by Zachary Schuster
The weekend brought a rare double Super Cup to the 2016 Trek WCA Cyclocross series as Saturday’s o’Race was followed up with the Sun Prairie Cup in, of all places, Sun Prairie. The challenging course and exciting atmosphere atop the Party Hill always make the event hosted by the Brazen Dropouts a highly anticipated event, and with the great weather and work of new race organizer Travis Goodlund, the 2016 version did not disappoint.
The highlight of the course at Sheehan Park is the Party Hill that majestically soars over the course. Any time you have a spot where riders are forced to travel by spectators at slow speeds—either by foot or on a slow climb—it is going to make a great place for cyclocross fans to yell encouraging things and perhaps dish out the occasional gummy worm or beer hand-up. The Party Hill is also a great cyclocross feature because it allows spectators to see nearly the entire course from one viewing spot.
Although known for its iconic hill, the cyclocross circuit at Sheehan Park is one of the toughest in the WCA series because of the numerous false flats and small climbs riders have to power through. The large amount of elevation change on the course means that riders rarely get a break, and with Sunday’s setup, the designers made sure that those breaks were punctuated by several challenging off-camber sections that were similar to what one would expect to find at a race like the Trek CXC Cup.
Beard Doubles Up for the Weekend
In a post-race interview after Celtic Cross, April Beard (Trek Midwest) said that she was not quite sure what an “April Beard course” is. After her two performances this weekend in Fitchburg and Sun Prairie, the answer may be “all of them.” Beard raced out to a early lead up and over the Party Hill and held off a stiff challenge from Antonia Leal (unattached) to take home the victory in the Women’s Elite race.
Similar to the Party Pit at Fitchburg, the Party Hill is one of those features that is early enough in the lap that it can cause a Chicago-like traffic jam. As she did on Saturday, Beard solved that problem by being the first racer to get up and over the hill. She rode that early advantage to a small five second lead after the first lap as Leal, racing her in her first WCA CX race of the season, gave chase.
Over the next several laps Beard extended her lead to about 15 seconds, but Leal kept it there as she stayed in hot pursuit for the rest of the 45 minute race. Beard was able to keep her advantage throughout the six lap race and brought home her second top podium step of the weekend. Leal’s strong performance gave her a second place finish, and Julie Phelps (Gryphon Velo Racing) rounded out the podium in third.
One of the more interesting stories of the WCA Women’s series is the competing epic duels that Phelps and Meredith Peterson “Tyrany” Turany have been having. Phelps and Turany are long-time friends and competitors, and this season they have been engaging in bike racing combat in the morning Women’s Masters race and then again in the afternoon Women’s Elite race. The trend seems to have been that whoever wins the morning Masters race has one less match to burn in the afternoon and hands to higher (or top) spot over to the other rider. On Sunday, Phelps must have brought an extra matchbook with her as she won the Women’s Masters race and also topped Peterson Turany with her podium spot in the Elite. We will try to bring you more on this epic frattle (friendship battle?) in the coming weeks.
Blodgett Powers to a Gummy-Powered Single-Speed Win
This weekend we learned that on the first lap David Blodgett (Great Dane Velo Club) is more of a Party Hill guy than a Party Pit guy. After an auspicious start on Saturday, Blodgett had no problems jumping off to a fast start and powering up and over the Party Hill at the start of Sunday’s single-speed race. As he has done all season, Carlos Casali (Intelligensia) gave Blodgett a strong challenge for several laps, but Blodgett was able to eventually pull away to take home his … fourth? fifth? … single-speed victory of the season.
As always, the victory over the single-speed field was not an easy affair. Although the crafty “single-speed specialist” has become a thing in American cyclocross, Sunday’s tilt was a battle of three powerful giants of the road. “Jadon Jaeger’s coming after me too. Pretty much all of us are kind of roadies in the summer season,” said Blodgett about his single-speed competitors. “It’s kind of fun with the single-speed takeover of roadies at the front.”
