Colin Cares (Kenda / Tomac / Hayes) and Russell Finsterwald (ProCycling / SRM) won their respective under 23 and junior men's races in the middle of a hot and sunny day on Friday afternoon. The Under 23 men started their four laps at high noon, and the junior men went off a mere 10 minutes later.
Under 23 men
Colin Cares was all smiles after winning the Under 23 National Cross Country Championships. "I'm psyched," he said with a big grin. "This is my first 'real' national championship - one that's not for collegiate or cyclo-cross racing."
The Under 23 men took off, flying en masse up the super steep part of the climb that kicked off each lap. Soon after the start, Cares and Rob Squire (US National Development Team) established themselves as the strong men of the race, initially as part of a group of about five and then on their own.
"I like altitude, so my strategy was to ride my own pace and never push too hard and pop. I wanted to keep the pressure on," said winner Cares.
While Cares led much of the race, Squires was never far behind and nearly always kept the leader in sight.
"Robbie was right there the whole race. It was stressful," said Cares. "I held my gap overall for much of the race, but I think Robbie was riding his dually a little faster on the descents, and I was maybe a little faster on the climbs."
Squire said he thought he'd lost Cares for good as he climbed on the final lap and no longer saw his carrot, but he did see him again on the final descent.
Cares felt the pressure. "I was trying to stay confident and optimistic. I looked around on one of the last switchbacks and saw he was right there," said Cares. "I crashed on the last lap downhill, which is not what you're supposed to do, but it was all right. I got a little too excited in the loose stuff and took a tumble." The winner stood with a rock, from that crash, stuck in his helmet vent as he spoke.
In fact, Squire nearly closed the gap and rolled across the finish line at the end of the downhill just behind Cares.
"I didn't want to push too hard and blow up trying to catch up to him, so I just decided to sit there and hope to reel him in a little bit," said Squire. "I managed to start to reel him, but I missed a pedal and made other little mistakes. It's a little disappointing, but I'm still happy with second." Squire, from Salt Lake City, Utah, is a first-year under 23, and the 19-year-old knows he will have other chances in the future to take the Under 23 championship, especially once some of the experience he gained racing in Europe this spring kicks in.
Steve Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports) rode a solid race, despite the intense, high-altitude sun, to earn third. "There were so many fast guys on the starting line, it was intimidating, but everything came together and my legs fired well. I was able to ride my own race."
Ettinger rode within a few seconds of Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing), then in third, and Nicholas Weighall (Rad Racing NW) in fifth for awhile, but Ettinger eventually passed Franklin for the bronze medal.
Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing) and Peter Stetina (Tokyo Joe's) rounded out the top five. Stetina, best know for his success on the road, worked his way up to fifth after double flatting.
In his final year as a junior, Russell Finsterwald rode to a national championship cross country win ahead of a talented field that included second place finisher Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes) and third placed Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW).
"This is my first national title," said a happy Finsterwald. "It's been a tough season. I went over to Europe and raced for a month and then just came back over here and am getting back used to racing here again."
Hailing from Colorado Springs, Finsterwald came up to Granby a few weekends earlier to check out the course. "I got it down well before the race," said Finsterwald.
Finsterwald and Trujillo spent the first lap of their race together. Finsterwald's strategy was to ride conservatively at the front. Then on the second lap, Finsterwald pulled away, but the race wasn't over.
"He caught me back about halfway up the climb, and I let him sit on a little while," said Finsterwald. "Then I attacked him toward the top and rode downhill in a very risky way. I almost crashed twice. I saw him close in a few times, and I just dug myself in deeper than I ever have. I was cramping, too."
Finsterwald was clearly motivated. "I needed to win this to be able to save up the money for worlds." He will head next to the Canadian World Cups starting next weekend.
Behind the two leaders, Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW) rode to third. "I surprised myself. I'm from sea level and this is my fourth race of the season. It was rough out there, and there was a lot of climbing. I'm beat, but it was a good race."
Emsky was in just his fourth race of the season after rehabbing an IT band injury that had been causing his knee to track improperly.
