The under 23 men and Cat. 1 junior men raced their cross country national championships under clear blue skies on Friday afternoon. With three races on course at once, it was a bit confusing, but there were no questions about the winners.
Finsterwald battles Grotts in U23 contest
Russell Finsterwald (Subaru-Trek) rode to his first U23 cross country national title on Friday afternoon in Sun Valley, Idaho. Runner-up Howard Grotts (Specialized), who was last year's junior national champion and is a first-year U23, challenged him throughout the race and eventually finished at 52 seconds. A bit further back, Colby Pastore Skyler Trujillo (Niner) finished in third place.
"I felt great. Everything lined up perfect today and it was my day," said Finsterwald, who has one year remaining as U23. He added the U23 title to his previous Junior 17-18 cross country and short track titles.
From the start, Finsterwald and Grotts rode off the front together.
"I just wanted to put as much pressure on Grotts as I could," said Finsterwald. "He would catch me at the top of each climb, but I'd come around him somewhere on the descent and open it up a bit each time. He made me work for it. That was not easy."
Grotts said, "It was a great course for me, but I knew Russell would be the competition for this race. What would happen usually would be that he would get a little gap on the descent, and I'd get him on the climb and maybe get a small gap. Then he would get by me on one of the turns on the descent. We played that game."
On the last two laps, Finsterwald opened up a bit more of a gap on the downhill and eventually he was able to ride away. Finsterwald thought that perhaps Grotts had encountered some lapped rider traffic.
"I was like, 'just keep it together, keep it together.'" said Finsterwald. "I didn't want anything to happen out there. I had to stay focused the whole time."
Grotts did lose a bit of time on the final climb, when he caught a lapped rider who bobbled and had to get off and walk. That meant Grotts had to walk a bit, too, though probably not enough to affect the outcome of the race.
"I knew that if Russell got into the descent first, he would take it barring any mechanicals or crashes," said Grotts.
That is just what happened and Finsterwald rode in alone for the win, ahead of Grotts.
Although he did not pressure the two leaders, Trujillo was happy to finish solo in third. "I was where I wanted to be," he said. "I'm not able to keep up with those two, but if I was off the front of everybody else, it was a great spot for me to be in."
"I just kept watching my back, and Zach Valdez was right behind me - maybe 15 seconds the whole time. I was trying to pace myself to stay away from him. I knew he was there, but I didn't want to let him catch me."
Swenson cruises to junior 17-18 win
Keegan Swenson (Cannondale) improved on his second place finish of last year's junior 17-18 national championship by winning this year's event. Swenson made it look easy, riding so fast he was effectively riding in third place in the U23 race if the initial three-minute starting interval adjustment was considered. Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete/Specialized) was second ahead of Cody Phillips in third.
"I felt great. Everything went fairly smooth," said Swenson to Cyclingnews. "I didn't have a call-up. I was probably starting in the second row. I tried to hang on for the first bit through the rocks, and then I worked my way up. I took the lead on the first climb and slowly opened up a little gap. I could see Lucas [Newcomb] back behind me for a bit, and I just tried to increase my lead."
"Once I had a gap on Lucas, it was motivation to catch as many U23s as I could. They were all great about letting me pass."
Swenson previously won the junior men's 15-16 title two years ago.
Newcomb got a good start, felt better than the thought he would and was able to go with the front group.
"Keegan was behind me and then just went off and did his crazy pace," said Newcomb. "I tried to latch on and was able to break away a little from the rest of the group. I kept him in sight for about two laps. On the third lap, I could see him up there, but I just kept my own pace to stay strong and hold off everyone else."
Newcomb did just that, finishing in second, despite dropping his chain and having to run to the top of the climb. "I was a little afraid that Cody Phillips, who was behind me, would catch me, but once I made it to the bottom, I knew I was ok."
Phillips was caught in an exciting battle for third place. "The last lap, we were all together. I was sitting there trying to catch my breath and I just punched it," said Phillips. "Sepp [Kuss] tried to pass me back and I punched it again and gassed it and gave it everything I had to the top. Then I was just freaking out the whole descent trying not to crash or flat or anything. I'm super stoked. It was a great race."
