Cares and Finsterwald triumph in Under 23 and Junior races

Heat and climbing take a toll in mid-day race

Colin Cares (Kenda / Tomac / Hayes) and Russell Finsterwald (ProCycling / SRM) won their respective under 23 and junior men's races in the middle of a hot and sunny day on Friday afternoon. The Under 23 men started their four laps at high noon, and the junior men went off a mere 10 minutes later.

Under 23 men

Colin Cares was all smiles after winning the Under 23 National Cross Country Championships. "I'm psyched," he said with a big grin. "This is my first 'real' national championship - one that's not for collegiate or cyclo-cross racing."

The Under 23 men took off, flying en masse up the super steep part of the climb that kicked off each lap. Soon after the start, Cares and Rob Squire (US National Development Team) established themselves as the strong men of the race, initially as part of a group of about five and then on their own.

"I like altitude, so my strategy was to ride my own pace and never push too hard and pop. I wanted to keep the pressure on," said winner Cares.

While Cares led much of the race, Squires was never far behind and nearly always kept the leader in sight.

"Robbie was right there the whole race. It was stressful," said Cares. "I held my gap overall for much of the race, but I think Robbie was riding his dually a little faster on the descents, and I was maybe a little faster on the climbs."

Squire said he thought he'd lost Cares for good as he climbed on the final lap and no longer saw his carrot, but he did see him again on the final descent.

Cares felt the pressure. "I was trying to stay confident and optimistic. I looked around on one of the last switchbacks and saw he was right there," said Cares. "I crashed on the last lap downhill, which is not what you're supposed to do, but it was all right. I got a little too excited in the loose stuff and took a tumble." The winner stood with a rock, from that crash, stuck in his helmet vent as he spoke.

In fact, Squire nearly closed the gap and rolled across the finish line at the end of the downhill just behind Cares.

"I didn't want to push too hard and blow up trying to catch up to him, so I just decided to sit there and hope to reel him in a little bit," said Squire. "I managed to start to reel him, but I missed a pedal and made other little mistakes. It's a little disappointing, but I'm still happy with second." Squire, from Salt Lake City, Utah, is a first-year under 23, and the 19-year-old knows he will have other chances in the future to take the Under 23 championship, especially once some of the experience he gained racing in Europe this spring kicks in.

Steve Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports) rode a solid race, despite the intense, high-altitude sun, to earn third. "There were so many fast guys on the starting line, it was intimidating, but everything came together and my legs fired well. I was able to ride my own race."

Ettinger rode within a few seconds of Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing), then in third, and Nicholas Weighall (Rad Racing NW) in fifth for awhile, but Ettinger eventually passed Franklin for the bronze medal.

Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing) and Peter Stetina (Tokyo Joe's) rounded out the top five. Stetina, best know for his success on the road, worked his way up to fifth after double flatting.

Junior men

In his final year as a junior, Russell Finsterwald rode to a national championship cross country win ahead of a talented field that included second place finisher Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes) and third placed Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW).

"This is my first national title," said a happy Finsterwald. "It's been a tough season. I went over to Europe and raced for a month and then just came back over here and am getting back used to racing here again."

Hailing from Colorado Springs, Finsterwald came up to Granby a few weekends earlier to check out the course. "I got it down well before the race," said Finsterwald.

Finsterwald and Trujillo spent the first lap of their race together. Finsterwald's strategy was to ride conservatively at the front. Then on the second lap, Finsterwald pulled away, but the race wasn't over.

"He caught me back about halfway up the climb, and I let him sit on a little while," said Finsterwald. "Then I attacked him toward the top and rode downhill in a very risky way. I almost crashed twice. I saw him close in a few times, and I just dug myself in deeper than I ever have. I was cramping, too."

Finsterwald was clearly motivated. "I needed to win this to be able to save up the money for worlds." He will head next to the Canadian World Cups starting next weekend.

Behind the two leaders, Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW) rode to third. "I surprised myself. I'm from sea level and this is my fourth race of the season. It was rough out there, and there was a lot of climbing. I'm beat, but it was a good race."

Emsky was in just his fourth race of the season after rehabbing an IT band injury that had been causing his knee to track improperly.

Jack Hinkens (Penn Cycle) and last year's junior national champion Seth Kemp (GT / Kenda) completed the podium.

