VERONA, WISCONSIN—”Hello?” said Jonathan Page into his cell phone, as a crowd of photographers, security, fans and competitors swirled around him, cheering, clapping his back, searching for his hand. It was less then twenty seconds since he had crossed the finish line at the 2013 National Cyclocross Championships, and there was only one person who mattered. She was, unfortunately, stuck at the Newark airport.
“…I won. Yep. I won.” The laconic Page couldn’t help but let a rare smile cross his face as his wife responded to his first national title in eight years, and he turned to the cameras with his New England drawl. ”She’s pretty excited for me.”
For Page, A Validating Victory
Page may have exited this race in a swirl of reporters and fans, but he entered it – and this season – with a swirl of questions. Where would he race? Would he have a sponsor? Would he make the Worlds team? When Cyclocross Magazine interviewed him at Deer Valley this summer, he still was trying to figure out those answers, but said making the Worlds team would be a top priority, albeit challenging. And when we spoke to Page two weeks ago, it was a cautiously optimistic man who mused on his late-season success, though a man still hunting for sponsorship.
And with the toll of travel and a lackluster result in Chicago, Page was not the name on most people’s tongues as they wagged off the names they expected on the top step. Sure, he does well in Europe, but does the old pro still have it to take on America’s best on American soil? Today, all those questions were put to bed, at least temporarily, with a commanding, masterful win at Badger Prairie Park to take his fourth Elite National Championship. [See the Full Elite Men 2013 Cyclocross National Championship Results here or on page 3 of this report]
The Green Wave Kicks Things Off
Under frigid skies but with slightly softer conditions than for the women, the Elite men charged off the line. Heading into the first dirt, Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) and his U23 teammate Zach Mcdonald, along with Danny Summerhill (United Health Care) contested the holeshot, with Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b/ CyclocrossWorld) moving up quickly to hit the dirt alongside McDonald.
Ryan Trebon led Danny Summerhill and the rest of the field through the first dirt sections, but Summerhill soon took over. © Focal Flame Photography
As the race streaked around the soccer field, the green of Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld amassed near the front, creating a formidable pack of Driscoll, Trebon and Johnson. It looked like team tactics might yet again be an insurmountable hurdle for the Belgian-based Page to jump.
As with Duke and Miller, Summerhill had something to prove in his bid for a Worlds team slot and set about riding his own line, his own pace, pulling along the rest in his wake. By the first pits, it was Mcdonald, Trebon, Page (second, third and fourth last year) and a surprising Justin Lindine (Redline) chasing Summerhill. “I don’t know what happened in the start but it was like magic for me,” Lindine later explained. “I’m not known for my fast starts, so when I was like, ‘Holy crap, I’m in fifth,’ I didn’t know what to make of it.”
Trebon powered up the second major climb in pursuit of Summerhill, with Page overtaking him on the descent. By the time they hit the pavement, the racers formed a lead group of five, with Summerhill, Page, Trebon, McDonald and Lindine. Behind, Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld teammates Driscoll and Johnson closed the gap on the pavement to join Trebon and make it three teammates in the top eight. Noticeably missing from it all was defending champion Jeremy Powers, who languished in no-man’s land behind them.
Jonathan Page leading a surprisingly fast-starting Justin Lindine on lap 1 in the chase of Summerhill. © Meg McMahon
And Then There Was One
Page, having learned from years of being outnumbered, knew he didn’t want to make it a team tactics game and hit the front with a massive acceleration that utterly shattered the leading group. The early season sickness, the sponsor stress, the travel weariness – all faded away as Page began to steadily create a gap between himself and the field. “Yesterday was the first day I felt good since I got back,” he later admitted to Cyclocross Magazine. “And I was a little nervous with it turning cold, but the sun made it OK.”
Coming into the second pit of lap two, Page, with just a few seconds in hand, had a World Cup-worthy bike exchange and surged ahead, with Trebon losing spots with his own exchange behind him.
Jonathan Page made it clear he’s not ready to hang up the bike with his National win today © Meg McMahon
But Trebon would not be the story of the day, either, as Zach McDonald – proving that his decision to forgo the U23 race was the correct choice – rocketed past Trebon and set after the older racer and opening up a gap of his own. “I guess you could say it was lonely, but it was probably preferable,” said McDonald. “I’d prefer to do that to a group. That’s a course where you lose a lot of time fighting for lines because there’s only one line.”