Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) won the elite men’s title at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships held at Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, Washington, on Sunday. In what was his first elite national title, the 22-year-old beat Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld teammates Curtis White and Stephen Hyde.
"It’s amazing. I’ve been doing this since I was 10 or 12 years old, so this is amazing, really exciting," Hecht said in a post-race interview.
"The gap was growing [on the last lap]. Curtis was closing it down but I knew going over the top through the orchard was the end of the race, there was nowhere to make up time after that. It was about laying it all out full-gas there and then making it down safe [to the finish]."
How it unfolded
After days of rain, the sun came out on Sunday before the elite men's race at the Steilacoom Park in Lakewood.
Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) charged off the start line to the front and led the race on to the grass for the first time. His teammate defending champion Stephen Hyde didn’t have the best luck and got boxed out back in the group.
A crash took down several riders in the first few hundred metres of the race but it didn’t seem to affect the favourites.
At the start of the second lap, the splits had already started with Kerry Werner (Kona-Maxxis-Shimano) and Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) crossing the finish line with a small lead. Just a few seconds back were teammates Hyde and White but partway through the second lap, the gap increased to 15 seconds.
The two sets of lead groups were then followed by a series of riders that included Lance Haidet (Donnely-Aevolo), Logan Owen (EF Education First) and Andrew Dillman (SDG-Muscle Monster).
Chaos ensued for the leaders when Hecht bombed down a tricky descent, slid out and split through the course tape. Hecht managed not to crash but Werner, who was on his wheel, lost control after he hit the brakes and crashed into the crowds at the bottom of the hill.
"That lap, I was really just trying to hold onto things," Hecht said. "I blew through that tape because there were some leaves covering the rut and that freaked me out a little bit. Then I shot into the spectators. And to see Kerry flip over his bike on the right side of me, that messed with my head for a lap."
Hecht continued pushing at the front of the race but Werner was stuck trying to gain control of his race before fading into fourth place as Hyde and White caught and passed him before the start of the third lap.
Hyde and White started reeling Hecht back, and the Cannondale riders appeared to be getting back on terms with the 21-year-old, but the Donnelly-Aevolo rider continued to hold them off and opened his gap again.
Hecht made it down the descent on the third lap without difficulty, but he was still closely followed by Hyde and White with all three riders spaced apart by just a couple of seconds.
Werner crossed through the finishing straight 10 seconds later with Haidet.
Hecht managed to hold onto his gap, which yo-yoed between five and ten seconds, ahead of chasing teammates Hyde and White. But with three laps to go, White left Hyde behind to try and close the gap to Hecht.
Although White put in a big effort to catch Hecht, it wasn’t enough and he faded back into the fold with Hyde.
On the final lap, Hecht raced through the finish line in a time trial position across the pavement and then back onto the grass with a 15-second advantage. Hyde’s face grimaced with a look of determination to catch the leader.
White and Hyde kept changing position but neither of their efforts put a dent into Hecht as he continued to build his lead to 20 seconds.
Hecht took his first elite men's victory at the national championships.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Gage Hecht (Donnelly Aevolo)||1:00:32|
|2||Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld)||0:00:17|
|3||Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld)||0:00:23|
|4||Kerry Werner Jr (Kona Maxxis Shimano)||0:01:27|
|5||Lance Haidet (Donnelly Aevolo)||0:01:40|
|6||Andrew Dillman (SDG - Muscle Monster)||0:01:49|
|7||Logan Owen (EF Education First)||0:02:03|
|8||Grant Ellwood (Pivot Maxxis pb Stans NoTubes)||0:02:09|
|9||James Driscoll (Mavic / DNA Cycling)||0:02:20|
|10||Maxx Chance (Blue Stages Racing)||0:02:33|
|11||Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins / Specialized)||0:02:42|
|12||Travis Livermon (Unattached)||0:02:45|
|13||Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle Co - Groove Suba)||0:03:34|
|14||Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racin)||0:04:01|
|15||Cody Cupp (Unattached)||0:04:14|
|16||Nicholas Lando (Competitive Edge Racing)||0:04:36|
|17||Kevin Bradford-parish (SETcoaching p/b KBPracing)||0:04:39|
|18||Henry Nadell (CZ Racing)||0:05:12|
|19||Stephan Davoust (Giant Factory off road)||0:05:33|
|20||Andrew Giniat (The Pony Shop p/b KPMG)||0:05:38|
|21||Rory Jack (The Pony Shop p/b KPMG)||0:05:41|
|22||Sean Babcock (Team S&M CX Sellwood Cycle Repa)||0:05:44|
|23||Eric Thompson (MSPEEDWAX COM)||0:05:48|
|24||Ben Frederick (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)||0:05:54|
|25||Carl Decker (Giant Factory off road)||0:06:23|
|26||Tyler Cloutier (TCCX)||0:06:40|
|27||Allan Schroeder (High Desert Hustle)||0:06:52|
|28||Andrew Borden (Castleton University)||0:06:58|
|29||Alex Ryan (Pactimo/Mock Orange CX Team)||0:07:13|
|30||Jonathan Anderson (J Moneys Elite Factory Professi)||0:07:28|
|31||Kaler Marshall (Walla Walla Roastery p/b Jakroo)||0:07:36|
|32||Josh Direen (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)|
|33||Joseph Schmalz (TradeWind Energy Cycling Team)||0:07:55|
|@1Lap||Nathan Barton (Rock Lobster)|
|@1Lap||Terol Pursell (Unattached)|
|@1Lap||Andrew Nicholas (BCA Linen)|
|@1Lap||Jacob Leblanc (Competitive Edge Racing)|
|@2Lap||Robert Cummings (Team S&M CX Sellwood Cycle Repa)|
|@2Lap||Molly Cameron (Point S Auto p/b Nokian Tyres)|
|@2Lap||Josh Bauer (Jiayoulife)|
|@2Lap||Sawyer Bosch (High Desert Hustle)|
|@2Lap||Bjorn Selander (MNJRC)|
|@2Lap||Andrew Loaiza (Mettle Cycling p/b Leave It On)|
|@2Lap||Colin Dunlap (Team Oregon p/b Rodda Paint)|
|@2Lap||Stephen Hartzel (Breadwinner Cycles)|
|@2Lap||Jacob Peterson (Reynolds Roofing Racing)|
|@3Lap||Andrew Frank (Montana Velo)|
|@3Lap||Kyle Johnson (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)|
|@3Lap||Robert Marion (CarpeDiem Racing)|
|@3Lap||Christian Culpepper (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)|
|@4Lap||Frederick Junge (Base Media Racing)|
|@6Lap||Dean Poshard (Unattached)|
|DNS||Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart Inc)|
|DNS||Dylan Postier (Easton-Giant p/b Transitions Li)|
|DNS||Jordan Sirtoli (Trek of New Hartford/ ESI Grips)|
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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