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by Dave Mable

Championship racing kicked off on day three of the six-day USAC Cyclocross National Championships with the Masters 30-34 race on a cool, but calm morning.

Out of Bloomington, Indiana, Michael Larson (Team Handmade) took the holeshot and held the lead onto the long, grassy false flat, an area many call the most challenging part of the Reno course.

Before the lap was half over, Brandon Melott (Bike Lab Racing Team) charged ahead and didn’t look back. Entering the hilly wooded section, Melott had a ten-second lead over Larson, who had also created a sizable gap on the rest of the field.

Brandon Melott got out ot a fast stat and ultimately won the Baby Masters race. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Brandon Melott got out ot a fast stat and ultimately won the Baby Masters race. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

“Oh my God, this is nuts, this pace is insane,” Melott said, recounting his thoughts about the early pace. “Then I closed it down at the top of the hill, got in a groove, and they kind of bobbled. That’s where I got the lead at the top of the steps at the top. At that point, you just gotta stay focused, be as flawless as you can.”

Late in the race, Larson, still in second, was charging to close the gap, putting pressure on Melott to pick up his pace. Distracted by the pressure behind, Melott bobbled a couple of times in the final lap, giving away precious seconds to Larson.

“I saw him putting the pressure on, the last two laps [Larson] shut down about five seconds a lap,” said Melott. “I knew he was charging super hard, you know, when you’re racing it’ll get in your head. He put the pressure on and it made me bobble a couple of times. At that point it’s anybody’s race. The race isn’t over until the race is over.”

Melott’s lead was big enough that the bobbles did not cost him the ultimate prize.

Brandon Melott wins the Masters 30-34 race at the 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine

Brandon Melott wins the Masters 30-34 race at the 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © Cyclocross Magazine

Larson earned the silver medal and finished 13 seconds behind the winner.

Michael Larson of Indiana took second on Thursday. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Michael Larson of Indiana took second on Thursday. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Behind the front two, Aaron Bradford (Rock Lobster/Voler) was taking his Mr. T gold chain for a ride, as he jumped into third on the first lap and never looked back, earning a bronze medal. His teammate Eric Brown had to pick his way through a handful of riders to finish behind him, taking fourth and accomplishing the feat of being the final rider to complete six laps.

Aaron Bradford was styling en route to his third-place finish. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Aaron Bradford was styling en route to his third-place finish. Masters Men 30-34. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © J. Vander Stucken / Cyclocross Magazine

Not knowing any of the starters, Melott had no strategy going into today’s race, other than just do what he could do and hope it was good enough.

“When you look at the start list, it’s like, I don’t know who any of these guys are,” said Melott. “You kind of just go look at results, and at that point all you can really do is what you can do. Just go out and race your race and try to be the best you can be.”

Interviews and full results are below.

Masters 30-34 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity ST LicenseTimeGap
1151MELOTTBrandonBike Lab Racing TeamWarr Acres OK26060448:23
2166LARSONMichaelTeam HandmadeBloomington IN23406748:3613
3167BRADFORDAaronAuburn WA15633551:012:38
4162BROWNEricSan Francisco CA41286351:323:09
5161SCHAEFERRainierSan Francisco CA30424943:15@1Lap
6164BOYCEWesleyCycle City RacingPapillion NE29618043:29@1Lap
7156BURNETTIanFort Lewis CollegeDurango CO19172544:29@1Lap
8155BERNSTEINFranzOakland CA51729145:02@1Lap
9159WOODBrentFelton CA31188245:36@1Lap
10168INGRAMCallumReno NV26834946:44@1Lap
11157PFAFFZacharyTulsa OK29700247:04@1Lap
12169CURRYReidBend OR18746048:01@1Lap
13158SEMENOVRomanRoute 1 VeloRedlands CA33911848:20@1Lap
14154TIONGSONMelvictorSouth San FranciscoCA41378248:48@1Lap
15152MORITZThomasTeam Tom's Bicycles p/b TopecaTulsa OK40461950:44@1Lap
16160RUIZJonathanLamprey SystemsAllentown PA20024451:03@1Lap
DNF165FOLLMUTHGarrett

For more from Reno, see our continuing coverage of the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals on our dedicated Nationals page.

Photos from the races and reports are available to license here, with more to be added throughout the next week.

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