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Gage Hecht wins elite men's stars-and-stripes jersey at the US cyclo-cross championships

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Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) wins the elite men's title at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships at Steilacoom Park, Washington

Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) wins the elite men's title at the USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships at Steilacoom Park, Washington (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) en route to the elite men's title at the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships

Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) en route to the elite men's title at the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht (Donnelly Aevolo) tops Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld pair Curtis White and Stephen Hyde to win the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships

Gage Hecht (Donnelly Aevolo) tops Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld pair Curtis White and Stephen Hyde to win the 2019 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross Championships (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Defending champion Stephen Hyde

Defending champion Stephen Hyde (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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The elite men's field

The elite men's field (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht's winning Donnely c//c

Gage Hecht's winning Donnely c//c (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht in the lead

Gage Hecht in the lead (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht on the run up

Gage Hecht on the run up (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht takes the title

Gage Hecht takes the title (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Curtis White

Curtis White (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Curtis White

Curtis White (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) after winning the US 'cross title

Gage Hecht (Donnely-Aevolo) after winning the US 'cross title (Image credit: Wil Matthews)
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Logan Owen (EF Education First)

Logan Owen (EF Education First) (Image credit: Wil Matthews)

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.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gage Hecht (Donnelly Aevolo) 1:00:32
2Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) 0:00:17
3Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) 0:00:23
4Kerry Werner Jr (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 0:01:27
5Lance Haidet (Donnelly Aevolo) 0:01:40
6Andrew Dillman (SDG - Muscle Monster) 0:01:49
7Logan Owen (EF Education First) 0:02:03
8Grant Ellwood (Pivot Maxxis pb Stans NoTubes) 0:02:09
9James Driscoll (Mavic / DNA Cycling) 0:02:20
10Maxx Chance (Blue Stages Racing) 0:02:33
11Cody Kaiser (LangeTwins / Specialized) 0:02:42
12Travis Livermon (Unattached) 0:02:45
13Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle Co - Groove Suba) 0:03:34
14Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racin) 0:04:01
15Cody Cupp (Unattached) 0:04:14
16Nicholas Lando (Competitive Edge Racing) 0:04:36
17Kevin Bradford-parish (SETcoaching p/b KBPracing) 0:04:39
18Henry Nadell (CZ Racing) 0:05:12
19Stephan Davoust (Giant Factory off road) 0:05:33
20Andrew Giniat (The Pony Shop p/b KPMG) 0:05:38
21Rory Jack (The Pony Shop p/b KPMG) 0:05:41
22Sean Babcock (Team S&M CX Sellwood Cycle Repa) 0:05:44
23Eric Thompson (MSPEEDWAX COM) 0:05:48
24Ben Frederick (ORNOT x Santa Cruz) 0:05:54
25Carl Decker (Giant Factory off road) 0:06:23
26Tyler Cloutier (TCCX) 0:06:40
27Allan Schroeder (High Desert Hustle) 0:06:52
28Andrew Borden (Castleton University) 0:06:58
29Alex Ryan (Pactimo/Mock Orange CX Team) 0:07:13
30Jonathan Anderson (J Moneys Elite Factory Professi) 0:07:28
31Kaler Marshall (Walla Walla Roastery p/b Jakroo) 0:07:36
32Josh Direen (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)
33Joseph Schmalz (TradeWind Energy Cycling Team) 0:07:55
@1LapNathan Barton (Rock Lobster)
@1LapTerol Pursell (Unattached)
@1LapAndrew Nicholas (BCA Linen)
@1LapJacob Leblanc (Competitive Edge Racing)
@2LapRobert Cummings (Team S&M CX Sellwood Cycle Repa)
@2LapMolly Cameron (Point S Auto p/b Nokian Tyres)
@2LapJosh Bauer (Jiayoulife)
@2LapSawyer Bosch (High Desert Hustle)
@2LapBjorn Selander (MNJRC)
@2LapAndrew Loaiza (Mettle Cycling p/b Leave It On)
@2LapColin Dunlap (Team Oregon p/b Rodda Paint)
@2LapStephen Hartzel (Breadwinner Cycles)
@2LapJacob Peterson (Reynolds Roofing Racing)
@3LapAndrew Frank (Montana Velo)
@3LapKyle Johnson (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)
@3LapRobert Marion (CarpeDiem Racing)
@3LapChristian Culpepper (ORNOT x Santa Cruz)
@4LapFrederick Junge (Base Media Racing)
@6LapDean Poshard (Unattached)
DNSAdam Myerson (Cycle-Smart Inc)
DNSDylan Postier (Easton-Giant p/b Transitions Li)
DNSJordan Sirtoli (Trek of New Hartford/ ESI Grips)

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