Todd Wells (Specialized-Cal Giant) captured his first cyclo-cross win of the season, the one that counted the most, at the UCI elite men's USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships held on Sunday in Bend, Oregon. The newly-crowned national champion outgunned the hometown favourite Ryan Trebon (Kona-FSA) who placed second and recent US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross (USGP) overall winner Jeremy Powers (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) in third.
Wells won the mountain bike cross-country and short track national championships earlier this year. He took some time off to recover from a successful summer of racing before diving into the cyclo-cross season this Fall with a goal of winning the national title. He is no stranger cyclo-cross stars and stripes jersey, having won the event on two previous occasions - in 2001 and 2005.
"All my jerseys are pretty special to me but it's always nice to get a title and this one is right up there with the others," Wells said.
Wells dedicated his victory to friend and former team manager, Jerry Hutchinson, who passed away this summer. "He passed away six weeks ago and I wanted to dedicate the race to him and get a victory," Wells said. "I was thinking about him the whole time and I felt like he was with me out there."
Wells caught the early race leader, Powers, on the second lap and the pair raced shoulder-to-shoulder until a crash before the circuit's fly over caused both riders to get tangled up. Wells was able to get himself up and going within several seconds; Powers was less fortunate, however. He was passed by Trebon and left to chase in third place.
"Jeremy crashed around one of the corners before the fly over and I ran into him," Wells said. "My foot got stuck in his wheel and I'm not sure if that screwed up his wheel or not. It took us a couple of seconds to come untangled."
Wells' flawless second half of the race allowed him to power through the sluggish mud and maintain a five to 10-second margin ahead of a charging Trebon. Powers, disappointed by his unfortunate crash, rode to the finish line in third place.
"I heard the time checks to Trebon but I knew that if I didn't make any mistakes then I could go through the corners faster than him," Wells said. "He was gaining on me in the power sections. I didn't want to go to deep because I knew at that point that it was mine to lose."
Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com stacked third, fourth and fifth place with Powers, who was the odds-on favourite to win the jersey after securing the USGP and North American Cyclo-cross Trophy (NACT) overall series, Jamey Driscoll, who recently won doubles at Jingle Cross and Tim Johnson, the defending title holder.
"I knew that just because you won every race previous doesn't mean you are going to win this one," Wells said. "That's the cool thing about national champs, the one day championships, everyone lines up with the same shot at winning."
Crashes reshuffle the top contenders
The UCI elite men's field lined up on a challenging course built throughout the Old Mill District outside of Bend, Oregon. The circuit had similarities to the previous year's design - however, race organisers made several changes that included various steep inclines, a fly over, a set of barriers located at the base of a lengthy climb and a set of stairs to run up right before the finishing straightaway.
"These guys are so good and the starts just keep getting faster and faster," said Wells. "I didn't have the best start because there were lots of crashes but I managed to avoid them and stay upright. I was taking risks in the corners that I felt like I could get through fast. There were some off-cambre wet sections that were tough."
Chris Jones (Rapha-Focus) pushed the pace on the first lap with Powers in tow. The pair gained a several seconds as their competitors behind fumbled to stay upright. Half a lap in, Powers moved ahead of Jones in a solo getaway. Many crashes marred the opening lap and one rider that went down early was Trebon. The crash caused Jones, who was back in the chase group, to go down as well.
"There was a course marker leaning over and I just hooked my bars and it spun me pretty hard on the bars," Trebon said. "Unfortunately, I took Chris Jones out too but I didn't see it there and I came around the turn and it was just in the course. It happens."
Powers muscled through the deep mud ahead of the charging field. Those chasing included Johnson, Trebon, Wells, Barry Wicks (Kona-FSA), Jesse Anthony (Cal Giant-Specialized), Adam Craig (Giant), Alex Candelario (World Bicycle Relief) and Driscoll.
Wells caught up to Powers on the second lap and the pair looked evenly matched on the circuit's difficult obstacles with both riders bunny hopping the barriers and powering neck-to-neck through the second, lower section of the course affectionately named the oatmeal bowl after event sponsor Bob's Red Mill.
However, Powers' race for first place was cut short when he crashed before the fly over. "Thanks guys, 100 emails, 131 replies on twitter," he tweeted following the race. "Appreciate ALL of your support. I wish I could have pulled that off today. I had great legs. There will be another chances. IF WINNING COMES EASY, YOU'LL NEVER APPRECIATE WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THERE!"
Trebon worked his way into second place, passing Powers as the former leader struggled to get his bike in order after the crash. Despite Trebon's biggest effort to claw back the slim 10-second gap to Wells he was not successful and forced to settle for second place ahead of Powers in third.
"Those guys were going hard and I caught Powers but I just couldn't get Todd," Trebon said. "I was digging as hard as I could with three laps to go. My hats off to Todd because he was riding a great race. I was pulling him back a little in the boggy section but he was pulling away from me in the middle area. It was a good race and the crowd was awesome."
