On Day 4, our sport’s future stars and our sport’s founders raced on frozen, rutted Kansas tundra in the day’s early races. Singlespeeders, Collegiate, and the Masters 60+, 65+ and 70+ all tackled the course before the Elite Men and Women.
At 8am, with a starting temperature at 15 degrees, one of the sport’s fastest growing divisions, single speeders, took the start line. Some top endurance mountain bikers including Cameron Chambers and Marko Lalonde (Bob Brown Cycles) were vying forthe title, along with mountain bike legend Travis Brown (Trek).
Brown and Lalonde quickly opened up a sizable gap on the rest of the field, with Chambers leading a group of chasers including Clay Harris (Red Rocks Velo), Patrick Morrissey (NM Team Cross), Patrick Wilder (CyclePath), and Anthony Wilhem (Lincoln Bicycle).
Lalonde, along with his brother Jesse, competes and often wins major midwest bike races on singlspeeds, and finished fourth in this year’s Chequamegon 40 and second in Wisconsin’s Cyclocross Series (losing to his brother at both races). With Jesse not making the trip, his toughest competition was Brown, but kept increasing his gap until the end, finishing with a 28 second cushion by the end over a determined, frozen-mustached Brown.
The race for the final podium spots was tight, with Harris taking third ahead of Morissey and a fading Chambers. 104 riders registered, but with tough conditions, under 60 started and 52 finished.
If you want to see the future of women’s cycling, you need not look further than Kacey Manderfield and the Lees-Mcrae cycling team of North Carolina. Manderfield, who currently holds the national collegiate and U23 point race titles on the track, resumed crushing the other student-athletes as soon as the race begun. Keeping her speed through icy, off-camber turns and floating over deep, frozen ruts, Manderfield proved that her skills extend far beyond the smooth concrete of the velodrome.
Steph White of UNH and Amanda Miller of CSU, both studying in snowy areas did their best to stay within reach of Manderfield, but by the second lap she was out of site, gaining 30 seconds a lap. White held off Miller for second, with Devon Haskell (University of Chicago) and Sabina Kraushaar (Fort Lewis) rounding out the podium.
The time gaps were wide, as the ability levels varied greatly. The top ten alone were spread over a six and a half minute margin. With so many athletes riding their first year of ‘cross, the future of women’s cyclocross looks secure.
Jamey Driscoll of University of Vermont had a tough loss to Bjorn Selander in the U23 race on Saturday, losing in a sprint finish after leading the last half of the race. In his second race in two days, he appeared on track for a similarly frustrating race, overcoming a slow start, joining the front of the race, but then getting gapped by another rider. Joey Thompson of Fort Lewis College, took to the front of the race early, and was flying over the ice and snow, taking risks in the process and at times going down in corners. Driscoll seemed more tentative over the rough stuff and in the turns, but the conservative strategy proved to be the winning one, as Thompson later double-flatted and had to run to the pits to get a spare bike. Driscoll never looked back, and went on to win by 30 seconds. Joey Thompson dropped to fourth after switching bikes, but had a blistering last lap to catch back up to Aaron Bradford (Lees McRae) and then Bradley Kappius (Colorado School of Mines) who was sitting in second. Thompson ended up winning a three-way sprint for second, with Bradford finishing third and Kappius fading to fourth. Isaac Neff of the growing Indiana team finished in fifth, two minutes off the lead.