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Wells rides to Pan American win

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Sam Schultz (USA)

Sam Schultz (USA)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Stephen Ettinger (USA) en route to a 7th place finish in the U23 cross country.

Stephen Ettinger (USA) en route to a 7th place finish in the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Rob Squire (USA) earned a bronze medal in the U23 cross country.

Rob Squire (USA) earned a bronze medal in the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Henrique Avancini (Brazil) leading Rafael Escarcega Salazar (Mexico) in the U23 cross country.

Henrique Avancini (Brazil) leading Rafael Escarcega Salazar (Mexico) in the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Stephen Ettinger and Henrique Avancini (Brazil) lead at the start of the U23 cross country.

Stephen Ettinger and Henrique Avancini (Brazil) lead at the start of the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Sherman Paiva (Brazil) wins gold in the U23 cross country.

Sherman Paiva (Brazil) wins gold in the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Canadian Coach Dan Proulx and Max Plaxton discussed the Colombian protest with Chief Josée Bedard.

Canadian Coach Dan Proulx and Max Plaxton discussed the Colombian protest with Chief Josée Bedard.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Catriel Soto (Argentina)

Catriel Soto (Argentina)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) had a very impressive ride to take silver.

Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) had a very impressive ride to take silver.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) and Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica).

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) and Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica).
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Plaxton (Canada) works his way back up through the field.

Plaxton (Canada) works his way back up through the field.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Max Plaxton (Canada) poses for a photo with admirers.

Max Plaxton (Canada) poses for a photo with admirers.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) followed by Canada's Derek Zandstra and Andrew Watson.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) followed by Canada's Derek Zandstra and Andrew Watson.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Derek Zandstra (Canada), Andrew Watson (Canada), Catriel Soto (Argentina), Sam Schultz (USA).

Derek Zandstra (Canada), Andrew Watson (Canada), Catriel Soto (Argentina), Sam Schultz (USA).
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Michael Broderick (USA) and Max Plaxton (Canada).

Michael Broderick (USA) and Max Plaxton (Canada).
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Luís Anderson Mejía Sánchez (Colombia)

Luís Anderson Mejía Sánchez (Colombia)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The U23 men's podium (l-r): Henrique Avancini, Sherman Paiva and Rob Squire.

The U23 men's podium (l-r): Henrique Avancini, Sherman Paiva and Rob Squire.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Russell Finsterwald (USA) finished 9th in the U23 cross country.

Russell Finsterwald (USA) finished 9th in the U23 cross country.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Riders await the start of the elite men's cross country.

Riders await the start of the elite men's cross country.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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Todd Wells (USA) gets some encouragement during his gold medal winning race.

Todd Wells (USA) gets some encouragement during his gold medal winning race.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) earned silver in the men's cross country.

Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) earned silver in the men's cross country.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) in his stars-and-stripes jersey.

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) in his stars-and-stripes jersey.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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The elite men are off!

The elite men are off!
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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Todd Wells (USA) awaits the start.

Todd Wells (USA) awaits the start.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)
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The elite men's podium (l-r): Rubens Valeriano, Todd Wells and Max Plaxton.

The elite men's podium (l-r): Rubens Valeriano, Todd Wells and Max Plaxton.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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US rider Todd Wells wins.

US rider Todd Wells wins.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Todd Wells (USA) and Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) battle at the head of the race.

Todd Wells (USA) and Rubens Valeriano (Brazil) battle at the head of the race.
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Todd Wells (USA) on his way to gold in the men's cross country.

Todd Wells (USA) on his way to gold in the men's cross country.
(Image credit: Wenceslao Rodriguez/ WRS IMAGENES)

American Todd Wells was the favourite coming into the men's six-lap race, fresh off his California win at Fontana, but there were plenty of other riders in contention, including Canada's Max Plaxton and Wells' countryman Sam Schultz.

However, it was unheralded Reubens Valeriano of Brazil who joined Wells at the front on the first lap. Chasing on his own was Colombian Fabio Castañeda Monsalve, and behind him, a chase group formed containing Schultz, his team mate Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Canadians Andrew Watson and Derek Zandstra, Catriel Soto (Argentina), Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica) and others. All these riders were within 40 seconds of the leaders.

Missing from this group was Plaxton, who had crashed into a fallen rider on the start loop, dropping back to the mid-teens. His chase would see him leapfrogging from group to group as he worked his way back into contention. As Monsalve faded, his countryman Luis Anderson Mejia Sanchez moved into third, while the Watson-Zandstra-Schultz group was gradually shedding riders due to the pace and increasing heat.

The front pair were set, although Wells received a bit of a scare mid-race when a crash dropped him back 15 seconds on Valeriano. The Specialized pro quickly caught up, and then attacked late in the third lap to open a gap. His lead rapidly grew to 40 seconds, and then steadied for the remainder of the race.

"I've come into the start of the season before with good form, and then had mechanicals or crashes, and gotten thirds, fourths and fifths, so it was really good to get the 'W'," said Wells.

"That Brazilian guy was riding really well, and I tried a bunch of times to attack him and get a gap, but I couldn't drop him. Then I had a little crash on an off cambre section, and after I got back up, I attacked on a flatter section and finally got away. To get this win, and in Fontana a couple of weeks ago, is a great start to the season."

Behind, Plaxton had caught and dropped all the chasers but Sanchez, and he finally caught the Colombian in the last lap, taking the lead on the final technical descent to win the bronze medal.

