The Junior Men’s race was the first race of the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships to keep fans guessing as to the winners of all three medals.
While the first two laps of the race featured big pack racing, complete with three Americans in the lead group, it took two laps for the pre-race favorite to go down, and half the race for three riders from three nations to settle into the medal positions.
Americans at the Front, the Favorite Crashes
Americans Andrew August, Magnus White and Frank O’Reilly had impressive starts, with all three sitting inside the top ten with half a lap done.
On Lap One, Swiss racer Jan Christen animated the first climb, drawing out Belgian Aaron Dockx and Dutch David Haverdings.
World Cup winner and favorite Haverdings was the odds-on favorite, but on Lap Two, his front wheel slid out in a downhill turn, holding up Christen, but opening up the race for the rainbow jersey. “Everything was going to plan, I was in the right position, but then I had a stupid fall,” Haverdings said about his crash.
The Dutch star remained on the ground for a few seconds, but eventually got up and continued. “My chain went off, I had to switch bikes, and I lost 50 seconds or so. My legs were pretty shit after my fall,” Haverdings said about his mishap. “It is what it is. It’s unfortunate, but life goes on.”
Three Nations, Three Medals
While Haverdings chased back and passed half the field to finish top ten, the race was on for the medals. Christen overcame his over-the-bars moment when Haverdings went down, and eventually rejoined the leaders.
All eyes were on the Belgians. Could the cyclocross powerhouse repeat their impressive podium sweep in the U23 Men’s race on Saturday? The Belgians hit the front, and Aaron Dockx seized the moment with an attack while his teammate forced Brit Nathan Smith to come around and chase.
Christen climbed back up to the leading two, and suddenly the medals could be locked up if the three riders cooperated.
Christen, fresh of a training camp in the UAE, looked content to pull his way to a medal, all while putting on a show for the fans. The tall Swiss rider performed whips coming down the hill after the stairs, while Dockx looked focused and Smith content to follow the two.
On the final lap, all three attacked the final climb, but nobody could make a difference, and soon the final lap turned into a game of attack and sit up.
On the final rise before the finish, Christen, after dangling behind the other two, put in a massive attack, but Dockx was ready and closed the gap.
The three slowed up, were three-wide for the final few turns, until Dockx accelerated down the hill into the final pavement with Christen and Smith on his wheel.
Christen went right, Smith went left, and the race was on for the rainbow stripes.
While Christen celebrated his surprise win, Dockx held off a timely bike throw by Smith to take Silver.
“It was really hard, I was focusing on the last lap, I tried all in, and then I win,” Christen said. “I’m very happy. It’s really amazing, there was one goal this season, it was Worlds, and I only won this, and it’s really amazing, I can’t believe it.”
“It was super hard all the whole way around, hitting that climb lap after lap it got harder and harder.” said Brit Nathan Smith after losing a photo finish for silver and ending up with bronze. “It’s pretty special to be on the podium. If I managed to get the win, that’d be even better but I can’t be disappointed.”
A Whirlwind Day for Americans
While fast starters Frank O’Reilly and Magnus White faded from their fast starts, Andrew August had a stellar ride to finish fifth in front of a thrilled, supportive crowd.
“I knew I was in a good spot, my legs were good,” August said about his race. “Third lap going up the hill, I got swarmed, and then it got split. I was going as hard as I could but I didn’t want to pull the other guys.”
Dan English and Marcis Shelton did not have fast starts, but had consistent laps to pass O’Reilly and White and finish 17th and 16th, respectively.
See the full results below.
2022 Fayetteville UCI Cyclocross World Championships Results: Junior Men
|3||8||SMITH Nathan||United Kingdom||2004||43:12:00||+0:01|
|5||29||AUGUST Andrew||United States||2005||43:31:00||+0:20|
|13||26||SPRANGER Jack||United States||2004||44:04:00||+0:53|
|14||4||DE MOYER Kenay||Belgium||2004||44:06:00||+0:55|
|16||30||SHELTON Marcis||United States||2004||44:20:00||+1:09|
|17||31||ENGLISH Daniel||United States||2005||44:21:00||+1:10|
|18||14||JEZEK Vaclav||Czech Republic||2005||44:22:00||+1:11|
|20||13||HOJKA Frantisek||Czech Republic||2005||44:44:00||+1:33|
|24||28||O'REILLY Frank||United States||2005||45:16:00||+2:05|
|25||27||WHITE Magnus||United States||2005||45:17:00||+2:06|
|28||44||O BRIEN Liam||Ireland, Republic of||2005||46:04:00||+2:53|
|29||39||DE GROOTE Theo||Canada||2004||46:34:00||+3:23|
|30||15||NOVOTNY Ondrej||Czech Republic||2005||46:35:00||+3:24|
|31||34||MIRA BONASTRE Raul||Spain||2004||46:50:00||+3:39|
|32||45||HARKNESS Travis||Ireland, Republic of||2005||46:59:00||+3:48|
|33||40||RENAUD TREMBLAY Sasha||Canada||2005||47:43:00||+4:32|
|35||GOMAR MILLET Ivan||Spain||2004||DNS|
See our full coverage of the 2022 Cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas here.