TABOR, Czech Republic – With the ground frozen over from the chill of the night, the Junior race at the 2015 Cyclocross World Championship promised to be a faster race than the mud of yesterday’s pre-riding was trying to promise. As the riders lined up, all of their eyes were on Eli Iserbyt of Belgium, who had a nearly flawless 2014-15 season in the Junior fields to take the first overall call-up.
Yet it would be Denmark’s Simon Andreassen, a rider who started in the second row, who proved to have the performance of the morning as he soared over the barriers and past the field to cross the line in first, over a half minute ahead of Iserbyt.
Hopping Away With the Race
Once the race began, American rider Gage Hecht was ready to prove he had more than earned his front row call-up, maintaining his pace with the leaders in the top-five. Hecht had a great season in Europe, including a podium at Hoogerheide, and as he told Cyclocross Magazine before he traveled to Tabor, he was hoping to repeat that success at the World Championship.
Iserbyt had control of the first lap until the final corners, where Andreassen pulled ahead. The Belgian attempted to stay with him, but the Danish rider was able to create separation at the barriers as he was the only Junior of the leaders to be able to bunny-hop the uphill barriers. By the time they passed the pits in the second lap, and Iserbyt needed to pit, Andreassen managed a quality gap over the rest of the chasers.
As the remainder of the race had the Danish rider pulling away, the battle for second place heated up. Iserbyt looked out of sorts, unable to dial-in his turn and looking like he was having a difficult time even turning his pedals. Dutch rider Max Gulickx and Hecht both took advantage, with the American taking the second position and looking as if he might get away from the others.
The race for second only intensified once Hecht needed to pit. Andreassen began to ride conservatively in the lead at the bell lap, and Gulickx lead the chasers by five seconds with Iserbyt back to form in third and Hecht following right on his wheel. The last lap played out in a battle of wits and technique.
Battle for Silver Won and Lost on the Final Turn
After an unfortunate bobble early in the last lap, Hecht started slipping behind, but he remained collected as he tried to gain what time he could on the two ahead of him. Meanwhile, Iserbyt had caught up to Gulickx and passed him to take control of second. With less than a half lap to go, Hecht not only caught back on, but showed some fancy maneuvering to put himself ahead of Gulickx and Iserbyt. Hecht controlled the corners and forced Iserbyt to the outside at almost every turn.
Andreassen reached the pavement, grabbed a large Danish flag, and lifted his front wheel in front of the crowd as he crossed the line well ahead of the second place group.
“It was just great, it was perfect,” recalled Andreassen. “I had a very good start, starting from the second row and then on the first downhill I moved up to the second place. I just wanted to be in the first position in the technical parts. I made no mistakes, I just opened up a little gap, and I just [rode] safe and the gap just gets bigger.”
Meanwhile, behind Andreassen, Iserbyt attempted to salvage his race and put in a heavy attack, quickly gaining several seconds on Hecht and Gulickx. It was enough to give the Belgian the ideal position for the final sprint. As Hecht rounded the final corner in third, trying to find that perfect gear to contest with Iserbyt, his chain skipped, causing his rear wheel to throw itself sideways and the American to unclip.
The move proved fatal for the American’s podium hopes as Gulickx took advantage. Iserbyt smoothly crossed the line for second, with the Dutch rider following in for third.
First-Year Junior American’s Thoughts on the Race
“This was definitely harder than anything I’ve ever done before,” Hecht told Cyclocross Magazine right after he finished. “I’m a little disappointed. I was still top five, which is amazing.”
“It’s been an amazing season, I’ve been top five most of the time. Coming from America, being a first year, I’m so ecstatic about [this season],” he continued. “It was fantastic, amazing.”
American rider Gavin Haley was the next from his country to cross the line in 11th, with Brannan Fix coming close behind in 15th. Coop Willsey took 24th and Cameron Beard finishing 39th.
Lance Haidet did not finish after crashing hard into a fence, and hurting both his thumb and derailleur.
Stay tuned for more photos, interviews and an expanded report. See the 2015 Cyclocross World Championships Elite Women’s race report and results here.
2015 Junior Men Cyclocross World Championship Photo Gallery:
Junior Men Results - 2015 UCI Cyclocross World Championships - Tabor, Czech Republic
|4||HECHT Gage||USA19980218||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+00:44|
|10||VAN DER STEGEN Roel||NED19970116||NETHERLANDS||+01:58|
|11||HALEY Gavin||USA19970328||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+02:00|
|14||GASCOYNE William||GBR19980321||GREAT BRITAIN||+02:18|
|15||FIX Brannan||USA19970613||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+02:21|
|24||WILLSEY Cooper||USA19970418||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+03:14|
|28||GREEN Arthur||GBR19970117||GREAT BRITAIN||+03:36|
|30||GIL RANERO Jon||ESP19970604||SPAIN||+03:40|
|32||WATERS Joshua||GBR19980824||GREAT BRITAIN||+03:55|
|33||VOJIR Jaroslav||CZE19970913||CZECH REPUBLIC||+03:56|
|35||MOSES Alfie||GBR19980303||GREAT BRITAIN||+04:04|
|37||MATEJCEK Martin||CZE19970421||CZECH REPUBLIC||+04:12|
|39||BEARD Cameron||USA19980801||UNITED STATES OF AMERICA||+04:14|
|45||JELINEK Josef||CZE19980702||CZECH REPUBLIC||+04:34|
|49||KUNT Lukas||CZE19970916||CZECH REPUBLIC||+05:16|
|56||ANDRESEN Andreas Lund||DEN19980429||DENMARK||+05:29|
|68||BREZINA Jonas||CZE19980628||CZECH REPUBLIC||-1LAP|