||0:19:51|
|29||Joseph Yoham (Whole Athlete)||0:20:22|
|31||T. Quade Jander||0:22:13|
|32||Zane Enders (Autoliv Cycling Club)||0:22:25|
|33||Ryan Packard (QuadCycles)||0:22:44|
|34||Travis Glysson (FCA Endurance/Team FCA Endurance)||0:26:24|
|35||Zane Jeffers (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)||0:26:31|
|36||Charles Wild (Mother)||0:37:12|
|37||Michael Dutczak (South Chicago Wheelmen)||0:41:35|
|DNF||Taylor Schmidt (Optimize Endurance Services/Optimize Endurance Services/BikeSource)|
|DNF||Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete)|
|DNF||Drake Uriguen (Livetrainrace.com)|
|DNF||Ben Malmborg (Tokyo Joes)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Keegan Swenson (Cole Sport/cole sport)||1:20:59|
|2||Noah Talley (Racer's Cycle)||0:02:31|
|3||Gino Pastore (Durango DEVO)||0:03:38|
|4||Cypress Gorry (Four Unity/Titus)||0:05:57|
|5||Bryan Duke (VOS Racing)||0:06:57|
|6||Taylor Smith (Whole Athlete)||0:07:08|
|9||Chase Dickens (American Classic/Kenda/Tomac)||0:09:21|
|11||Larsson Johnson (Autoliv Cycling Club)||0:13:56|
|14||Jansen Lindner (Cycle Youth / C-Town)||0:16:05|
|16||Brandon Dillard (Owens Healthcare)||0:18:00|
|17||Tyler Coplea (Oakley/Form Cycles)||0:19:51|
|18||Lucas Newcomb (NorCal High School Mountain Bike League)||0:22:24|
|20||Jack Keane (Above Category Racing)||0:29:55|
|23||Atticus Proctor (Montana Velo)||0:42:05|
|24||Christian Shanley (VMBC)|
|DNF||Skyler Taylor (Above Category Racing)|
|DNF||Ryan Geiger (Schwalbe / Energy by Science)|