Gage Hecht and Brannan Fix are friends and Alpha Bicycle – Groove Subaru teammates, and on Saturday at the Silver Goose Cyclocross, Fix showed Hecht how to win the Elite Men’s race. Even if he didn’t know he was doing it.
“Up on these run-ups here, I was watching my teammate Brannan Fix ride them, and he was doing it really smoothly,” Hecht said. “I followed his line a couple laps and realized that might be an advantage.”
Saturday’s race started out with a massive selection of eight riders at the front after one lap on a damp afternoon at Little Lake Park. As the laps added up, the group slowly started to whittle down as riders popped off the back one-by-one.
With two laps to go, the group was down to Hecht, Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Michael van den Ham (Garneau – Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano). Even though the U23 Hecht was with three of the biggest favorites for Sunday’s Elite Pan-Ams race, he used the sixth lap to show that he is not afraid of his ’cross elders.
The middle part of the track in Midland featured the most technical part of the course, with a series of steep ups and downs that were rendered quite muddy by Friday’s course inspection.
After watching his teammate Fix nail the section earlier in the race, Hecht followed in Fix’s treadmarks and made his move in the technical section. A sprint up the two sets of stairs and Hecht split the lead group apart.
“I kind of went full-stick there and kept it going up the staircase, and I knew after a few digs like that the gap would really stretch,” Hecht said about his move.
Van den Ham followed him through the final trip through the start/finish, but Hecht’s time trial prowess allowed him to pull away for the winning gap.
Hecht was not challenged in the last lap en route to winning his second-straight Saturday Elite race.
A Pack Mentality
On Sunday, the talented group of North American U23 riders will get there own race. Saturday, they again got to mix things up with the Elite.
Despite the 2018 youth movement, it was another rider in “old man” Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing) who was mixing things up early. Ortenblad took the lead spot heading into the technical section and led the way well into the second lap.
That is not to say that the young U23 riders were not well represented. After one lap, the lead group was eight, with U23s Hecht, Fix, Eric Brunner (FCX Elite) and Cooper Willsey (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) joining Ortenblad, Hyde, Werner and Van den Ham.
The group stayed at eight all the way through the end of Lap 3, with Lance Haidet (Donnelly Cycling) replacing Brunner but keeping the U23 pool strong.
At the end of four of seven laps, the group contracted down to six, with Haidet and Ortenblad falling off the pace.
Follow the Leader, Kind Of
In Lap 5, things started to heat of up at the front of the race.
Feeling better every day after missing a month due to injury, Hyde joined Hecht in pushing the pace and seeing what it would do to the rest of the group. The two carried a small advantage into the double set of stairs, and when the lap ended, their effort popped Fix off the pace.
The group was now down to five.
Earlier in the race, Fix took the lead spot going through the technical series of ups and downs. After pre-riding the course on Friday, the Coloradoan had the section dialed.
While Fix was ripping through the muddy, technical section, Hecht was taking notes.
With two laps to go, Hecht made his move, following in the treadmarks his teammate laid down earlier in the race.
Hecht rode the ups and stayed fast on the descents. After clearing the section, he sprinted up to two flights of stairs, daring the others to follow. Only Van den Ham could keep his pace.
The two carried a five-second lead through the big descent, and then Hecht gained some space on Van den Ham in the back third of the lap. As they popped out onto the long start/finish stretch, Hecht’s lead was three seconds. Van den Ham did what he could on the long straight, but Hecht’s time trial prowess kept him at bay.
“He pedals too hard,” Van den Ham joked. “He dropped me on the start stretch. I closed it to like three bike lengths, but then he went all TT on me. I was like, ‘Geez. Geez.'”
With some breathing room on his chaser, Hecht stayed focused on the technical sections and applied his power where he could.
“I kept giving digs,” Hecht said about holding his lead. “I think it kind of wore both of us out.”
It worked and Hecht stayed clean to win his second-straight Saturday race.
He is now looking forward to Sunday’s U23 Pan-American Championship that he enters as the favorite.
“Championships are always big,” he said. “I really enjoy doing them because of the extra added pressure. It adds a little bit of exhilaration. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited for it.”
Behind Hecht, Hyde was determined to not give up on second. Early in the lap, he bid Werner adieu and accelerated forward to bridge the gap to second. Hyde caught his national champ counterpart in the first third of the lap and then left him behind.
Hyde was unable to catch the leader, but he did take home a second-place finish in his third race back from injury. Van den Ham held on to finish third and cash in on his fan-favorite status.
Werner took fourth and Willsey fifth to round out the wide-angle podium.
Full results are below and a winner interview are below.
