It is not very often that cyclocross riders get to say they made a “National Championship” move. After all, how often does a race on the sport’s biggest stage come down to one corner or one feature?
On Thursday in the Men’s Masters 55-59 race, the stage was set for a winning move. Emilio Cervantes and Todd Cassan (Rally Sport Cycling Team) survived an early group of four and took their battle well into the last lap. Cassan led up the climb and was in first position down the descent.
Little did he know, Cervantes had his spot picked out. Most riders were going high on the off-camber along the pond, but Cervantes found a line during pre-ride he thought could give him the ultimate advantage. The California native went low and his wheels hooked up just as planned.
“There were two spots where everybody was going high, but you could go low and carry a bit more speed where it was a little dicier,” Cervantes said about where he made his move. “I didn’t do it during the race because I didn’t want to show it. At the very end at the bottom of the off-camber there was a low line you could rip. It was bumpier, but I could bunny hop the curb and get some speed. I saved it for the end.”
He passed Cassan and would not give up the lead. He sprinted across the finish line to take home his first career cyclocross Stars-and Stripes jersey. His ultimate move wrapped up an exciting race that helped bring early excitement to Thursday afternoon’s races.
What was his key to getting the jersey? Probably a little bit of car racing and a lot of planning.
“I’m a car racer too,” Cervantes said. “And part of car racing is picking different lines, so when I’m pre-riding I’m running off-line everywhere seeing where it’s fast and where there’s grip.”
A Quick Group of Three
It did not take long for the lead selection in the first race of Thursday afternoon to form. After half a lap, a lead group of Cervantes, Cassan and Gunnar Shogren (Pathfinder of WV Race Team) shot off the front. David Turner and Craig Undem (Cycle U) took up the chase.
During the second lap, Undem made it his mission to bridge to the leaders. After a calm, warm morning, the winds kicked up just in time for the afternoon’s races. As the three leaders looked around a bit, Undem was able to grind into the wind on the false flat and close to the front. Halfway through the second lap, the lead group was now four.
Undem’s work took its toll, and a lap later he was dropped. The lead selection was again Cervantes, Cassan and Shogren. A memorable five-lap race was afoot.
The Right Moves
Inside two to go, Cassan decided it was time to force the other two to put their cards on the table. He attacked in the windy false flat, and Cervantes responded while Shogren Dangled.
With a lap and a half left, Cervantes’ title dreams were almost dashed. Heading toward the technical section, he lost control and went through the course tape. He continued down along the course and had to backtrack to get back on the course. Shogren passed him, and then the two had to chase Cassan down. They did, and at the bell, the group was three again.
In the first half of the last lap, Cassan and Cervantes again shook things up by upping the pace in the first half of the lap. They freed themselves from Shogren and the lead trio was now a duo. Either one of the two racers would have to find their spot, or the race would likely come down to a sprint finish.
“We were about five or six seconds up,” said Cervantes. “We basically battled the whole rest of the lap. You know, both of us just trying to kill each other. It was an exciting race.”
Cassan led up the climb and ensuing descents. With the technical off-camber and a narrow trip up to Jurassic Park, being first wheel after the descent was the place to be. However, Cervantes had a plan up his sleeve.
In his other free time, Cervantes dabbles in car racing, which requires top-level line choices of its own to be successful. During pre-ride on Wednesday, Cervantes scouted out about six spots where he thought he had a line on a different line than his competitors. One of these spots was the off-camber at the bottom of the hill.
Cervantes picked his line and dropped to the low line to pass Cassan. His tires hooked up and the lead was his. He kept the lead position, pulled onto the finish straight in first position and ripped off his last effort of the race. The Stars-and-Stripes jersey was his. He had made literally a National Championship move.
Cassan took second and Shogren rolled across to take third.
Full results and a winner interview are below.
