Elliott emerges the strongest among the Under 23s

An ecstatic Tad Elliott (Sho-Air / Specialized) crossed the line as the winner of the Under 23 cross country national championship on Friday afternoon. Elliott finished ahead of Rob Squire (Felt Holowesko Partners) and Russell Finsterwald (Subaru / Trek).

"It was so awesome to win here in Colorado," said Elliott, who lives in Durango, Colorado, and was racing on a new bike he'd gotten just days before. "I won two years ago in the Under 23 race at Mount Snow, but last year, I couldn't defend because I broke my shoulder one week before nationals."

Elliott was one of several strong men who battled right from the gun. Squire and Finsterwald were among those with the fastest starts, and Elliott admitted that he strugged at first.

"Rob and Russell were riding so strong at the start. I was absolutely pinned on their wheels. I was hurting. It was as hard as I could go," said Elliot, who added that his race went according to plan and he felt better as the race went on.

"It was Russell, Tad and I together for the first three laps," said Squire. "Going off the front, we were going well, and I felt good. I was trying to sit in and gauge how everyone is doing. Once we got five guys, we eased up a bit and maybe that was a mistake as it gave some guys time to recover."

With about two laps to go, Finsterwald was dropped by Squire and Elliott. "I went to pass Russell, and he kind of punched it. I think that might have been the popping point for him. He was going well," said Squire.

That left Elliott and Squire to duel, and it wasn't until the final lap that Elliott escaped his companion.

"I took the lead on the backside of that cloverleaf. We went through the feedzone on the descent, and I noticed I had a little bit of a gap. I put my head down and rode as hard as I could," said Elliott, who added that he was impressed by how both Finsterwald and Squire rode. "Those guys are both younger U23s and they are so strong, it'll be exciting to see how they do."

Squire noted that the course made for a tactical race rather than one decided by pure skills or climbing or descending ability. "This course was more tactical than I think a mountain bike race should be. It's because there is a lot of open space and the climbing isn't straight climbing. It's more like traversing." It also left the riders more exposed to the winds. "Pulling into the wind wore me out, but Tad rode a perfect race and was able to pull it off. Kudos to him," said Squire.

Despite coming off the leaders, Finsterwald held on for third place. "My goal going into the day was to win, but coming out with a top three for a first-year Under 23 was respectable. Those guys were riding strong today."

"I wasn't climbing quite as well as them, but I was going downhill well. Eventually they were able to outclimb me," said Finsterwald.

Mitchell Hoke (Tokyo Joes) and Matthew Beaton rounded out the top five.

Junior 17-18

Skyler Trujillo (Fort Collins) won the junior men's 17-18 race after a battle with Howard Grotts (Durango Devo), who finished second. Tony Smith (Whole Athlete) was third.

Trujillo, who was second last year in the junior 17-18 race, said he felt good from the start. "I felt like I was pushing a nice, easy pace for the first laps, and I kept up with Howard."

The Fort Collins resident was enjoying winning his first national title.

Unfortunately, for Howard, a second lap incident in which he had a run in with an Under 23 racer and crashed, cost him some valuable time.

"I gained at least 20 seconds on him," said Trujillo. "I waited for him and he almost caught me by the top, and then I got to the descent and I was like, 'I'm not waiting for him anymore.'"

Grotts took the crash in stride and recovered well enough to finish in a steady second place. "I got cut off on the second lap, but oh well. The traffic wasn't too bad - really only a problem on the second lap (of three)," said Grotts. "I felt good for the first two laps and just held it for the third one. It was a pretty good race overall."

William Curtis (Whole Athlete) and Christopher Bennett finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Junior 15-18

Keegan Swenson (Cole Sport) won the junior men's 15-16 three-lap race in 1:20:59. He defeated Noah Talley (Racer's Cycle) and Gino Pastore (Durango Devo).

The 16-year-old Swenson, from Park City, Utah, crossed the line still looking strong as he celebrated his first national title. "My race was awesome," he said smiling.

"I was with a few guys until the road on the first lap, and then I just kind of rode away," he said.

He rode the rest of the race on his own off the front. En route to his win he caught many of the older juniors, but said congestion was not a problem.

"Everyone was really nice about letting me pass by."

Cypress Gorry (Four Unity/Titus) was fourth and Bryan Duke (VOS Racing) was fifth.

