Finsterwald races to U23 cross country national title

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."

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
U23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Russell Finsterwald (Subaru Trek)1:32:27
2Howard Grotts (Fort Lewis College)0:00:52
3Skyler Trujillo (Niner Stans Ergon)0:06:28
4Zachary Valdez (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:07:12
5Anthony Smith (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:07:21
6Zach Mcdonald (Team Rapha-Focus)0:08:33
7Kerry Werner (USA U23 BMC development team)0:09:39
8Seamus Powell0:10:11
9Samuel Morrison (The Gear Movement/Epic Pro Cycling)0:12:30
10Cole Oberman (Guys Racing Club)0:12:41
11Alex Wild0:12:57
12Davis Bentley (Above Category Racing)0:13:09
13Cody Kaiser (California Giant Berry Farms)0:13:10
14Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)0:14:51
15Greg Krieger (Eriksen Cycles)0:15:42
16Gerald Drummond (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)0:19:31
17Michael Zanetti0:20:21
18Travis Glysson (AZ Devo)0:21:55
19Brandon Lofton0:23:22
20Clancy Ryburn (Fort Lewis College)0:30:40
-1lapColby Pastore (Santa Cruz X Fusion)Row 20 - Cell 2
-1lapTanner Hurst (Carpe Diem Racing)Row 21 - Cell 2
-1lapJoshua MurdockRow 22 - Cell 2
-1lapAndrew Moore (College of William and Mary)Row 23 - Cell 2
-1lapIzzy Cohan (Foundation/Century Road Club)Row 24 - Cell 2
-1lapSam BlomquistRow 25 - Cell 2
DNFPayson Mcelveen (USA U23)Row 26 - Cell 2
DNFMax Houtzager (Santa Cruz-X Fusion)Row 27 - Cell 2
DNFCody Kukulski (Northern Arizona University)Row 28 - Cell 2
DNFWilliam Curtis (Whole Athlete)Row 29 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Cat. 1 Junior men 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing)1:17:08
2Lucas Newcomb (Whole Athlete)0:02:21
3Cody Phillips0:03:39
4Sepp Kuss0:03:43
5Casey Williams (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:03:44
6Jacob Albrecht (Whole Athlete)0:03:48
7Skyler Taylor (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)0:06:10
8Eliel Anttila0:06:22
9Shane Skelton (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:06:51
10Stephan Davoust (Durango Devo)0:07:19
11Garrett Lundberg0:07:33
12Levi Kurlander (Durango Devo)0:07:44
13Luke Vrouwenvelder (Cycle Youth)0:08:16
14Ryan Geiger (AZ Devo)0:08:26
15Cooper Drummond (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)0:08:37
16Isaac Stackonis0:08:43
17Cody Cupp (Methow Valley Cycling)0:10:04
18Taylor Smith (Cannondale Factory Racing)0:10:12
19Chase Dickens0:10:19
20Tyler Coplea (MTB PRO Team: BMC Mountainbike)0:10:44
21Keegan Swirbul0:11:20
22Matthew Erbentraut0:11:25
23Jarred Jordan0:12:01
24Gunner Dygert0:12:15
25Zachary Carlson (Matrix/RBM/Matrix Cycling Club)0:12:18
26Ben Hoffman (Team Muleterro/Gallatin Valley)0:12:19
27Mason Shea (Bicycle Sport Shop Mountain Bike)0:12:31
28Michael Sampson (Team Alpine Clinic RCN)0:12:48
29Brandon Dillard (Owens Healthcare)0:13:22
30Tyler Jones0:13:49
31Wyatt Myers (Team Simple Green/Bike Religion)0:13:58
32Wyatt Morin (Victory Velo Racing)0:14:44
33Jack Keane (Above Category Racing)0:15:19
34Garrett Gaither (Cynergy Cycles Race Team/Cynergy)0:15:41
35Casey Hildebrandt (Twin Six)0:17:41