Elite Men's Results: 2018 Silver Goose CX
|1||4||HECHT, Gage||ALPHA BICYCLE CO./GROOVE SUBARU SILVERTHORNE||USA||59:55:00|
|2||2||HYDE, Stephen||CANNONDALE P/B CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM||USA||1:00:03|
|3||5||VAN DEN HAM, Michael||GARNEAU - EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||CAN||1:00:09|
|4||1||WERNER, Kerry||KONA MAXXIS SHIMANO||USA||1:00:25|
|5||13||WILLSEY, Cooper||CANNONDALE P/B CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM||USA||1:00:26|
|6||15||FIX, Brannan||ALPHA BICYCLE CO.-GROOVE SUBARU||USA||1:01:03|
|7||3||ORTENBLAD, Tobin||SANTA CRUZ / DONKEY LABEL RACING||USA||1:01:22|
|8||23||DILLMAN, Andrew||SDG MUSCLE-MONSTER||USA||1:01:46|
|9||14||HOLMGREN, Gunnar||HARDWOOD NEXT WAVE CYCLING TEAM||CAN||1:01:50|
|10||9||KAISER, Cody||LANGETWINS / SPECIALIZED||USA||1:02:18|
|11||10||CLARK, Anthony||SQUID SQUAD||USA||1:02:25|
|12||22||NOEL, Sam||CANNONDALE P/B CYCLOCROSSWORLD DEVO TEAM||USA||1:02:57|
|13||6||HAIDET, Lance||DONNELLY SPORTS||USA||1:03:03|
|14||11||BRUNNER, Eric||FCX ELITE||USA||1:03:07|
|15||20||CHANCE, Maxx||FCX ELITE||USA||1:03:46|
|16||19||FORTIER, Marc André||PIVOT CYCLES- OTE||CAN||1:03:51|
|17||31||ORSCHEL, Tyler||DURHAM SHREDDERS||CAN||1:03:53|
|18||26||DISERA, Quinton||NORCO FACTORY TEAM||CAN||1:04:29|
|19||56||CLARK, Tyler||HOMESTEAD RACING||CAN||1:05:13|
|20||28||WENCZEL, Kale||JAM / NCC||USA||1:06:09|
|21||16||O'DONNELL, Trevor||LAKESIDE STORAGE/BICYCLES PLUS||CAN||1:06:16|
|23||25||GOMEZ VILLAFANE, Benjamin||GARNEAU-EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||USA||1:07:19|
|24||18||ST JOHN, Derrick||VAN DESSEL P/B HYPERTHREADS||CAN||@2Lap|
|25||46||HAMM, Emile||BLACKSHEEP MOUNTAIN BIKE CLUB||CAN||@2Lap|
|26||27||POSTIER, Dylan||GARNEAU-EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||USA||@2Lap|
|27||32||HAYES, Noah||VOLER/EASTON/HRS/ROCK LOBERSTER||USA||@3Lap|
|28||33||LONEY, Calvin||THENORTHHUB P/B BOLTON TIRE||CAN||@3Lap|
|29||57||HLAVENKA, Luke||THENORTHHUB P/B BOLTON TIRE||CAN||@3Lap|
|30||36||RICCI, Christian||LAKESIDE STORAGE/BICYCLES PLUS||CAN||@3Lap|
|31||54||VARABEI, Anton||TORONTO HUSTLE||CAN||@3Lap|
|32||35||LEFEBVRE, Alex||PETERBOROUGH CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@3Lap|
|33||50||MENEGUZZI, Robert||HAMILTON CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@3Lap|
|34||48||MATHESON, Brendan||BARRIE CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@3Lap|
|35||49||COFFEY, Timothy||TEAM ATHLETIC MENTORS / GREENWAREUSA||USA||@3Lap|
|36||52||MCKALL, Terry||NAKED FACTORY RACING||CAN||@3Lap|
|38||30||JOHNSON, Ryan||UPMC/PRO BIKES||USA||@4Lap|
|39||40||KIRBY, Stephen||MIDWEEK CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@4Lap|
|40||34||WALSH, Edward||TEAM NOVA SCOTIA||CAN||@4Lap|
|41||51||DE RUITER, Darren||NCCH ELITE PB MGCC||CAN||@4Lap|
|42||38||MITCHELL, Christopher||THUNDER BAY CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@4Lap|
|43||41||BARTON, Malcolm||DURHAM SHREDDERS||CAN||@4Lap|
|44||45||CORMIER, Jacques||MIDWEEK CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@4Lap|
|45||53||LANCIA, Mark||AWI RACING P/B THE CRANK AND SPROCKET||CAN||@4Lap|
|46||55||GREGORY, Connor||BATEMAN'S BIKE CO P/B CLOUD9 AV||CAN||@4Lap|
|50||44||MINICOLA, Justin||PETERBOROUGH CYCLING CLUB||CAN||@5Lap|
|DNF||8||KISSEBERTH, Jack||GARNEAU EASTON P/B TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||USA|
|DNF||17||PETROV, Spencer||CANNONDALE P/B CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM||USA|
|DNF||42||BRIOSCHI, Corey||THENORTHHUB P/B BOLTON TIRE||CAN|