US Cyclo-cross champs started this weekend

By Steve Medcroft in Providence, Rhode Island

The 2006 US Cyclo-cross National Championships got underway Friday morning at Roger Williams Park in Providence Rhode Island. Gone were the whiteout blizzards that marked the opening day of the 2005 championships; they were replaced by cool, overcast conditions, and a superfast, tacky and firm racecourse.

Not gone were the crowds. In fact, the 2006 edition of Nationals, the second consecutive year the event has been held in Providence, is shaping up to be possibly the largest cyclo-cross gathering in US history - 1,940 entrants vying for 28 national titles. Promoters say the numbers represent a 14-percent increase over the 2005 edition and 41-percent growth over 2004.

About 130 men lined up for the elite men's race Saturday, for example. In the Friday's master's racing, several categories were stacked 12 riders wide and more than a dozen rows deep. That dynamic caused all kinds of panic and riders with preferred positions ended up 500 meters ahead of riders relegated to the back rows in just the first lap.

Trebon makes it look easy

Ryan Trebon (Kona) surged off the front in the first lap of the men's elite race Saturday and never looked back. He won by about 30 seconds. Over the course of the sixty minute race, Trebon gradually extended his lead every lap. At first, chasers tried to close the gap, but eventually two smaller chase groups formed into one five-man group consisting of Jonathan Page (Cervelo/Hot Tubes), Tim Johnson (Cannondale/, Todd Wells (GT/Hyundai), Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly), and Barry Wicks (Kona).

For full coverage of the elite men's race, click here.

Anthony & Summerhill take familiar spots on podiums

Jesse Anthony (Team Clifbar) convincingly claimed the U-23 men's national championship today. He dominated the race, from start to finish, after assuming an early lead. Jamie Driscoll (FiordiFruitta) stayed with him for awhile, but eventually faded to fourth position after several chasers closed in. Anthony won his seventh national title. Although he was defeated last year by Troy Wells, the favorite was previously a national champion for six years as a junior and U23 rider.

Danny Summerhill (TIAA Cref/Clifbar) raced off the start line of the elite junior men's race today toward his second consecutive junior national title. On the first lap, the favorite went off the front with Ethan Gilmore (K2 Bike/Okemo/Coyote Hill). During the course of the race, Summerhill steadily extended his lead over Gilmore from 10 seconds to 32 seconds at the end. Gilmore hung tough for second ahead of a late-charging Taylor Phinney (TIAA Cref/Clifbar). Nick Bax (Hot Tubes) caught and passed Nicholas Keough (CL Noonan/Coast to Coast) in the final laps to take fourth.

See full coverage of the U23 and Junior races.

Overend, Tilford among Masters' winners

15 national titles were awarded Friday for the masters' competition that saw 626 riders aged 30 to 66 compete for stars-and-stripes jerseys.

1990 Mountain Bike World Champion and two-time Xterra triathlon world champion Ned Overend (Specialized) earned his latest title with a victory in the men's 50-54 event. The 51-year-old mountain bike icon and one of the most venerable off-road athletes of any generation clocked a winning time of 41 minutes, 54 seconds over the 10.25-mile course to best runner-up Henry Kramer (California Giant Strawberries) by 33 seconds. It was the first time Overend competed at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships since 1985 in Nutley, N.J. - a race that was won by Friday's fifth-place finisher, Paul Curley (Taunton, Mass./Gearworks-Spinarts), and remembered well by Overend.

"I remember that, it was a cold wintry day," Overend recalled. "You didn't have to worry where you started back then, the fields were so small. It's incredible (cyclo-cross) has grown so much." Next up for Overend is Saturday's elite men's race where he'll mix it up with the top American pros.

Another master who regularly competes against elites and pros half his age, Steve Tilford (Verge-Shimano) earned a stars-and-stripes jersey in the men's 45-49 category. Tilford clocked a winning mark of 41:00 over the same distance to better Dennis Farrell (Littleton, Colo./Red Rocks Velo) by 1:16. Like Overend, Tilford will line up Saturday against the pros to measure his talent against the best in the United States.

Many other athletes were crowned national champions as master women and men.

Full reports and results for all categories will be posted here.

Cyclingnews will provide live coverage of the elite women's race Sunday at 2:00 PM US EST.

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