Driscoll worked his way into a respectable fourth place ahead of his teammate Johnson in fifth, Wicks in sixth, Craig in seventh, Tristan Schouten (Nova Cycle Sports Foundation) in eighth, Candelario in ninth and Anthony rounding out the tenth place.
|1||Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Racing)||1:00:49|
|2||Ryan Trebon (Kona)||0:00:25|
|3||Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)||0:01:27|
|4||James Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)||0:02:03|
|5||Timothy Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com)|
|6||Barry Wicks (Kona)||0:02:14|
|7||Adam Craig (Rabobank-Giant Off Road Team)||0:02:40|
|8||Tristan Schouten (cyclocrossracing.com/Blue/Rolf)||0:03:17|
|9||Alex Candelario (World Bicycle Relief)||0:03:50|
|10||Jesse Anthony (California Giant-Specialized)||0:04:19|
|11||Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage / Scott)||0:04:37|
|12||Spencer Paxson (Team S&M Young Guns)||0:04:41|
|13||Mitch Hoke (Clif Bar Development Team)||0:05:02|
|14||Sean Babcock (Kona)||0:05:12|
|15||Christopher Jones (Rapha Focus)||0:05:28|
|16||Erik Tonkin (Kona)||0:05:33|
|17||Joshua Dillon (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches-Radix)||0:05:36|
|18||Carl Decker (Giant)||0:05:38|
|19||Allen Krughoff (Boulder Cycle Sport)||0:05:41|
|20||Peter Webber (Boulder Cycle Sport)||0:06:00|
|21||Matt Pacocha (Hudz-Subaru)||0:06:16|
|22||Brady Kappius (Team Clif Bar)||0:06:17|
|23||Jake Wells (Hudz-Subaru)||0:06:21|
|24||Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport)||0:06:29|
|25||Tyler Wren (Boo Bicycles)||0:06:33|
|26||Adam Mcgrath (Feedback Sports/Van Dessel)||0:06:50|
|27||Aaron Bradford (Specialized/Onsite Ultrasound)||0:07:03|
|28||Tim Allen (Niner)||0:07:09|
|29||Russell Stevenson (Cycling Northwest)||0:07:21|
|30||Frank Spiteri (Peninsula Velo Cycling Club/Pen)||0:07:23|
|31||Troy Wells (Team Clif Bar)||0:07:45|
|32||Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com)||0:08:08|
|33||Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart)||0:08:13|
|34||Ryan Iddings (Redline)||0:08:36|
|35||Stephen Tilford (Tradewind Energy/Trek)||-2laps|
|36||Jared Nieters (Haymarket Bicycles)|
|38||Scott Chapin (Rocklobster!!!)|
|39||Weston Schempf (Charm City Cycling Llc)|
|40||John Curry (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)|
|42||Brad Cole (Kccx Verge Elite Cyclocross Tea)|
|43||Justin Robinson (California Giant Cycling/Califo)|
|44||Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio)|
|45||Nathan Bannerman (Wheatland Wheelers)|
|46||Scott Frederick (Inland Construction)|
|47||Brue Syvertsen (Murder)|
|48||Troy Heithecker (Echelon Energy)|
|49||Ward Baker (Justin'S / Titus Mountain Bike)|
|50||Ian Brown (River City Bicycles / Tonic Fab)|
|51||Eric Rasmussen (Kuhl)|
|52||Michael Gallagher (Cyclocrossracing.Com P/B Blue)|
|53||John Behrens (Bailey Bikes)|
|56||Dan Chabanov (Century Road Club Association/J)|
|57||Kevin Smallman (Cannondale)|
|60||Greg Wittwer (Alan North America Cycling)|
|61||Logan Wetzel (Cbtinc/Cyclingnorthwest)|
|62||Lawrence Leonard (Successful Living)|
|64||Kevin Mullervy (Escalera Racing Club/Team Exerg)|
|65||Jason Siegle (Bike Religion)|
|66||Davy Yeater (River City Bicycles / Cannondal)|
|67||Shawn Harshman (Pm Racing Team)|
|69||Alex Ryan (Champion System/ Cannondale)|
|70||Aaron Bouplon (Rockymounts Izze Racing)|
|71||Frederick Bottger (Pasadena Athletic Association)|
|72||Brandon Gritters (Rock N Road)|
|76||Conor Mullervy (Team Exergy)|
|77||Dave Weaver (Alan N. America Cycling Team)|
|78||Kevin Bradford-Parish (Emde Sports/Emdesports.Com/Fitn)|
|79||David Wilcox (Pedro'S Grassroots Cycling Club)|
|80||Kenny Wehn (Colavita Racing Inc./Colavita R)|
|82||John Frey (Hutch'S Westside Bend Or)|
|83||Michael Kennedy (Fetzer)|
|84||Joshua Whitmore (Globalbike Racing/Team Globalbi)|
|85||Benjamin Dodge (Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club)|
|86||Eric Colton (The Team)|
|87||Lucas Livermon (Mock Orange Bikes)|
|89||Derek Yarra (Murder)|
|90||Alan Adams (Lake Washington Velo/Hagens Ber)|
|91||Chad Cheeney (Durango Devo)|
|93||Bobby Langin (Platinum Performance Cycling Te)|
|94||Collin Samaan (Kingsnorth International Wheele)|
|95||Skip Spaude (Nova Cycle Sports Foundation Inc.)|
|96||Jim Gentes (Team Rambuski Law)|
|97||Garrett Mcallister (Team Wisconsin/Team Wisconsin /)|
|101||Michael Birner (Ben'S Performance Bicycles Inc)|
|102||Gregg Shanefelt (Zephyr Wheel Sports)|
|107||John Flack (Cbc Racing/Olympia Orthopaedic)|
|DNF||Brian Matter (Team Geargrinder/Team Geargrinder)|
|DNF||Travis Livermon (Mock Orange Racing)|
|DNF||Jonathan Baker (Hudz-Subaru)|
|DNF||Nathanael Wyatt (Carolina Fatz Pb Santa Cruz Bic)|
|DNF||Anton Petrov (Bike Religion)|
|DSQ||Nicholas Weighall (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)|