Unfortunately for Plaxton, he was about to receive his second setback of the race, when the Colombian team protested, claiming that the Canadian had shoved their rider to take the lead before the final descent. Plaxton countered that the Colombian tried to squeeze him into the bushes, and that he had put his arm out to stop being pushed off the course.

Both riders met with chief commissaire Josée Bedard to provide their sides of the story - there were no corroborating witnesses to support either version. That is, until the Colombians claimed that the official in the feed zone down the hill behind the incident saw what happened, and would support their version.

The said official, when brought into the fray, immediately recanted, stating that he had not seen anything, and that the Colombians had told him what to say... The Colombians then backpedalled away from the situation and Plaxton kept third.

Just another day of racing in Latin America...

Plaxton just shook his head about the incident. "I've raced a bunch of Pan Ams now, and there's always something going on. When I went down at the start, I basically t-boned a guy in front of me and went over the bars, twisting my shifters all around," he explained.

"I was pretty far back, but I just rode a steady race and got back up there, which proves that I was strong enough. Then he started squeezing me into the bushes and I had nowhere to go, so I had to take my hand off the bars and push him back. I was getting a little worried about how long [the protest] was taking, but it all worked out."

In the five lap Under-23 race, two Brazilian riders rode off the front on the first lap and stayed away all race, with Sherman Paiva taking the victory ahead of Henrique Avancini. American Rob Squire took the bronze medal after a consistent ride.

Provisional results

Elite Men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Todd Wells (United States of America)
2Rubens Valeriano (Brazil)
3Max Plaxton (Canada)
4Luís Anderson Mejía Sánchez (Colombia)
5Andrew Watson (Canada)
6Sam Schultz (United States of America)
7Derek Zandstra (Canada)
8Catriel Soto (Argentina)
9Paolo Montoya (Costa Rica)
10Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (United States of America)
11Edivando Cruz (Brazil)
12Rapheal Gangne (Canada)
13Manuel Prado (Costa Rica)
14Fabio Castañeda Monsalve (Colombia)
15Cristobal Silva (Chile)
16Michael Broderick (United States of America)
17Gonzalo Aravena (Chile)
18Federico Ramirez (Costa Rica)
19Manuel Oseas Rodas Ochoa (Guatemala)
20Ali Castillo (Venezuela)
21Ricardo Pscheidt (Brazil)
22Héctor Fernando Riveros Páez (Colombia)
23Javier Puschel (Chile)
24Santiago Padilla (Ecuador)
25Antonio Guzmán (Venezuela)
26Juan Carlos Hernandez (Mexico)
27Octavio Vicente Chetto (Mexico)
28Emmanuel Valencia G. (Mexico)
29Jesús Rojas (Venezuela)
30Dario Gasco (Argentina)
31Eudaldo Asencio Rosario (Puerto Rico)
32Kelvin Gonzalez Ramirez (Puerto Rico)
33Charlie Crueisi Quiñonez (El Salvador)
34Sedly Rivas (Mexico)
35Rene David Cazun M. (El Salvador)
36Maximiliano Franzoi (Argentina)
37Heiner Gautmier Morales (Guatemala)
38Antonio Venutollo (Guatemala)
39Charles Venutolo (Guatemala)
40Julio Alberto Herrera (Guatemala)
41Alberto Carlo Velazquez (Puerto Rico)
42José Gonzalez (Puerto Rico)
43Javier López (Puerto Rico)
44Francisco Buch (Guatemala)
45Carlos Pool (Guatemala)
46Augusto Castillo (Guatemala)
47Luis O. Nieto (Puerto Rico)
48William Vega Cordero (Puerto Rico)
49Johnny Javier Mairena Zelaya (Honduras)
50Christian J. Ortiz (Puerto Rico)
51Ronny Castillo (Guatemala)
52Rojer Vanegas (Nicaragua)
53Marco Arocha (Puerto Rico)

Under 23 men
#Rider Name (Country) Team
1Sherman Paiva (Brazil)
2Henrique Avancini (Brazil)
3Rob Squire (United States of America)
4Rodrigo Darnay (Argentina)
5Rafael Escarcega Salazar (Mexico)
6Holman Camilo Vanegas (Colombia)
7Stephen Ettinger (United States of America)
8Dennis Porras (Costa Rica)
9Russell Finsterwald (United States of America)
10Rodrigo Altamirano (Argentina)
11Misael Vega (Mexico)
12Cody Canning (Canada)
13Ricardo Hazbun (Chile)
14Francisco Gaitán (Guatemala)
15Mauricio Foronda Guzmán (Colombia)
16Xavier Ureña (Costa Rica)
17Washington Vargas (Ecuador)
18Juan Fallas (Costa Rica)
19Sebastian Roman (Chile)
20David Coveña (Ecuador)
21Jose Ilson Pereira JR. (Brazil)
22Josue Vazquez Plaza (Puerto Rico)
23Marlon Goel López Mejía (Honduras)
24Diyer Alexander Rincón Gómez (Colombia)
25Teodoro Santamaria (El Salvador)
26Zachary Hughes (Canada)
27Jose Pedro Martel (Guatemala)
28Jordan De Leon (Guatemala)
29Miguel Valle (Guatemala)
30Carlos Fuentes Peraza (El Salvador)
31Cesar Reyes (Guatemala)
32Jose Alejandro Ruiz (Guatemala)
33Jaime Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
34Mateo Muñoz (Ecuador)

 

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