36Cal Skilsky (AZ Devo)0:17:58
37Keelan Christensen (Methow Valley Cycling)0:18:47
38Luke Beemer (Bicycle Outfitters Indy)0:18:53
39Tyler Fox0:19:15
40Lucas Rowton (Montrose Bike Shop- CW Builders)0:19:21
41Kyle Skeen (Cynergy Cycles Racing)0:19:37
42Brett Poulton (Vision Quest LLC)0:19:58
43Elliott Baring (Cycle Youth)0:21:38
44Brandon Kirkham0:23:52
45James Dunaway (Cycle Youth)0:24:02
46Andris Delins (Gopher Wheelmen)0:24:31
47Cesar Tidrick (Bicycle Sport Shop Mountain Bike)0:24:54
48Griffith Wendland (Sports Garage Cycling)0:26:13
49Haakon Sigurslid (Durango Devo)0:33:22
50Justin Noel (SMBA(Singletrack Mountain Bike)0:33:55
51Alek Minkis (Bicycle Outfitters Indy)0:38:04
-1lapAdam ChristopherRow 51 - Cell 2
-1lapLuke Allen (Matrix Cycling Club)Row 52 - Cell 2
DNFMatthew Debalski (Front Rangers Junior Cycling)Row 53 - Cell 2
DNFDillen Maurer (Montrose Cycling Club)Row 54 - Cell 2
DNFSpence Peterson (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)Row 55 - Cell 2
DNFTobin Ortenblad (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)Row 56 - Cell 2
DNFNathan MurciaRow 57 - Cell 2
DNFIan WilkeyRow 58 - Cell 2
DNFNick Thomas (AZ Devo)Row 59 - Cell 2
DNFIan StoweRow 60 - Cell 2
DNFBryan Duke (Ritte Elite U23 Development Team)Row 61 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Cat. 1 Junior men 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marcus Segedin (Whole Athlete-Specialized)1:28:19
2Garrett Gerchar (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)0:00:30
3Landen Beckner (Montana Velo)0:01:25
4Griffin Park0:01:33
5Peter Karinen0:01:51
6Sean Bennett (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:01:53
7Ben Spurr0:02:25
8Silas Blunk (Whole Athlete-Specialized)0:04:05
9W Grant Ellwood (SMBA(Singletrack Mountain Bike)0:05:23
10Nolan Brady (Old Town Bicycle Race Team)0:05:48
11Kurtis Barth (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)0:06:31
12Zachary Peterson (KUHL)0:07:32
13Neilson Powless (Folsom Bike/Mercedes Benz Elite)0:07:43
14Christian Husband (Sho-air/Rock 'n Road/Team Velos)0:07:44
15Jacob Sacket (Tri-City Bicycles)0:09:35
16Javier Colton (Bend Endurance Academy)0:10:03
17Joe Christiansen0:10:05
18Lance Haidet0:11:15
19Adin Baird (BJC/Tokyo Joe's Junior Development)0:11:47
20Liam Earl (BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev)0:11:50
21Justin Griffin0:12:45
22Connor Barrett (Life Time Fitness Racing)0:13:15
23Daniel Henderson0:13:28
24Aleck Crofoot (Singletrack Racing Development)0:14:50
25Daniel Hall (Singletrack Racing Development)0:14:56
26Chance Tiner0:15:32
27Taylor Squillaci (Get Out! New Mexico)0:16:50
28Jake Therrien (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing NW)0:18:19
29Kaden Murdock (ZiaVelo Racing Club/ZiaVelo)0:18:22
30Frank Miles0:20:47
31Lukas Giesen (Get Out! New Mexico)0:20:48
32Evan Williams0:27:15
33Ryan Totman0:27:55
34Kenny Polley (AZ Devo)0:31:55
DNFJorge Munoz Jr (Dominion - Falcon Bank)Row 34 - Cell 2
DNFAnders Nystrom (BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev)Row 35 - Cell 2

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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.

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