VERONA, WISCONSIN – As conditions continued to turn increasingly Belgian, with thick, soppy mud throughout the foggy course, the Junior Men 15-16 shot off the line, with Spencer Petrov (Lionhearts) screaming into the holeshot and leading the first moves of the race. It was Gage Hecht (IC3 Colorado), however, who pulled to the front as Petrov’s energy waned and set about building up a lead that ballooned to over 40 seconds by the end of the race, securing another title for the talented racer.
“It felt great,” said Hecht. “I got second wheel into the first corner, from there I caught Spencer and then just worked my way around the course. I crashed right before the staircase on the first lap, and again on the third lap. I felt pretty good about the conditions, they were a ton of fun.“
Cooper Willsey (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) and Jordan Lewis (MSG Cyclocross) chased hard in pursuit, while behind them Petrov recovered and began picking his way up from the back half of the top ten. Between him and Willsey were Gavin Haley (Red Zone Cycling) and Cameron Beard (Bend Endurance Academy), who were locked in a tight battle for position for much of the race.
Petrov, despite a number of crashes, clawed his way back to the front chase as Willsey dropped Lewis, sliding through the turns around five seconds behind the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld rider, but not quite able to make contact. Then, Willsey slid out at the base of the final hill, giving Petrov just enough time to catch, and pass, Willsey and secure second place.
“That was a really hard race I had there,” said Petrov. “I went out too hard early. The last half of the first lap I had to rest. Those last two laps I was yanking people back. When I caught Cooper, what I was telling myself was smooth smooth smooth. I loved today.”