Kuss crossed the line in fourth. "I tried to go hard at the bottom on that last lap and see how it went. It was good, but I didn't have the legs on the steep stuff. Cody got around me and went fast on the descent. It was a nailbiter."
Casey Williams (Whole Athlete/Specialized) was fifth after sprinting Kuss for fourth place.
Segedin wins junior 15-16 title
Marcus Segedin (Whole Athlete/Specialized) earned the stars-and-stripes jerseys in the 15-16 race.
"I can't believe it - it's such an honor," said a surprised Segedin at the finish. "I have so many people to thank. It was a flawless race, with no mechanicals."
"I felt great. It was hot and on the last lap, my legs started to cramp up a bit, but it was a great race. I could never have expected this."
Garrett Gerchar (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Development) finished in second place, 30 seconds off Segedin.
Landen Beckner (Montana Velo) was in the lead for a time, but eventually faded to third. "I think I went off a little too fast," said Beckner. "The guys were too strong on that climb, and I'm just happy to be in their company."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Russell Finsterwald (Subaru Trek)||1:32:27|
|2||Howard Grotts (Fort Lewis College)||0:00:52|
|3||Skyler Trujillo (Niner Stans Ergon)||0:06:28|
|4||Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:07:12|
|5||Anthony Smith (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:07:21|
|6||Zach Mcdonald (Team Rapha-Focus)||0:08:33|
|7||Kerry Werner (USA U23 BMC development team)||0:09:39|
|9||Samuel Morrison (The Gear Movement/Epic Pro Cycling)||0:12:30|
|10||Cole Oberman (Guys Racing Club)||0:12:41|
|12||Davis Bentley (Above Category Racing)||0:13:09|
|13||Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms)||0:13:10|
|14||Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)||0:14:51|
|15||Greg Krieger (Eriksen Cycles)||0:15:42|
|16||Gerald Drummond (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)||0:19:31|
|18||Travis Glysson (AZ Devo)||0:21:55|
|20||Clancy Ryburn (Fort Lewis College)||0:30:40|
|-1lap||Colby Pastore (Santa Cruz X Fusion)|
|-1lap||Tanner Hurst (Carpe Diem Racing)|
|-1lap||Andrew Moore (College of William and Mary)|
|-1lap||Izzy Cohan (Foundation/Century Road Club)|
|DNF||Payson Mcelveen (USA U23)|
|DNF||Max Houtzager (Santa Cruz-X Fusion)|
|DNF||Cody Kukulski (Northern Arizona University)|
|DNF||William Curtis (Whole Athlete)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing)||1:17:08|
|2||Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete)||0:02:21|
|5||Casey Williams (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:03:44|
|6||Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete)||0:03:48|
|7||Skyler Taylor (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)||0:06:10|
|9||Shane Skelton (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:06:51|
|10||Stephan Davoust (Durango Devo)||0:07:19|
|12||Levi Kurlander (Durango Devo)||0:07:44|
|13||Luke Vrouwenvelder (Cycle Youth)||0:08:16|
|14||Ryan Geiger (AZ Devo)||0:08:26|
|15||Cooper Drummond (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)||0:08:37|
|17||Cody Cupp (Methow Valley Cycling)||0:10:04|
|18||Taylor Smith (Cannondale Factory Racing)||0:10:12|
|20||Tyler Coplea (MTB PRO Team: BMC Mountainbike)||0:10:44|
|25||Zachary Carlson (Matrix/RBM/Matrix Cycling Club)||0:12:18|
|26||Ben Hoffman (Team Muleterro/Gallatin Valley)||0:12:19|
|27||Mason Shea (Bicycle Sport Shop Mountain Bike)||0:12:31|
|28||Michael Sampson (Team Alpine Clinic RCN)||0:12:48|
|29||Brandon Dillard (Owens Healthcare)||0:13:22|
|31||Wyatt Myers (Team Simple Green/Bike Religion)||0:13:58|
