VERONA, WISCONSIN—Paul Curley (Gear Works – Spin Arts) held off Norm Kreiss (Cal Giant) to take yet another cyclocross national championship to add to his pile. With last year’s winner, Ned Overend not attending, Kreiss and Curley were sure to do battle for the podium, and Curley wasted no time in trying to control the race, gaining the holeshot and seizing the lead every chance he got through the race.
A strong 55-59 Men’s field that included last years runner-up Norm Kreiss (Cal-Giant) and cyclocross legend Paul Curley (Mid State Cycling Club-Gear Works) lined up for the last race at Badger Prairie Park today. Temperatures were a Wisconsin-balmy 50 degrees that saw some riders shed tights in favor of shorts and knee warmers. The warm temperatures created a technical course that favored the skilled tacticians.
Curley grabbed the hole shot off the line but it was Kreiss who would take the early lead and be first rider to enter the sand pit on lap one. Kreiss let up on the pace a bit which gave Curley a small breather and enabled Randall Root (Evolution Cycling Club), and Bobby Downs to join the duo. The quartet rode together until two laps to go when Randall Root fell in front of Kreiss. The bobble enabled Curley, who was riding at the front every chance he got, to get a gap which Kreiss could not close after clawing back to Bobby Downs.
“I was never afraid to take the lead. Anytime i could push to the front, no matter how bad I was hurting, I wanted to lead. I wanted to lead the uphills, I wanted to lead the downhills, I wanted to lead into the headwind!” said Curley about his race strategy, “The corners are too technical, you don’t really trust anyone. I didn’t trust anyone going around the corners in front of me.”
Kreiss chased hard for the remaining laps, bringing the gap down to five seconds at one point, but Curley kept his eyes on the ground watching for shadows. Encouraged by his gap and lack of activity behind him, Curley put on his famous game face and kept the hammer down for the remainder of the race.
With one lap to go, Curley extended his lead to 15-seconds and rode in solo for his 25th National Championship. Curley, who has raced around the globe, compared the course to his stints overseas: “So many things reminded me of racing in Switzerland. I spent four years racing there in the 80′s. We always raced at 3 o’clock, you never knew what the conditions were going to be, I was just playing it like that, thinking back to when I was doing it full time.”
Norm Kreiss, the 2010 runner up to to the legendary Ned Overend, mapped out his strategy for 2013. “Last year on the podium, Paul [Curley] said to Ned ‘You going to stay home and let somebody else win one of these?’ … So that’s what i said to Paul on the podium today.”
Stay tuned for photos, a full report, videos (and better captions).