Casali went with Blodgett off the front at the start of the race and the two dueled through the first two laps as things sorted out behind them. The sorting out proved to be Jadon Jaeger (Belgianwerkx), a third road warrior, jumping out to the third spot and trailing the lead group by only a handful of seconds through the first several laps.
During the third lap, Blodgett was able to open up a gap on Casali and slowly extended it through the next several trips about the circuit. Although the off-cambers are not necessarily Blodgett’s forte, the multiple false flats were really where he did his damage on Sunday. “You know, I am not really super-fast on the technical stuff, so I treat it as rest so I can blast away later.” Blast away he did as he opened up a sizable lead and kept his trademark pain face on as he powered to the top step of the podium.
As Blodgett mentioned in his post-race interview, Jadon Jaeger is emerging as a force to be reckoned with in the single-speed category. Known for his insane power on the road, Jaeger has been adding more and more deftness with the cyclocross whip each season and now stands as a threat to podium in any one-gear race he enters. Jaeger gave Casali and stiff challenge for second on Sunday afternoon, but Casali was able to hold Jadon and his pink Gunnar off to take second. Jaeger took home the third spot, and Lee Unwin (L5 Racing) turned in one of his strongest performances of the season to finish fourth.
In case the reader is wondering about the title for this race’s recap, the single-speed category in America is known for having an alt-vibe of its own. With a healthy supply of hand-ups available at the top of the Party Hill, I asked Blodgett if he got involved with the fun during his race, “Are you supposed to take beers? I took a gummy worm. Although I cannot recommend gummy worms, they’re really chewy and not nice when you’re riding hard.” Given the rules of cyclocross state that riders are not allowed to take any hand-up from spectators that will enhance performance, Blodgett’s experience is definitive proof that gummy worms are actually a detriment to a rider’s ability and should thus be a-ok.
Krueger Gets Redemption After Not Feeling the Luck o’ the Irish on Saturday
In the sport of cyclocross riders expect mechanicals such as flat tires, dropped chains, and broken derailleurs to be all in the game. Wardrobe malfunctions, however, are another story. Masters 35+ racer Al Krueger (unattached) suffered the unfortunate feat of losing his shoe during the first trip through the sand of the Party Pit in Fitchburg and missed out on what turned out to be an epic battle between Scott Daubert and Joe Curtes.
Krueger had these thoughts to offer on not feeling a bit Irish at Celtic Cross, “Coming out of Saturday I was a bit disappointed to miss an opportunity to battle it out with Scott and Joe. They are strong and I felt I had the legs to be a factor in the race. But all bets are off when you go into a sandpit in cyclocross.”
If F. Scott Fitzgerald were a cyclocross fan, he certainly would have said “I once thought there were no second acts in cyclocross lives, but there certainly was to be a second act to Al Krueger’s weekend.” Krueger got his Bontrager shoe fixed and came back with a vengeance in Sunday’s Masters 35+ race at the Sun Prairie Cup.
The race started off much like Saturday, with Joe Curtes (Twin Six) setting the early pace. Krueger stuck with him through the first lap and then decided to give it a go when Curtes gave him the chance. “When we got to the second lap [Joe] pulled off and waved me by to take the lead. I pushed the pace a bit to test where things were at and I got a bit of a gap. When I saw that, I gave it some more gas and I was able to stay away. I had a lot of fun on the course.”
The second lap attack Krueger put in eventually staked him out to a 20 second lead that he held throughout the remainder of the contest. He was even game enough to succumb to peer pressure from the fans on the Party Hill to give it a go at riding the hill once or twice. Curtes, who achieved a nearly decade-long dream of winning the Beachwood Blaster mountain bike race last weekend, kept his position for his second second place finish of the weekend. Jason Bleedhorn (Five Nines / Motorless Motion) enjoyed his return to racing minus the event organizing part by rounding out the top three.
