VERONA, WISCONSIN — When you’ve been racing for five years and you’re in the 13-14 race, odds are good that you’re serious about what you do. That’s certainly the case for three-time National Champion Gage Hecht (International Christian Cycling Club), who took the holeshot in what was arguably the fastest start of the day. The 13-14 year old juniors charged down the pavement en masse, and strung out almost as quickly as they hit the slick, greasy course. By the 180 degree turn, riders were strung out and the leaders, Hecht and Spencer Petrov (Lionhearts) as the two standouts on the front.
One lap in, Hecht had created a gap of 15 bike lengths between himself and Petrov, and their gap on the rest of the field had grown to 10 seconds. Behind them in third was Cameron Beard, and five seconds behind him saw Sean McElroy (Team Specialized Racing) and Michael Owens.
The crowds had grown since earlier in the morning, and the friends and families of the racers were out in force, cheering on their hometown favorites. The course has been getting slicker and muddier as the day has progressed, and riders were spending more time tripoding to stay upright in the sharp corners. The cloud coverage caused temperatures to drop slightly, and racers finished looking spent and chilly, though for Hecht, nothing could wipe the smile off of his face.
“I’m really happy with the race,” he told Cyclocross Magazine. “It went great and I did everything I felt like I needed to.”