Webber celebrating his win. © Steve Anderson
The temperatures were higher, the sun was sunnier, and the mood of the crowd was even cheerier than it had been for the past three days of racing at Valmont Bike Park. And for good reason—their hometown hero, the man who designed the Nationals course, Pete Webber, was leading the Men’s 40-44 race, the largest race thus far. “It was a dry and fast course this morning, and wind was a factor,” Webber said.
Webber led practically from the gun, which was the idea all along. He said, post-race, “The goal was to get out front right away and smash it, and the race went according to plan.” However, it was his Boulder Cycle Sport teammate Brandon Dwight who took the initial lead, though an early crash took him out of the top spot.
“On the very first climb, it was Pete and Mark Savery and myself, and this guy came right up the middle in the icy rut and just took me out. It was an unsafe pass and he completely took me out,” Dwight explained.
The Men’s 40-44 race was the biggest race so far with 130 starters. © Steve Anderson
The lead group consisted of Webber, Dwight, Mark Savery (Trek Cyclocross Collective), Andrew Messer (Cyclocrossworld), and Brian Finnerty (Cal-Giant)
Within a lap, Webber was sitting at the front, trading spots with Savery, while Finnerty was making a bid for the top spot. Laps times were clocking in at roughly eight minutes, making them the fastest of the week.
However, the pace was tough on Savery, who’s from Nebraska. “The altitude was getting to me,” he explained. “I knew I had to keep Pete close early on, because he goes hard at the beginning. Those first two laps were just too much, it overcooked me a little bit.”
Webber and Savery began to battle each other, separating from the rest of the lead group as the racers spread out across the course. Behind them, Edwin Bull (Van Dessel Factory Team) worked his way through the crowd and into the lead group with Messer and Colby Pearce (Trek), along with Paul Bonds (Oklahoma City Velo Club).
By the third lap, the altitude was catching up with Savery, and Webber was starting to create a small gap heading into the lap. Behind the two, Messer, Bull and Pearce were in a group together, with Dwight trying to catch back on. “I wanted to win,” Dwight later admitted.
Between Dwight and Pearce, as Webber’s and Savery’s respective teammates, did team tactics come into play? “I don’t think there were any tactics going on back there. I think everyone was just full gas the whole day.”
Pearce began to fade, and Messer was able to pull away as Dwight caught up to him, and the two began to chase down Savery, who was fading farther back from Webber. A bobble at the off-camber after the stairs put Savery even more in the red, and with two laps to go, Webber’s lead had extended to 30 seconds. Back from his crash, Dwight was pulling away from Messer and Bull for the third podium spot.
Pete Webber taking the men’s 40-44 win. © Steve Anderson
In the meantime, Webber was weaving around the course to the roar of fans, even cracking a smile on the off-camber.
He sailed into the finish with plenty of time to celebrate the win, and 30 seconds later, Savery rolled in, happy with second, while Dwight took third spot.
Pete Webber Solos to 40-44 Win at the 2014 National Cyclocross Championships – Gallery by Mike Albright
Masters Men 40-44 Results – 2014 Cyclocross National Championships
For all the best Cyclocross Nationals 2014 coverage, including bike profiles, race reports, results and video interviews, check out our 2014 Cyclocross National Championship Page here.