Jack Hinkens (Penn Cycle) and last year's junior national champion Seth Kemp (GT / Kenda) completed the podium.
|1||Colin Cares (Kenda / Tomac / Hayes)||1:43:39|
|2||Rob Squire (USA National Team)||0:00:51|
|3||Stephen Ettinger (Black Diamond Sports Therapy)||0:05:09|
|4||Macky Franklin (Transparent Racing)||0:06:52|
|5||Peter Stetina (Tokyo Joe's)||0:08:01|
|6||Nicholas Weighall (Rad Racing NW)||0:08:19|
|7||Aaron Snyder (SCOTT USA)||0:08:41|
|8||Travis Livermon (Champion System / Cannondale)||0:09:57|
|9||Kevin Kane (Cannondale Factory Racing)||0:10:45|
|10||Matthew Beaton (Tokyo Joes)||0:12:47|
|11||Ethan Gilmour (USA National Team)||0:13:11|
|12||Trevor Downing (Mafia Racing)||0:13:28|
|13||Joe Schneider (3D Racing)||0:13:36|
|14||Dylan Stucki (Mafia Racing)||0:14:26|
|16||Art Nelsen (Tokyo Joes / Vandessal)||0:15:20|
|17||Braden Kappius (Clif Bar)||0:15:41|
|18||Nate Byrom (Northstar / WTB)||0:15:58|
|19||Dallas Fowler (Titetown Flyers)||0:19:21|
|20||Michael Hosey (Soulcraft)||0:19:46|
|21||Amar Mannina (Rocky Mounts / Izze)||0:19:54|
|22||John Bennett (Whole Athlete)||0:20:00|
|23||Lars Ellefson (Maplelag / Giant)||0:21:57|
|24||Christopher Suter (Adrenaline / Titus)||0:22:09|
|26||Seamus Powell (Windham Mtn Outfitters)||0:25:08|
|27||Zachary Keller (Titus)||0:26:16|
|28||Matt Wiebe (Team Colorado Singletrack)|
|29||Matthew Connors (Fisher 29er Crew)||0:28:20|
|30||Peter O'Donnell (Flanders / MBRC)||0:30:34|
|31||Adam Parke (Orange Peel)||0:31:21|
|33||Alex Ryan (Champion System / Cannondale)||0:36:27|
|34||Tim Curry (CB Builders / Brick Oven)||0:43:01|
|35||Chase Orrick (Durango Devo/Tomac Bikes)||0:47:22|
|DNS||Colin Osborn (Team Bikeparts.com)|
|DNF||Graham Aldredge (GP VeloTek)|
|DNF||Mitchell Peterson (MonaVie-Cannondale.com)|
|1||Russell Finsterwald (ProCycling / SRM)||1:52:03|
|2||Skyler Trujillo (Niner Bikes)||0:02:12|
|3||Eric Emsky (Rad Racing NW / Hagens Berman LLC)||0:03:25|
|4||Jack Hinkens (Penn Cycle)||0:04:36|
|5||Seth Kemp (GT / Kenda Cycleyouth)||0:07:56|
|6||alex schoenfelder (Gas / Intrisic)||0:10:17|
|8||William Curtis (Whole Athlete)||0:11:48|
|9||Joseph Dombrowski (Haymarket Bicycles p/b Function Drinks)||0:13:40|
|10||Kerry Werner (Shirks Presented By Trek)||0:14:53|
|11||Gordon Cottle (Porcupine / Specialized Racin)||0:15:22|
|12||Bryce Gordon (Honey Stinger / Trek)||0:15:57|
|13||Lewis Gaffney (Team F.I.Taos)||0:16:33|
|14||David Block (Gear West Bike Shop)||0:17:39|
|16||Nick Newcomb (Whole Athlete)||0:20:15|
|17||Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles)||0:20:32|
|18||Riley Predum (Whole Athlete)||0:20:33|
|20||Kevin Fish (Austin Flyers)||0:22:05|
|21||Brae Patten (Tokyo Joes Junior)||0:23:19|
|24||Aristotle Peters (EXPO Racing / GF29)||0:26:18|
|25||zane enders (Autoliv)||0:28:35|
|27||Ben Malmborg (Tokyo Joes Junior)||0:29:11|
|28||Davis Bentley (Whole Athlete)||0:29:20|
|31||Joshua Elston (Autoliv Cycling Club)||0:35:21|
|32||Taylor Schmidt (Optimize Endurance Services / BikeSource)||0:36:05|
|33||Kody Adams (Cannondale)||0:36:06|
|DNS||Cody Cox (Pro Cycling)|
|DNS||Kallan Creager (Pivot Cycles)|
|DNS||Kyle Kraakevik (Fetish Cycles)|
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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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