Denzel Stephenson (Boulder Junior Cycling) overcame a mid-race mechanical to take the victory Sunday at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships Junior race, suffering a broken crank on the third lap but eventually making his way past Lane Maher (Hands On Cycling) for the win. Stephenson's Boulder Junior teammate, Ross Ellwood, was third.
Runner-up in 2016, Stephenson took the hole shot on the snow-covered course in Hartford, Connecticut.
"I didn't want to be behind anyone, especially at the start, because of the conditions. I just wanted to ride my own race and not look back," Stephenson said.
He began soloing away in the second lap with Maher trying to keep the gap manageable, before a seat problem and then a broken crank in the third lap suddenly put Stephenson's title bid in doubt. Maher closed the distance and took the lead as Stephenson swapped bikes, but he was unable to hold on in the front, hit by a mechanical of his own.
"I had to run from the top of the Bonk Breaker Hill," Stephenson told Cyclingnews. "I was able to coast down the hill, but then I had to run to the second pit. That cost me a lot of time.
"I was pretty bummed at first," Stephenson said. "I was like, 'Oh, there goes the race,' because I was leading. But I just pitted back onto my other bike and rode my best from there. And then Lane ended up having a mistake too, so it came back together."
By the fourth lap, Stephenson was back in control, and he maintained his advantage all the way to the finish. He crossed the line 20 seconds ahead of Maher, with Ellwood besting Caleb Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) in a tight battle for third.
Despite the mechanicals, Stephenson pointed to the difficult, iced-over course and the frigid conditions – morning temperatures hovered under 20 degrees fahrenheit – as contributing factors to his success.
"I like technical stuff," Stephenson said. "Today was pretty technical. In Colorado it gets like this a lot, so I've had some experience racing in snow and ice like this. I think it worked to my advantage today."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Denzel Stephenson (Boulder Junior Cycling)||0:39:45|
|2||Lane Maher (Hands On Cycling)||0:00:20|
|3||Ross Ellwood (Boulder Junior Cycling)||0:01:02|
|4||Caleb Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective)||0:01:04|
|5||Calder Wood (Rad Racing NW)||0:01:28|
|6||Sam Noel (Cannondale Cyclocrossworld)||0:01:42|
|7||Scott Funston (Rad Racing NW)||0:01:49|
|8||Gregory Gunsalus (AP Junior Development)||0:02:00|
|9||Drew Sotebeer (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Vista Subaru)||0:02:06|
|10||Henry Jones (Bend Endurance Academy)||0:02:21|
|11||Camden Brooks (AP Junior Development)||0:02:55|
|12||Clyde Logue (Killington Mountain School)||0:03:04|
|13||Benjamin Gomezvillafane (Cycle Sport - Specialized p/b M)||0:03:10|
|14||Evan Clouse (Hot Tubes Development Cycling T)||0:03:12|
|15||Alex Mccormack (Hot Tubes Development Cycling T)||0:04:05|
|16||Kendrick Boots (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Vista Subaru)||0:04:30|
|17||Donovan Birky (Hutches/Bend Dental)||0:04:36|
|18||George Schulz (Van Dessel Factory Team)||0:04:41|
|19||Kevin Goguen (RACE CF)||0:05:34|
|20||Brayden Buchanan (Rad Racing NW)||0:06:00|
|21||Mark Myles (Be Real Sports)||0:06:04|
|22||Nolan Brunner (Boulder Junior Cycling)||0:06:05|
|23||Ben Powers (Riverside Racing)||0:06:14|
|24||Daniel Vaughn (Northampton Cycling Club)||0:06:18|
|25||Donald Seib (BMB Racing)||0:06:42|
|26||Campbell Watson (Boulder Junior Cycling)||0:06:59|
|27||Joseph Lukens (Bend Endurance Academy)||0:07:01|
|28||Gentry Jefferson (Monticello Velo Club)||0:07:32|
|29||Alex Campbell (TEAM CLIF BAR Cycling)||0:07:42|
|30||Ryan Aittaniemi (AP Junior Development)||0:09:04|
|32||Ethan Dellamaestra (Storm Racing Team)||1 lap|
|33||Amai Rawls (Team Louisville)|
|34||Spencer Johnston (Mock Orange Bikes)||2 Laps|
|36||Zachary Young (BoltzStrong)|
|37||Benjamin Harris (Rock Creek Velo)|
|38||Ryan Zwick (CT Cycling Advancement Program)|
|39||Evan Goldberg (Rock Creek Velo)|
|40||Jackson Heath (Riverside Racing)|
|41||Austin Banks (Young Medalists)|
|42||Laraib Laubach (Rock Creek Velo)|
|43||Garrett Smith (Tri Cities Road Club)|
|44||Wiley Melton (Melton Design Build / GS CIAO J)|
|45||Matthew Shea (Somerset Wheelman)|
|46||Tyler Smith (Van Dessel Factory Team)||3 Laps|
|48||Bo Rider (Rock Creek Velo)|
|49||Nathaniel Ryan (New England Devo)|
|50||Aidan Dixon (Rock Creek Velo)|
|51||Brent Franze (Giant Co-Factory Off-Road Team)||4 Laps|
|DNF||Christian Norvold (New England Devo)|