Matter Edges Out Neff and Literally the Strongest Cyclocross Field in WCA History
To be honest, your humble reporter (I am humble, ok, I swear) has only been racing cyclocross since 2013, but during that time he has learned that when you see names like Matter, Neff, Schouten, Stelljes, and Teaters on the start list, you are going to be in for a race that is worth far more than the zero dollars it takes to attend a WCA cyclocross race. Throw in mountain bike legend Cole House for good measure, and it is pretty safe to say that Sunday’s start list was the best group of Wisconsin off-road biking talent assembled since 2013 and probably ever.
Needless to say, this year’s running of the Men’s Elite race at the Sun Prairie Cup did not disappoint. Perhaps somewhat surprising, the early driver of the pace was a rider looking to add his name to that list of must-see attractions. Kyle Russ (Brazen Dropouts) jumped out to a fast start through the first lap as two main groups emerged. The lead group was headed by Russ, Dan Teaters (Team Wheel and Sprocket), Isaac Neff (Neff Cycle Service), and Hard Corey Stelljes (Five Nines / Motorless Motion). During that first lap, a chase group of Brian Matter (KS Energy Team Wisconsin), Tristan Schouten (Pete’s Garage), and Cole House (unattached) also quickly emerged.
During the second trip through the circuit, Dan Teaters took a turn on the front and spent some energy driving the pace. While Teaters was leading the head group, the chase group including Matter and Schouten slowly began to work its way back toward the front. One thing that cyclocross fans quickly learn when watching elite-level racing such as American UCI races and World Cups is that those races are rarely decided in the first few minutes of the contest like many amateur races are. Sixty minutes is a long time in an elite-level race and often the first group out is not the one out there at the end.
That observation provides a bit of foreshadowing, as the two groups eventually merged around the 20-minute mark of the race. Over the next two or three laps the lead group was winnowed down to five riders—Matter, Neff, Schouten, Teaters, and Stelljes. The first big moment of the race occurred with about four laps to go as Stelljes rode to the front and then lost his traction heading through the “halfpipe” section near the end of the circuit. Such a fall is not necessarily catastrophic, but a dropped chain caused a 10-second delay that proved to be too much to overcome against such formidable competition.
With the group down to four, Matter and Neff made their move and split the group of four into a lead group of two and a chase group of Schouten and Teaters. Matter and Neff did not necessarily sit in as they slowly extended the gap to the chase duo and entered the last lap neck and neck. As we have seen throughout the season, when you have a feature such as the Party Hill that can be difficult to ride cleanly, there is a distinct advantage to getting to the feature first.
On the penultimate climb of the Party Hill, Matter was the first of the duo to the hill and a brief pause at the apex forced Neff off his line and gave the Team Wisconsin rider a small three second lead heading off the Hill. Matter kept that three second gap throughout the next trip around the circuit until Neff pulled ahead after the barriers during the last lap. Said Matter, “I didn’t get clipped into my pedals quickly enough, and there’s a little climb after the barriers. So I just lost all momentum and figured at that point [Isaac] would be coming by me. I waited up and sat on his wheel for half a lap and then hit him into the headwind.”
That headwind blowing through the parking lot pavement section was where Matter got the jump on Neff and made his winning move, “Pretty much on the finishing sprint on the pavement with, I don’t know, 50 meters to go. It was into a big headwind. Isaac kind of pulled over to the side a little bit and [forward hand motion signaling a cyclocross attack] that was it.”
The win was Matter’s second of the year in the WCA, and despite finishing second by mere seconds, Neff still looked sharp in his new Borah Teamwear long-sleeve Neff Cycle Service jersey. While Matter and Neff were trading blows, Schouten was able to establish a small gap on Teaters over the course of the last lap and cruised home to a third place finish to join the podium of legends. Teaters’ consolation prize was some advice from Matter (@TheWiscoDisco) on how to put together the proper Twitter handle, “Something with cheese. I don’t know, something to do with cheese.”
