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.
“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.
Larson earned the silver medal and finished 13 seconds behind the winner.
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.
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
|1||151||MELOTT||Brandon||Bike Lab Racing Team||Warr Acres OK||260604||48:23|
|2||166||LARSON||Michael||Team Handmade||Bloomington IN||234067||48:36||13|
|4||162||BROWN||Eric||San Francisco CA||412863||51:32||3:09|
|5||161||SCHAEFER||Rainier||San Francisco CA||304249||43:15||@1Lap|
|6||164||BOYCE||Wesley||Cycle City Racing||Papillion NE||296180||43:29||@1Lap|
|7||156||BURNETT||Ian||Fort Lewis College||Durango CO||191725||44:29||@1Lap|
|13||158||SEMENOV||Roman||Route 1 Velo||Redlands CA||339118||48:20||@1Lap|
|14||154||TIONGSON||Melvictor||South San Francisco||CA||413782||48:48||@1Lap|
|15||152||MORITZ||Thomas||Team Tom's Bicycles p/b Topeca||Tulsa OK||404619||50:44||@1Lap|
|16||160||RUIZ||Jonathan||Lamprey Systems||Allentown PA||200244||51:03||@1Lap|
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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