BOULDER, Colo.—Winter came early Valmont Bike Park for the final day of racing at the Alfalfa’s Eldora US Open of Cyclocross.
A 40-degree temperature change and 7 inches of snow flipped the venue into a whole new ballgame for a full day of cyclocross racing, including the Category 2 UCI races for Elite Women and Elite Men. Sunday the temperatures never went above the freezing mark, and with mud mixing with the frozen precipitation for races featured on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX).
Two for Honsinger in Boulder
The soggy soil and the cold temperatures created havoc on the five-lap Elite Women’s race.
“Just a lot of back and forth,” said Clara Honsinger (Team S&M CX). “Somebody could get 10 seconds, and one little bobble and you’d be all the way back. Whoever was clean, got it.”
Groups of riders formed on the first lap of the 38-rider field. Honsinger took the lead with Sofia Gomez Villafane (Argentina/Pivot/Maxxis p/b Stan's/DNA Cycling), Sunny Gilbert (Ellisville, Mo./Van Dessel Factory Team) and Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah/Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru).
“Initially it was cold, but the adrenaline kicks in and you can’t really feel anything by the end of it,” said Honsinger, who took advantage of sluggish pit stops on lap 4 by Clouse and Gilbert to make the winning move. “You’d step off (the pedals) and your cleats would fill with ice. When Katie and Sunny went into the pit, I just went. You get back on and you can’t pedal. I just took advantage of that and ride a muddy bike for two laps.”
Gomez Villafane had fallen off the pace, while Gilbert and Clouse rode together after the fateful maneuver in the pit. Honsinger would seal the win in 48 minutes, 9 seconds. Clouse put in an extra effort on the final lap and would take second, 12 seconds behind Honsinger. It was her first ProCX podium of the year. Finishing third was Gilbert, who was 14 seconds behind Clouse.
Fix Takes Win in Home State
For the Elite Men, overcast skies accentuated the fading daylight and put a bit of emphasis on speed for the seven-lap race. The first lap also had a little drama and was led by a threesome—Troy Wells (Durango, Colo./Team CLIF Bar), Lance Haidet (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Donnelly Sports) and Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo./Full Cycle Cyclocross Team).
A group of five were chasing, which included Brannan Fix (Alpha Bicycle-Groove Subaru). Not in the mix after that lap was Saturday’s winner, Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Alpha Bicycle Co./ Groove Subaru), who had dropped a chain and had to run for almost a mile to the pit.
After one more lap, Brunner would push his way into the lead with a seven-second margin over Haidet. There was close to 15 seconds of separation to Wells, who had been joined by Fix. The rest of the chasers were 30 seconds back or more. On lap three, Fix had worked his way into solo third position.
With an attack on three laps to go, it looked like Brunner’s now 15-second gap would stick for the lead. But Fix kept pedaling hard, joining him with one lap to go.
“Really I think it was just (keeping) a consistent speed. That’s my strength in this weather, I can just ride sections clean, time after time, and just go the same pace. As long as I time it right, that works out pretty well for me,” said Fix about pushing to the win on the final lap. “I just kept moving forward and before I knew it, the last lap, I was in the lead. It was kind of a blur for most of it, but it was awesome.”
Fix finished in a time of 57 minutes, 23 seconds. He had time to spare with a clean final lap, winning with a 37-second margin over Brunner. In third place was Haidet, 59 seconds off the winning pace. Hecht ran out of laps and would chase to a seventh-place finish.
“When I saw the forecast I was pretty excited. I just love weather like this,” added Fix.
ProCX races head to the nation’s capitol next weekend, Oct. 20-21 for DCCX. This is one of the largest, internationally-sanctioned cycling events in the Mid-Atlantic region, bringing bicycles, cowbells, food trucks and beer to The Armed Forces Retirement Home for the 12th year. DCCX is the decisive event for the Parkway CX Trophy presented by Union Craft Brewery, with $4,000 prize purse and award jerseys. DCCX makes an annual donation to the Friends of the Soldiers Home, an organization that supports the veterans who reside on campus and works to promote the relationship between the AFRH and nearby neighborhoods.
USA Cycling ProCX features the premier cyclocross events in America and uses an overall ranking system to determine the best individual male and female ‘cross racers over the course of the season. The 2018 ProCX calendar includes a total of 39 UCI-inscripted category 1 and 2 races across 19 states and the District of Columbia. The calendar spans from September to December, culminating with the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 11-16, 2018. To learn more about USA Cycling, visit usacycling.org, and follow ProCX all season on Twitter - @USACyclingLive (#ProCX).