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by Grant Berry
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY — The final men’s race of the 2012 Master’s World Cyclocross Championships was also the largest race of the final day of competition. The 55-59 year old field was deep with talent, including 1990 Mountain Bike World Champion Ned Overend (USA) who came into the race as the heavy favorite. Other notables included Henry Kramer (USA) and Norman Kreiss (USA) both of the Cal Giant Berry team, as well as Jim Gentes (USA) and Benny Andersson (SWE).
The sun continued to bear down on the formally frozen course, as the ruts softened to create a thin, slimy layer of muck.
Gentes would grab the holeshot, only to be immediately overhauled by Kreiss in the first straightway with Kramer close behind. Overend was off to a slow start, sitting 6th wheel entering the first chicane. He was almost taken down by a rider falling in front of him, but was able to keep it upright.
Kreiss wasted no time in establishing a gap, and by the time he hit the flyover for the first time he already had a 10 second gap over Kramer, followed a few seconds later by Overend.
Heading out for lap two, Kreiss had stretched his lead to 20 seconds, as Kramer and Overend were together. Behind them, Bob Downs (USA) trailed seven seconds later.
A lap later, Kramer and Overend had taken over for Kreiss at the front. Kreiss looked to have hit the ground at some point, and was covered in mud. Kramer and Overend would trade places several times on this lap, before Overend got to the front on one of the straight power sections and laid down an attack to establish a gap. At the same time, it appeared that Kramer had bike issues and was stuck in too easy a gear helping the gap to Overend grow quickly.
“Kramer and I traded the lead a couple times. He was gunning it out there; the first time I passed him he came back by my right away and surprised me. He was going for it out there,” said Overend.
With 1 to go, Overend had established a 25 second gap as Kramer and then Kreiss chased. Downs was close behind, and appeared to be saving some for the finale. Kramer had a slip up the last time through the wooded section, allowing Kreiss and Downs to close in on his wheel. It was going to be an all out battle for the final two spots on the podium.
“It was hard to put the power to the ground today; it was so slippery and traction was tough. You really had to learn the lines out there, but then it was tough to stay in ’em lap after lap,” explained Overend.
As Ned Overend came on to the pavement for the last time, he had plenty of time to celebrate another World Championship title. The crowd now looked down the finish straight to see who was going to fill out the rest of the podium.
Kreiss, Downs and Kramer all came on the pavement together, and it was a matter of grit, determination and who had saved some energy for the last effort to the line. Downs put up an impressive fight, but ended up getting overhauled by the two teammates as Kreiss would take the silver medal, followed by Kramer for bronze.
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Photos – Steve Anderson
2012 UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championships: Men 55-59 Results
1 OVEREND Edmund (Ned) Specialized USA 2 KREISS Norman Cal Giant Berry USA 3 KRAMER Henry Cal Giant Strawberry USA 4 DOWNS Robert Planet Bike USA 5 ANDERSSON Benny Trek Sweden Racing SWE 6 ROOT Randall Evolution Cycling Club P/B Long & Foster USA 44:42:00 7 GENTES Jim Giro USA 8 SMITH George Webcor/Alto Velo USA 9 SHIELDS Randy Carolina Masters USA 10 KINNEY Robin Pure Energy Pro Air Hfa USA 11 CRAFT Jeffrey Lake Effect Racing USA 12 SROKA Rudy Lake Effect Racing USA 13 JONES Glen Brazen Dropouts USA 14 DOUBLEDAY Barry Cycle Lodge USA 15 WHITE Arthur Team Campmor USA 16 CHANDLER Geoffrey Mission Berry Farms Cycling USA 17 CROWLEY Peter Ncc/Northampton Cycle Club USA 18 TOWNSEND Jeff Plus 3 Network USA 19 WILLCOX Robert Uc Cyclery/Jw Flooring USA 20 KANE Steven East End Cycling Team/Kreb Cycle USA 21 GOODWIN David Northampton Cycling Club USA 22 ROTH Joel Team Tati USA 23 BILOTTA Anthony (Tony) Van Dessel Factory Team USA 24 NOBLE Steve Infinity Bike Of Melbourne, Fl USA 25 BRECKENMAKER Kevin Era Cycling USA 26 VORDERMAN Steven Drt Racing USA 27 WOLOWIEC Mark Flying Rhino Cycling Club USA 28 DEMOTT Brad Gray Goat Sports USA 29 TRIPP Jeff Blue Steel Cyclery USA 30 REIMBOLD John Heckawee USA 31 BLACK Chris Morgan Stanley/Specialized USA 32 KING Joseph Brazen Dropouts USA 33 AMMON Andrew Carolina Masters Cycling USA 34 WHITE James I.C.E./Idaho Kidney Institute USA 35 WHITE Jerry Blue Steel Cyclery USA 36 MAUNEY Richard Toyota Forklifts - Ffcc Masters USA 37 WILSON Thomas USA .@1LAP 38 SWENSON Ron Unattached USA 39 HAMILTON Doug Biowheels/Reece-Campbell Racing USA 40 KERNAN Colin Cycle Lodge USA 41 CONRAD David Localcycling.Com USA 42 CANFIELD Chris Blue Sky Velo USA DNF RATCLIFF Bill Unattached USA