Results
Under 23 men
1Colin Cares (Kenda / Tomac / Hayes)1:43:39 
2Rob Squire (USA National Team)0:00:51 
3Stephen Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports Therapy)0:05:09 
4Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing)0:06:52 
5Peter Stetina (Tokyo Joe's)0:08:01 
6Nicholas Weighall (Rad Racing NW)0:08:19 
7Aaron Snyder (SCOTT USA)0:08:41 
8Travis Livermon (Champion System / Cannondale)0:09:57 
9Kevin Kane (Cannondale Factory Racing)0:10:45 
10Matthew Beaton (Tokyo Joes)0:12:47 
11Ethan Gilmour (USA National Team)0:13:11 
12Trevor Downing (Mafia Racing)0:13:28 
13Joe Schneider (3D Racing)0:13:36 
14Dylan Stucki (Mafia Racing)0:14:26 
15Gregory Carpenter0:14:54 
16Art Nelsen (Tokyo Joes / Vandessal)0:15:20 
17Braden Kappius (Clif Bar)0:15:41 
18Nate Byrom (Northstar / WTB)0:15:58 
19Dallas Fowler (Titetown Flyers)0:19:21 
20Michael Hosey (Soulcraft)0:19:46 
21Amar Mannina (Rocky Mounts / Izze)0:19:54 
22John Bennett (Whole Athlete)0:20:00 
23Lars Ellefson (Maplelag / Giant)0:21:57 
24Christopher Suter (Adrenaline / Titus)0:22:09 
25Noah Tautfest0:22:58 
26Seamus Powell (Windham Mtn Outfitters)0:25:08 
27Zachary Keller (Titus)0:26:16 
28Matt Wiebe (Team Colorado Singletrack)  
29Matthew Connors (Fisher 29er Crew)0:28:20 
30Peter O'Donnell (Flanders / MBRC)0:30:34 
31Adam Parke (Orange Peel)0:31:21 
32Joshua Berry0:34:04 
33Alex Ryan (Champion System / Cannondale)0:36:27 
34Tim Curry (CB Builders / Brick Oven)0:43:01 
35Chase Orrick (Durango Devo/Tomac Bikes)0:47:22 
DNSColin Osborn (Team Bikeparts.com)  
DNFGraham Aldredge (GP VeloTek)  
DNFMitchell Peterson (MonaVie-Cannondale.com)  
DNFJeremiah Gantzer  
Cat. 1 Junior men 17-18
1Russell Finsterwald (ProCycling / SRM)1:52:03 
2Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes)0:02:12 
3Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW / Hagens Berman LLC)0:03:25 
4Jack Hinkens (Penn Cycle)0:04:36 
5Seth Kemp (GT / Kenda Cycleyouth)0:07:56 
6alex schoenfelder (Gas / Intrisic)0:10:17 
7Wesley Lamberson0:11:08 
8William Curtis (Whole Athlete)0:11:48 
9Joseph Dombrowski (Haymarket Bicycles p/b Function Drinks)0:13:40 
10Kerry Werner (Shirks Presented By Trek)0:14:53 
11Gordon Cottle (Porcupine / Specialized Racin)0:15:22 
12Bryce Gordon (Honey Stinger / Trek)0:15:57 
13Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)0:16:33 
14David Block (Gear West Bike Shop)0:17:39 
15Ben Sukys0:18:20 
16Nick Newcomb (Whole Athlete)0:20:15 
17Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles)0:20:32 
18Riley Predum (Whole Athlete)0:20:33 
19Zachary Valdez0:21:30 
20Kevin Fish (Austin Flyers)0:22:05 
21Brae Patten (Tokyo Joes Junior)0:23:19 
22Alex Stevenson0:23:23 
23Will Patterson0:24:38 
24Aristotle Peters (EXPO Racing / GF29)0:26:18 
25zane enders (Autoliv)0:28:35 
26Matthew Stottlemyre0:28:36 
27Ben Malmborg (Tokyo Joes Junior)0:29:11 
28Davis Bentley (Whole Athlete)0:29:20 
29Brian Jorgensen0:30:13 
30Andrew Taylor0:31:26 
31Joshua Elston (Autoliv Cycling Club)0:35:21 
32Taylor Schmidt (Optimize Endurance Services / BikeSource)0:36:05 
33Kody Adams (Cannondale)0:36:06 
DNSCody Cox (Pro Cycling)  
DNSSam Gross  
DNSAndrew Dunlap  
DNSKallan Creager (Pivot Cycles)  
DNSKyle Kraakevik (Fetish Cycles)  
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