Brunner goes back-to-back as elite men's champ at Pan-Ams in Falmouth

Elite men's podium at 2022 Pan Am Cyclocross Championships (L to R): Curtis White in second, winner Eric Brunner, Lance Haidet in third
Elite men's podium at 2022 Pan Am Cyclocross Championships (L to R): Curtis White in second, winner Eric Brunner, Lance Haidet in third (Image credit: Start Smart Cycling)

Eric Brunner (Blue Competition Cycles p/b Build) soloed to victory in the elite men’s race Friday at the Pan-American Cyclocross Championships in Falmouth, Massachusetts and retained his title for a second year.

Curtis White (Steve Tilford Foundation) finished 25 seconds back to settle for the silver medal for a third consecutive edition of the Pan Ams. Lance Haidet (L39ION of Los Angeles) took the bronze, his top finish at a cyclocross race this season, to make it an all-US podium. Gunnar Holmgren (Pivot Cycles-OTE) was the top Canadian in ninth place.

“I knew Curtis was probably going to be the strongest guy in the race that I needed to look out for. I could tell he was watching me too, so it was definitely a very tactical race,” Brunner said at the finish, champion’s jersey and gold medal secured for another year.

The men’s field had a fast start with the sun beating down on the dry course at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds, only the wind trying to create havoc on the open sections for the 27-rider field.

Brunner wanted to leave nothing to chance, and he took to the front from the hole shot but then settled into a group a few places back and out of the wind.

“Right from the first lap I knew I was going to need to be patient because it’s not the most selective course. There are a lot of corners and not so many long straightaways and climbs. I just sat in the group and tried to stay toward the front but not lead,” Brunner said at the finish. 

Brunner, White and Haidet rode together for the first lap with a large group of 12 that included Scott McGill, Scott Funston (Blue Competition Cycles p/b Build), Caleb Swartz (Giant/ENVE), Brannan Fix (Fix Racing), Tyler Clark (CHC Armada), Ben Frederick (Small Monsters Project), Sam Brown (Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Silverthorne) and Canadians Holmgren and Michael van den Ham (Giant x Easton). 

Through the long sand pit to start the second lap, gaps began to open.

“The sand was the trickiest, technical section. Often we’d come out of there with a small gap. The climb up to the barn - from the woods to the top of the course at the barn - was the hardest, physically, I thought,” Brunner recounted.

“Eventually I put in an attack on the sixth lap, and took it to the finish line.”

By the end of the sixth lap, Brunner was close to 10 seconds ahead of White, and Haidet and McGill still close. McGill made inroads on White and Haidet, but lost significant time on the last lap to fall one spot off the podium.

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