Summerhill and McDonald shake hands before going one to go (becoming a McDonald tradition) © Tim Westmore

Summerhill and McDonald shake hands before going one to go (becoming a McDonald tradition) © Tim Westmore

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In a dramatic and intense competition, Daniel Summerhill came in ahead of Zach McDonald after a fierce battle that had the racers matched for most of the race. Both racers were strong favorites for the win, but in a tension filled first lap, before the first pit, Summerhill went down. “I thought it was over,” Summerhill said. “A guy cut across heading for the pit and went into me, I might have broken the front wheel, I’m not even sure. I went straight into the pits, but I was thinking, ‘good job for Zach, because he just won it for sure.’ I was watching him, he must have had 30 seconds. I could tell that he was playing with me – he had enough of a lead that he could just watch me suffer and try to cut corners wherever I could. Zach had a great ride, he was killing me in every technical section and he really did a great job out there.”

“On that first couple of turns I didn’t even attack,” said McDonald. “I was just kinda off the front and started riding away. I think everybody sorta looked at each other. I think Danny was bummed because he was boxed in, and he had to spend some serious energy to get back up.”

Summerhill and McDonald took turns in the lead. © Janet Hill

Summerhill and McDonald took turns in the lead. © Janet Hill

Zach continued to storm off the front, but on lap two ran into some trouble of his own. “On the second lap, when Danny brought that gap down from 15 seconds to nothing, I had crashed into this guy and his wife that just walked straight into the course. Worst job of course marshalling I’ve ever seen. I mean, what happens, happens. It’s not as bad as last year because I didn’t break anything, but it’s a bummer to lose a gap when it’s not your fault. But Danny was riding strong, so I don’t want to take anything away from him.”

Summerhill stormed through the pack and eventually caught up to the visibly frustrated McDonald. From there, it was a head-to-head battle nearly to the end, with both riders taking advantage of their skills to trade the lead. “I’d stay on the front in all the straightaways, and he’d duck around me [and lead] through all the technical sections, really making me nervous.”

“He’s got more technical ability than I’ve ever seen,” Summerhill said of McDonald. “So he was making me nervous. On top of staying here and being stressed out for the week, my legs weren’t feeling that great, and every time he’s make me bobble, I’d really have to put the hammer down. It was a physical race for sure, we were battling the whole time.”

McDonald was upset with his luck but was a gracious sport. © Janet Hill

McDonald was upset with his luck but was a gracious sport. © Janet Hill

“I was only better in the straightaways, Zach was killing me on everything technical. He’s so much lighter than I am, so he can just float over the mud. He was making me nervous on a lot off those sections for sure.”

““Not nearly technical as last year,” said McDonald. “It’s not really that slippery out there. Under the mud it’s really solid, so it made for some power sections that were hard to hold on during.”

“There are so many deep holes from all of the racers going through here,” said Summerhill. “It’s all wet on top, so you can’t tell if you’re going to go into a hole. In the first couple of laps when I was chasing to get back to Zach, I was clocking every hole – it was a hectic couple of first laps for sure.”

With about two to go, tension between the two racers was high, and some shoulder rubbing turned into a bit of shouting. “Along the back stretch, we were battling through the U-turn hairpin section. There were some physical ‘hockey games’ going on through there,” said Summerhill. “Zach’s a classy guy. I had a bobble earlier on and we had a couple of words, but we shook hands about it.”

Indeed, the two took a moment on the finishing straight with one to go and shook hands in a very public display of camaraderie, evoking a similar gesture by McDonald in Kansas of ’08, when he shook hands with Luke Keough. On that day, however, McDonald took the win. It was not to be today.

“We were just kinda watching each other,” said McDonald, “Waiting for the each other to make a mistake, unfortunately I made mine and couldn’t close it, and I wasn’t going to catch him so I just let him go. No one wants to be rushed on the start straight when you’re winning a race, so I let him go so he could do his own thing.”

“The crowds for just a U23 race were unreal,” said Summerhill. “We loved it.”

Summerhill hurt his shoulder in October, and had doubts about his ability to perform in today’s race. “I wake up every morning and see how it feels,” he said. “The last couple of weeks have been OK, but when I first got back from the hospital I thought it’d be a nightmare trying to recover from this one. I did my fair share of rehab and everything else. The people at the hospital thought it’d be a couple of months [of recovery]. I wasn’t thinking I’d come back from the injury to win, but I was definitely planning on coming back to at least ride here. It’s nice to win for sure. I get to leave the U23 ranks with a jersey.”

And Worlds? “It should be a good team that we’ll have, with Zach and Jerome, and hopefully the Cal Giant boys, so it should be fun. I really like a lot of the guys I’m racing with this season, there all nice and fun to race with, just a good bunch of guys. So regardless of how we do at Worlds, it should be a good time.”

Photo Gallery:

Full Results:

Place Points NameCity, StateTimeBibTeam
1150Daniel SummerhillCentennial, CO1Garmin-Transitions/Team Holowesko Partners
2135Zach McDonaldBainbridge Island, WA22
3120Jerome TownsendPrinceton, MA38
4105Eric ThompsonBanner Elk, NC10Maplelag/Paramount Sports
590Chris HurstLake Geneva, WI23Unattached
685Cody KaiserEl Dorado Hills, CA18California Giant Strawberries/Specialize
780Jeremy FergusonRocklin, CA7California Giant Cycling
875Bradford PerleyBanner Elk, NC9Mafia Racing
970Eric EmskyFall City, WA36Blue Competition Cycles
1065Steve FisherBellingham, WA37Rad Racing NW / Hagens Berman LLP
1160Joseph SchmalzLawrence, KS33Mercy Cycling Team
1255Emmanuel GoguenHopedale, MA26Team CF-Mass
1350Patrick BradleyRichwood, NJ29Rutgers University | Raleigh | Kim’s Bik
1445Clayton OmerLouisville, KY4Better Cycling of Louisville
1540Will RossAnchorage, AK11
1638Nicholas KeoughSandwich, MA30UCI CT: KENDA Pro Cycling presented by GEARGRINDER
1736Weston LuzadderCarmel, IN16Indianapolis Cycling Club/NUVO Cultural Trail
1834Zachary KellerGilbert, AZ8Form Cycles
1932Andrew TempletonAlbuquerque, NM20Team Cross (TCNM)
2030Kevin FishAustin, TX35Bicycle Sport Shop
2128Andrew BennettEugene, OR19Team Specialized Racing
2226Connor McCutcheonBigbearlake, CA31
2324Adam MillerColorado Springs, CO14
2422Trevor PrattAshland, OR34
2520Adam LooneyLaramie, WY3University of Wyoming
260Zeb KingRutherfordton, NC15
2718Joshua LehmannWeare, NH25Sunapee Racing Team
28ExpStefan SweckerMaryville, TN6TriStar Cycling Team
2916James McCabeBridgewater, NJ13Colavita Racing Inc./Colavita Racing
3015Matthew BatheNew Brunswick, NJ12Rutgers University-New Brunswick/Piscataway
3114Benjamin MonaghanMeridian, ID28BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Dev Squad)
3213Alexander Vaughan-RuizLosangeles, CA21Major Motion Cycling Club
DQ0Morgan RyanVentura, CA24Major Motion Cycling Club
DNF0Jack MahlerBend, OR32
DNF0Jesse KeoughSandwich, MA27Keough Cyclocross
DNF0Luke KeoughSandwich,
DNF0Kendal JohnsonBend, OR17