Full Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Under 23 Men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tad Elliott (Sho-Air / Specialized)1:59:04
2Rob Squire (Felt Holowesko Partners)0:00:42
3Russell Finsterwald (Subaru/Trek)0:03:39
5Matthew Beaton0:06:23
6Kevin Kane0:06:36
7Jack Hinkens (Trek Co-op)0:08:40
8Stephen Ettinger (US National Team)0:10:05
9John Bennett (Whole Athlete)0:10:35
10Travis Livermon (Cannondale)0:10:52
11Bradford Perley (Mafia Racing)0:11:06
12Ethan Gilmour0:11:39
13Eric Emsky (Blue Competition Cycles)0:12:14
14Joe Schneider (3D Racing)0:12:43
15Bryan Dillon (Alpine Orthopaedics)0:13:12
16Seamus Powell0:15:41
17Gregory Carpenter (3D racing)0:16:50
18Zachary Keller (Form Cycles)0:17:30
19Colin Osborn (Honey Stinger/Trek)0:18:59
20Amar Mannina0:19:19
21Kerry Werner (Christiana Cycling/Shirk's Racing Presented by Trek Bikes)0:20:36
22Will Patterson (Whole Athlete)0:20:55
23Scott Hoffner0:22:40
24Cory Rimmer0:23:45
25Tristan Uhl (Southern Elite)0:25:15
26Chris Peterson0:25:58
27Colton Andersen0:32:45
28Dylan Stucki (Mafia Racing)0:33:16
29Brae Patten (Tokyo Joes)0:34:31
30Ben Koenig (RMC / Massden / Light@ Motion)0:37:27
31Nate Byrom (Northstar / Giant)0:39:11
32Richard Schoenfelder (Gallatin Valley Bicycle Club/Gallatin Alpine Sports/Intrinsik Archite)0:40:50
33Adam LaRochelle0:49:08
34Wesley Lamberson (Cycleyouth U23 Pro Team)1:00:56
DNFMenso de Jong (Metromint Cycling)Row 33 - Cell 2
DNFLars EllefsonRow 34 - Cell 2
DNFBryce Gordon (Honey Stinger/Trek)Row 35 - Cell 2
DNFAndy Hagemann (Mafia Racing)Row 36 - Cell 2
DNFChris HurstRow 37 - Cell 2
DNFPeter OstroskiRow 38 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Ryan (Champion System/ Cannondale)Row 39 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Sampson (Cannondale)Row 40 - Cell 2
DNFMatt WiebeRow 41 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Junior men 17-18
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Skyler Trujillo1:18:38
2Howard Grotts (Durango Devo)0:01:02
3Tony Smith (Whole Athlete)0:01:50
4William Curtis (Whole Athlete)0:03:20
5Christopher Bennett0:04:00
6Nicholas Newcomb (Whole Athlete)0:04:40
7Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)0:05:16
8Danny Van Wagoner (KUHL)0:05:37
9Cody Kaiser (California Giant Cycling/California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)0:07:07
10Gordon Cottle (KUHL)0:07:31
11Alex Stevenson (Whole Athlete)0:08:42
12Max Houtzager (Whole Athlete)0:09:11
13Seth Kemp0:09:33
14Michael Vigers0:09:39
15Riley Predum (Whole Athlete)0:09:48
16Daniel Conley (For Unity/Titus)0:10:20
17Joseph Moffitt (Mad Dog Cycles Race Team)0:11:19
18Ryan Standish (Merida Flight Centre)0:13:32
19Brady Kiss0:13:56
20Conner Smith (Autoliv Cycling Club)0:14:14
21Greg Krieger (Team Extreme)0:14:34
22Mason Bond0:14:51
23Jake Richards0:15:40
24Colby Pastore (Whole Athlete)0:15:48
25Kyle Warras (EXPO Racing)0:15:57
26Chris Johnson (Team Velosport Club/Sho-air/Sonance)0:17:40
27Jeremiah Dyer (Champion System Cannondale)0:18:52
28Roman Brockley (Whole Athlete)0:19:51
29Joseph Yoham (Whole Athlete)0:20:22
30Elliott Saslow0:22:12
31T. Quade Jander0:22:13
32Zane Enders (Autoliv Cycling Club)0:22:25
33Ryan Packard (QuadCycles)0:22:44
34Travis Glysson (FCA Endurance/Team FCA Endurance)0:26:24
35Zane Jeffers (Bell & Company Mountain Biking)0:26:31
36Charles Wild (Mother)0:37:12
37Michael Dutczak (South Chicago Wheelmen)0:41:35
DNFTaylor Schmidt (Optimize Endurance Services/Optimize Endurance Services/BikeSource)Row 37 - Cell 2
DNFZachary Valdez (Whole Athlete)Row 38 - Cell 2
DNFDrake Uriguen (Livetrainrace.com)Row 39 - Cell 2
DNFBen Malmborg (Tokyo Joes)Row 40 - Cell 2
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Junior men 15-16
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Keegan Swenson (Cole Sport/cole sport)1:20:59
2Noah Talley (Racer's Cycle)0:02:31
3Gino Pastore (Durango DEVO)0:03:38
4Cypress Gorry (Four Unity/Titus)0:05:57
5Bryan Duke (VOS Racing)0:06:57
6Taylor Smith (Whole Athlete)0:07:08
7Sepp Kuss0:07:11
8Zane Godby0:08:43
9Chase Dickens (American Classic/Kenda/Tomac)0:09:21
10Spence Peterson0:12:07
11Larsson Johnson (Autoliv Cycling Club)0:13:56
12Matthew Phillips0:14:45
13Casey Williams0:15:32
14Jansen Lindner (Cycle Youth / C-Town)0:16:05
15Colin Roberson0:17:12
16Brandon Dillard (Owens Healthcare)0:18:00
17Tyler Coplea (Oakley/Form Cycles)0:19:51
18Lucas Newcomb (NorCal High School Mountain Bike League)0:22:24
19Luke Allen0:23:42
20Jack Keane (Above Category Racing)0:29:55
21Kellan Humphries0:30:24
22Quint Berkemeier0:33:59
23Atticus Proctor (Montana Velo)0:42:05
24Christian Shanley (VMBC)Row 23 - Cell 2
DNFSkyler Taylor (Above Category Racing)Row 24 - Cell 2
DNFRyan Geiger (Schwalbe / Energy by Science)Row 25 - 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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