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Nats Day 3: Colorado Domination as Summerhill, Baker and Berry Take Titles – Updated: Photo Gallery
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Summerhill Starts Colorado Afternoon Sweep
Like the Juniors earlier in the day, the 47 men that lined up for the U23 race were fighting for more than the jersey since the race also serves as the final qualifier for the US Worlds Team. The conditions continued to get muddier throughout the day as the course was almost unrecognizable as the same site as the previous day’s icy circuit.
Luke Keough (Champion Systems), 2007 Jr. National Champ, took the holeshot, but Danny Summerhill (Felt-Holowesko Partners-Garmin) was glued to his wheel. The two accomplished young riders worked together to establish a break from the field and were quickly off the front.
“My legs weren’t too open the first couple laps and Keough, when Keough got the holeshot, he really got the holeshot,” related Summerhill.
Chance Noble (Cal Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) dug deep to bridge, moving up quickly to stay with Summerhill and Keough. Race favorite and 2008 Junior National Champ Zach McDonald (Classic Cycles) had an unfortunate mechanical early in the race that resulted in a ruined wheel and, after running most of the first lap, was never a factor.
Jerome Townsend (Bikereg.com), Alex Howes and David Hackworthy (Team Plan C) formed the chase group trying to run down the three leaders. Noble and Summerhill would take turns at the front with Keough as each of the three faced different challenges. Keough would take a fall and fade back, a little shaken up. Summerhill and Noble raced on as Hackworthy moved up and Howes continued to chase.
“”I attacked the icy off-camber section after the stairs to get the break,” said Summerhill. As he came into the barriers he had stretched out the gap over Noble to 20 seconds with three laps to go. That proved to be the deciding attack as Summerhill coasted in for the win with Noble in second. Keough would hold on for third, with Hackworthy and Jeremy Ferguson rounding out the top five. Howes, who at one point was sitting in third, reported a series of crashes late in the race that knocked him down to seventh.
Jon Baker Wins Men’s 35-39
With 185 riders, the Men’s 35-39 field was especially deep this year with 2-time national champ Brandon Dwight (Boulder Cycle Sport), USGP Series Winner Ali Goulet (Church of the Big Ring – Look) on his Pinarello cyclocross bike we just featured, Matt Kraus (Richard Sachs – RGM Watches – Radix) and a bevy of regional and national hot shots all taking a shot at the title. Kevin Hulick (The Vanilla Workhop – Speedvagen Racing) took the holeshot, but Goulet pulled out to an early lead with Dwight close behind. Carnage at the end of the first lap would test the running legs and mental toughness of many of the riders behind.
Goulet continued to do his best to ride away with the jersey, but Dwight and Justin Robinson (Cal Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) were having none of it. Behind the two chasers a pack was forming that included Jonathan Baker (Hudz – Subaru), Eirik Schulz (Specialized-River City Bicycles) and a few other racers. Goulet would continue to pour on the speed, with Robinson continuing the chase. Dwight was dropped from the chase and faded as Baker stepped up and made contact with the leaders.
Coming through the pits Dwight charged back and took the lead with Goulet and Robinson just behind. Baker connected with the three leaders, but Dwight attacked and put Robinson and Baker into difficulty. Baker reconnected and was able to take advantage of Dwight’s fall to take second on the course. Baker attacked soon after. Goulet was clearly suffering and dropped off the pace but Robinson was able to answer the acceleration.
“The way the race played out is what led to me not having any gas in the end – I was definitely burning a lot of matches early on out there,” said Goulet.
Robinson chased for the rest of the last lap but Baker would come out the winner. Robinson was all smiles taking second though as Goulet held on for third. Dwight recovered from his crash to finish fourth while local rider Shannon Skerritt (The Vanilla Workhop – Speedvagen Racing) would come through for fifth on the day.
Berry Wins 30-34 Title
The final race of Day three got underway with Nathaniel Ward taking the holeshot. Grant Berry (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory), Matt Pacocha (Hudz – Subaru), Jake Wells (Mafia Racing), Ryan Leech (VisitPA.com) and Eric Rasmussen (Porcupine/Specialized) formed the early group with Molly Cameron (Portland Bicycle Studio) just behind. The first lap further whittled the group down as Berry and Pacocha emerged off the front.
With three laps to go, Berry was hammering in the lead with Pacocha struggling to hold on. Wells drove the chase group of Troy Heithhecker (Team Rio Grande), Leech and Snead. Berry worked to extend his lead to about 10 seconds over Pacocha. The chase group splintered as Cameron made contact with Joshua Snead (HRS-Rock Lobster) and Ben Thompson (Deslvo Custom Cycles). Snead began to falter as Wes Schempf (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes) worked his way up to the chasers.
With one lap to go, Berry had a comfortable lead and rolled across the line to take the championship. The fading Pacocha would hold on for second. Ben Thompson rolled in for third while a last lap crash cost Snead, who ended in fourth. Rasmussen finished fifth while the hard-charging Cameron couldn’t get past seventh.
“I’ve been close before in this race, a second and a third before, and I just wanted to come out and kill it today,” said Berry. “It was a matter of who was going to make the least mistakes, and just keeping it smooth out there. I didn’t realize that I had it until I came around that last corner.”
See today’s Full Results Here.
Photo Gallery by Joe Sales:
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