VERONA, WISCONSIN — The D2 Collegiate men were the first of the racers to take to the freshly frozen course in Verona this morning at the 2013 Cyclocross National Championships, with temperatures plummeting down to the low teens. Some racers elected to race in balaclavas, while a few brave (or foolhardy) students opted for shorts and long sleeved jerseys. But it was Robert Rimmer from Virginia Intermont College in tights and a long sleeve jersey who soloed to a solid victory on the icy tundra.
Keeping the rubber side down has never been more important than a day like today, where the frozen mud is rougher than a spill on the pavement, and iced over ruts jostled riders across the course. Casey Hildebrandt (Ripon College) took an early lead, with Rimmer and Douglas Ansel (University of Notre Dame) right on his tail. Andrew Lysaght (MIT), Timothy Jenkinson (Mars Hill), Patric Rostel (Colorado Mesa University), Caleb Welborn (Brevard) and Wesley Lamberson (Union) all followed in a group.
The 10 minute lap time was one of the fastest we’ve seen this week, and conditions are ripe for a fast and furious battle later today in the elite race. At one lap in, Rimmer had worked his was up to Hildebrandt and was working with him to keep Ansel and Jenkinson at bay. Behind those four, a large gap opened to the rest of the field.
A shift of power a half lap later saw Rimmer alone at the front and Hildebrandt and Jenkinson working together behind him, with Ansel following. A group led by Lamberson was behind.
Halfway through the race, Rimmer still had the top spot, and Ansel had moved into second with Jenkinson and Hildebrandt chasing, and a huge gap to the rest of the field. With one to go, it was clear something happened to the Notre Dame rider as Rimmer took a dominant lead with Jenkinson and Hildrebrandt behind, and Ansel back with Lamberson. Michael Michetti (U Wisconsin- Platteville) was also in contention for a top spot.
Rimmer sailed in with a comfortable lead to take the win, running to hug his father immediately after. Jenkinson rolled in for second, and Hildebrandt took third.