|32||Wyatt Morin (Victory Velo Racing)||0:14:44|
|33||Jack Keane (Above Category Racing)||0:15:19|
|34||Garrett Gaither (Cynergy Cycles Race Team/Cynergy)||0:15:41|
|35||Casey Hildebrandt (Twin Six)||0:17:41|
|36||Cal Skilsky (AZ Devo)||0:17:58|
|37||Keelan Christensen (Methow Valley Cycling)||0:18:47|
|38||Luke Beemer (Bicycle Outfitters Indy)||0:18:53|
|40||Lucas Rowton (Montrose Bike Shop- CW Builders)||0:19:21|
|41||Kyle Skeen (Cynergy Cycles Racing)||0:19:37|
|42||Brett Poulton (Vision Quest LLC)||0:19:58|
|43||Elliott Baring (Cycle Youth)||0:21:38|
|45||James Dunaway (Cycle Youth)||0:24:02|
|46||Andris Delins (Gopher Wheelmen)||0:24:31|
|47||Cesar Tidrick (Bicycle Sport Shop Mountain Bike)||0:24:54|
|48||Griffith Wendland (Sports Garage Cycling)||0:26:13|
|49||Haakon Sigurslid (Durango Devo)||0:33:22|
|50||Justin Noel (SMBA(Singletrack Mountain Bike)||0:33:55|
|51||Alek Minkis (Bicycle Outfitters Indy)||0:38:04|
|-1lap||Luke Allen (Matrix Cycling Club)|
|DNF||Matthew Debalski (Front Rangers Junior Cycling)|
|DNF||Dillen Maurer (Montrose Cycling Club)|
|DNF||Spence Peterson (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)|
|DNF||Tobin Ortenblad (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)|
|DNF||Nick Thomas (AZ Devo)|
|DNF||Bryan Duke (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Marcus Segedin (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||1:28:19|
|2||Garrett Gerchar (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)||0:00:30|
|3||Landen Beckner (Montana Velo)||0:01:25|
|6||Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:01:53|
|8||Silas Blunk (Whole Athlete-Specialized)||0:04:05|
|9||W Grant Ellwood (SMBA(Singletrack Mountain Bike)||0:05:23|
|10||Nolan Brady (Old Town Bicycle Race Team)||0:05:48|
|11||Kurtis Barth (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)||0:06:31|
|12||Zachary Peterson (KUHL)||0:07:32|
|13||Neilson Powless (Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz Elite)||0:07:43|
|14||Christian Husband (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road/Team Velos)||0:07:44|
|15||Jacob Sacket (Tri-City Bicycles)||0:09:35|
|16||Javier Colton (Bend Endurance Academy)||0:10:03|
|19||Adin Baird (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)||0:11:47|
|20||Liam Earl (BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev)||0:11:50|
|22||Connor Barrett (Life Time Fitness Racing)||0:13:15|
|24||Aleck Crofoot (Singletrack Racing Development)||0:14:50|
|25||Daniel Hall (Singletrack Racing Development)||0:14:56|
|27||Taylor Squillaci (Get Out! New Mexico)||0:16:50|
|28||Jake Therrien (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW)||0:18:19|
|29||Kaden Murdock (ZiaVelo Racing Club/ZiaVelo)||0:18:22|
|31||Lukas Giesen (Get Out! New Mexico)||0:20:48|
|34||Kenny Polley (AZ Devo)||0:31:55|
|DNF||Jorge Munoz Jr (Dominion - Falcon Bank)|
|DNF||Anders Nystrom (BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev)|
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
Latest on Cyclingnews
Mur de Huy a triple threat for 24 women's teams at La Flèche WallonneCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling surprise absence on invitation list for final pair of Ardennes Classics
UCI recommends strict measures in third season of COVID-19 pandemicBelgian teams prepared, Van Avermaet: I'm not some kind of Djokovic
Floods wreak havoc at Vuelta al Tachira in Venezuela - VideoOrganisers criticised for routing peloton through pools of water at finale of stage 2
Another world champion-edition Specialized Tarmac SL7 for Julian AlaphilippeNew staid design goes light on rainbow theme
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.