Men Masters 55-59 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals
|1||812||CERVANTES||Emilio||Lake Forest CA||41:50|
|2||781||CASSAN||Todd||Rally Sport Cycling Team||Boulder CO||41:54||4|
|3||809||SHOGREN||Gunnar||PATHFINDER of WV Race Team||Morgantown WV||42:13||23|
|4||803||SEIB||Donald||BMB Racing||Bryant Pond ME||42:49||59|
|5||787||UNDEM||Craig||Cycle U||Seattle WA||43:03||1:13|
|7||800||FENTON||Greg||UC Cyclery/JW Floors||Ramona CA||43:42||1:52|
|8||825||TROJAN||Jay||Arc En Ciel Racing Team||Lincoln RI||43:46||1:56|
|10||796||WARREN||Mike||Velo Fratello Cycling Team||Sebastopol CA||44:23||2:33|
|11||830||MARSHALL||Tim||STONEHAUS/FACTORY TREK||Newbury Park CA||44:27||2:37|
|13||786||SMITH||Frank||Feedback Sports Racing||Nederland CO||44:45||2:55|
|14||794||LASTAYO||Paul||KUHL Cycling Team||Salt Lake City UT||44:46||2:56|
|15||788||HAMPTON||Patrick||Schnur Racing||Richmond VA||45:06||3:16|
|16||835||URBINA||Michael||Morgan Hill CA||45:42||3:52|
|18||824||RICHARDS||Doug||Blue Sky Velo||Longmont CO||46:14||4:24|
|19||802||MEIGHAN||Robert||San Jose CA||46:23||4:33|
|20||790||DAHLSTROM||Robert||Boulder Cycle Sport||Boulder CO||46:33||4:43|
|21||815||KLOTZ||Dean||Leadout Racing||Cameron Park CA||46:33||s.t.|
|22||805||MASTORAS||Mark||San Bruno CA||46:43||4:53|
|23||813||ATKINSON||Jim||Los Gatos CA||46:59||5:09|
|24||810||GERCKE||Emil||Feedback Sports Racing||Casper WY||47:07||5:17|
|25||799||HENRY||Mark||Incline Village NV||47:17||5:27|
|25||816||GUNSALUS||Mark||Corner Cycle Cycling Club||Dudley MA||47:52||6:02|
|25||776||PAPPE||James||Cannondale Capo p/b GQ-6 Mast||Bakersfield CA||48:20||6:30|
|25||789||SCARBOROUGH||Mike||Reno Wheelmen||Reno NV||38:57||@1Lap|
|25||782||TINLINE||Ross||Pen Velo Racing/Summit Bicycles||San Carlos CA||39:16||@1Lap|
|25||807||SCHAUB||Michael||Feedback Sports Racing||Golden CO||39:32||@1Lap|
|25||797||FLICK||Jeffrey||KUHL Cycling Team||Salt Lake City UT||39:39||@1Lap|
|25||817||CARPENTER||Thomas||Team Oakland Cycling||Oakland CA||39:39||@1Lap|
|25||798||DE ANDA||Raul||West Sacramento CA||39:45||@1Lap|
|25||792||KOENIG||Mark||Pen Velo Racing/Summit Bicycles||San Jose CA||40:27||@1Lap|
|41||818||SALVAIL||Pen Velo Racing/Summit Bicycles||Mountain View CA||40:32||@1Lap|
|42||778||HILLIGOSS||Angry Catfish||Eden Prairie MN||41:01||@1Lap|
|43||791||KANEKO||El Sobrante CA||41:19||@1Lap|
|44||831||VRIELING||Funsport Bikes Cycling Team||Modesto CA||43:02||@1Lap|
|45||785||DOMMEN||San Anselmo CA||43:12||@1Lap|
|46||833||SEIVERT||ol'Republic/SERT||Grass Valley CA||43:23||@1Lap|
|47||801||PARENTI||Orange Pedal Cycling||Reno NV||44:11||@1Lap|
|48||832||RIDGWAY||Colavita Racing Inc.||Santa Rosa CA||44:16||@1Lap|
|49||838||AFFONSO||Team Oakland Cycling||Emeryville CA||44:49||@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.
Haven’t yet entered our Nationals Fantasy Game? Enter your team for a chance to win a set of Vittoria Elusion Disc Wheels and Terreno Dry tires.