Dan Teaters Double State Championship Watch
Lest the reader think that these race reports are banal and unimportant (but really, they probably are), an off-the-record conversation with a certain agitator, for privacy’s sake we will call Dan T. No wait, that’s too obvious, let’s say D. Teaters, indicated that last week’s edition of Cheese n Bikes has encouraged him to go for the double state championship in 2016. We are, of course, envisioning D. Teaters wearing a jersey similar to this one during next year’s season should he pull off this impressive feat:
With a second place finish at Celtic Cross and Sunday’s fourth place showing at the Sun Prairie, Teaters sits in a strong position atop the Super Cup standings. He currently has 109 points, and his nearest competitors are Hard Corey Stelljes (61 points) and Kyle Russ (60 points). With two more races on the Super Cup docket, perhaps Russ and Stelljes can catch Teaters by forming a super rider Hard Korey Stelljruss.
Dan T. also currently sits in just four points out of first place in the Chicago Cross Cup standings. With top competitors David Reyes and Michael Dutczak not racing over the weekend, one could say that Dan is Teatering on the brink of taking control of the battle for that second state championship jersey. The Chicago Cross Cup next heads to Campton, located in the far west Chicago suburbs, for their own version of Halloween Cross.
What’s on Tap, with … PBR
The 2016 Trek WCA Cyclocross train next heads Milwaukee and Oshkosh for a pair of Braggin’ Rights races. Saturday’s contest is the annual Halloween Classic at Washington Park in Milwaukee. Riders are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween finest for this Saturday’s Braggin’ Rights race (don’t ask Dan Teaters which WCA racer you should dress up as though, he totally biffed.)
(For the record this reporter’s choice would clearly be Cale Dorn)
Riders will hopefully be spared the muddy, slopfest that was the 2015 Halloween Cross, but they can still expect to hop over the Coffin of Doom and navigate the other features the Velo Trocadero crew throws into the 2016 cyclocross circuit at Washington Park.
Sunday’s race is the Sunnyview Cross race at the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh. The event, being put on by Team Wheel and Sprocket, is another of the Cross of the North series being held outside the Madison / Milwaukee I-94 corridor.
Brief editorializing from this reporter: One of the most common complaints heard about WCA cyclocross courses is that they are not very interesting. The organizers of the races in the Cross of the North series (Wausau, Manitowoc, now Oshkosh) have done yeoman’s work putting together some of the best courses the WCA has ever seen. The Oshkosh race is a mere 1 hour, 35 minutes from the state Capitol in Madison and 1 hour 25 minutes from Washington Park, so travel times are similar to Madison to Milwaukee and vice versa. If interesting, challenging courses are really important to you, then show Team Wheel and Sprocket some love and head up to Oshkosh to race at Sunnyview Cross on Sunday.
Elite results below the interviews. See last weekend’s Badger Prairie, Verona Wisconsin race report here.
2016 WCA Wisconsin Cyclocross Sun Prairie Cyclocross Results - Elite Women
|1||April||Beard||Trek Midwest Team|
|3||Julie||Phelps||Gryphon Velo Racing|
|4||Holly||Lavesser||Ben's Cycle/Milwaukee Bicycle Co. Cycling Team|
|5||Meredith||Peterson||MadCity Velo Club|
2016 WCA Wisconsin Cyclocross Sun Prairie Cyclocross Results - Elite Men
|4||Dan||Teaters||Team Wheel & Sprocket|
|6||Kyle||Russ||Brazen Dropouts Cycling Team|
|7||Bryan||Fosler||801 W. Madison|
|8||Seth||Eckert||801 W. Madison|
|9||Micah||Moran||801 W. Madison|
|10||Christopher||Finkeldei||KS Energy Services / MOSH / Team Wiscons|
|11||Matthew||Riley||KS Energy Services / MOSH / Team Wiscons|
|12||Travis||Braun||Revolution Cycles Club|
|13||Matthew||Kamphuis||Trek Midwest Team|
|14||Josh||Fangman||Brazen Dropouts Cycling Team|
|15||David||Blodgett||Great Dane Velo Club p/b Capital Brewery|