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Just over a hundred racers lined up for the Men’s 50-54 race this morning in Bend. There were lots of notable riders at the start, including Tom Stevens, Bob Downs (owner of Planet Bike) and Jim Gentes who won the first USA Cyclocross Championship jersey back in 1975.
The conditions were still icy and sketchy, even though the snow stopped falling shortly before the start. The race started with a bang – and a crash – as several racers found themselves on the ground or with mechanicals from early contact. Brook Watts summed up the feelings of a lot of riders as he rolled through dead last, shaking his head after a crash at the start line.
The riders that escaped the early carnage were led by Bernie Shao, who took the holeshot ahead of Kevin Hines and Bob Downs. Bobby Laning and Hines quickly established a gap over the field with Gentes, helmet cam and all, trailing in third. Hines broke free by the second lap and started to ride away as Langin struggled with pedal issues in second. Gentes dropped back and a group of five formed to chase after the two leaders.
Coming into the final lap, Hines had moved out to over 30 seconds ahead of Langin, with both riders smoothly covering the course to keep the chasers at bay. Hines made the last lap the fastest to ensure he’d cross the line with hands in the air. Langin held on for second, but Bob Downs had some bad luck that took him out of the race. Rich Cramer came out of the chase group for third. John Wilson rode a consistent race to fourth, while Thomas Price rode through from the back of the pack to end in fifth.
Hines, a national mountain bike champion, adds another stars n’ stripes jersey to his collection. Known for his technical prowess, even Hines’ race was far from error free – more proof of tricky conditions.
“I went into the lead early, crashed about a ¼ way into the first lap and lost the lead there,” says Hines. “Then I got back on it, passed Langin, got the lead again… fell down again on the second lap and then again on the fourth lap. It was really icy and deceivingly tricky, but I just rode consistently.”
“The decisive moment may have been riding the long off-camber hill on the first lap [the chasers dismounted and ran]. I put about 20-25 seconds into Langin,” Hines continues. “I’m very comfortable on the technical sections like that.”
Webber Takes Men’s 40-44 in a Race of Legends
Legendary names were mixed into the the Men’s 40-44 race. Mountain bike legend Don Myrah, 2-time USPRO Road Champion Bart Bowen, centurion Brett Prenzlow and almost 200 others roared off the start line in Bend this morning. The snow had started again and this race started like some of the earlier ones with mechanicals at the start and a call for the medics to the starting grid.
Defending champ Roger Ashpholm took the holeshot and the race saw an early selection. Doug Reid, Scott McLaughlin and Don Myrah rode away from the break to become the rabbits for the hounds behind to chase. Roger Aspholm and Pete Webber were chasing to round out the top five.
McGloughlin would tire and drop from the group, but Webber continued to pressure Reid and Myrah. Aspholm held on while Bowen lingered not far behind as a threat to the leaders. Webber broke from the crowd of with three to go and was never seen again.
With two to go, Myrah attacked and Reid, who suffered a flurry of crashes, was not able to follow. McLaughlin was holding in fourth with Bowen trailing in fifth and Aspholm dropping out of the top five. Webber would hold on for the win with Myrah and Reid finishing second and third. Ward Baker was able to finish strong and outsprint McLoughlin for fourth.
“I had a real good start position, because I stayed up until 3 AM when registration opened,” said Webber in reference to the online registration fiasco that didn’t prevent him from securing a good spot on the line.
“The keys to the race were taking the corners real smooth, with no brakes, and babying the equipment,” related Webber.
The juniors may have had the smallest field of the day with less than 40 riders, but there was no shortage of excitement or potential when the young ‘uns took the course. Cody Kaiser took the holeshot but was marked by Chris Wallace, just back from Europe; Jeff Bahnson, already a two-time national champ; and Trujillo. Wallace looked to have some technical problems that took him off the pace.
The three leaders, Bahnson, Kaiser and Trujillo, raced through the first lap attacking and countering each other. Kaiser attacked with four laps to go and established a small gap over Bahnson and Trujillo, but the two riders were able to counter the moves.
The juniors saw the course begin to thaw in the relative warmth of the early afternoon and riders were becoming increasingly mud-covered throughout the race. The conditions seemed to work for Kaiser, as both Trujillo and Bahnson lost contact. Chris Wallace excelled in the tough race, fighting back from the early mechanical to move through the field into fourth with two to go.
“It’s a bike-handler’s course,” said Kaiser. “It was frozen yesterday and the day before, but now it’s getting pretty soupy. Other than the stairs and the barriers, it was easily rideable.”
Two laps to go saw Bahnson and Trujillo reconnect, with Bahnson attacking a struggling Trujilo to chase Kaiser alone. With a 40-second lead, however, Kaiser looked tough to beat if he could keep it upright. Kaiser was able to stay smooth and take home the jersey. Bahnson took second with Trujillo coming in for third. Wallace crossed the line in a well deserved fourth after fighting back through the field. Burton was able to take fifth from Fox in a finish line sprint.
See today’s Full Results Here.
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