Reno might not be Durango, Colorado, but on Wednesday in the Collegiate Varsity race, it felt like home for Fort Lewis’ Henry Nadell and Stephan Davoust. The two Skyhawks got off the front midway through the race and then used textbook teamwork to cut into the blustery headwind and expand their gap on a duo of Marian chasers.
“It was just like any Durango race we do,” said Davoust about his time off the front with Nadell. “We’re always riding together and having a good teammate there to ride with makes it that much more fun. You just race better when you’re having fun.”
Early in the race, Fort Lewis’ teamwork-makes-the dream-work afternoon looked unlikely. Nadell started hot and was joined by Cade Bickmore (Marian) and defending champion Brannan Fix (Colorado Mesa) off the front. It was not until the back half of the third lap, on the technical climb and descent, that Nadell dropped his companions and Davoust joined him at the front.
Caleb Swartz (Marian) joined Bickmore for a chase of the two Fort Lewis leaders, but Nadell and Davoust had too much horsepower for the Knights and expanded their lead. Nadell led the way through the technical section in the last lap and got a leg up on Davoust in the finishing sprint to take the win.
Based on their respective celebrations, both Skyhawks were pleased with their Wednesday morning ride.
Leaders and Chasers
After the Collegiate Club race evolved into a splintered, solo affair at the front, the Varsity race took more of a group vibe early on.
A lead trio of Nadell, Bickmore and Fix was fixing to get off the front, and a chase of four headed up by Swartz formed behind them. Midway through the second lap, the chase dwindled to Nadell’s teammate Davoust and Swartz, while the lead trio worked to keep them away. If it were a crit, Swartz and Davoust would likely have been content having teammates in the break. However, this is cyclocross, and there was plenty of racing left to go.
The biggest shakeup in the race occurred in the third lap. The approximately eight-minute circuit started with Fix falling off the pace of the lead three. The course at Rancho San Rafael Park features a loooong false flat grind up toward the Podium Pavilion that took riders straight into a strong headwind on Wednesday. Falling off the pace could be deadly for a rider in a group.
Fix learned this the hard way and started to fall back. At the same time, Swartz and Davoust started to close the gap to the leaders. Things were on the move.
The next big shakeup, and the ultimate selection, occurred in the back half of the third lap that featured the technical climb and descent. Nadell escaped from Bickmore and Davoust used his spinning skills on the climb and mountain bike prowess on the descents to leapfrog into second. At the end of the third lap, Nadell and Davoust were reunited with a ten-second lead on the other riders.
“I was just trying to get the two guys away,” said Nadell. “And I knew Stephan was strong enough to come up. I was like, I gotta get rid of everyone with me, Stephan’s coming up and we’re bringing it home.”
Davoust said Nadell’s faith in him paid off. “I used my mountain bike skills on the climb and the descent on the back to move up. I could probably make up 5-10 seconds on those descents.”
Teamwork, Dream Work, Etc.
With half the race left to go, Nadell and Davoust were right where they wanted to be. After passing over the Little Loenhout ditch, through the sand and up the Belgian steps, the two Skyhawks doubled their lead back to third. Behind them, two Marian riders in Swartz and Cade Bickmore gave chase.
Did knowing it was Fort Lewis vs. Marian motivate Nadell and Davoust? “Oh yeah,” said Nadell. “Coming out and knowing you’re racing not just for yourself but also for the team [was a motivation],” Davoust added.
The motivation worked and the two extended their gap in the fifth lap. Nadell was a little stronger on the power sections and then Davoust excelled on the technical features. With one to go, the two were together.
The same script played out for the the Fort Lewis duo in the sixth and final lap. Nadell opened up a gap at pit two, but Davout closed on the long climb in the back half of the lap. Nadell held first wheel and was the first to emerge from Jurassic Park onto the finishing straight. He had the kick to take the win, but the two were obviously excited. Nadell pointed back in homage to his teammate and Davoust returned the compliment. It was quite a way to start the week for the Fort Lewis team.
Swartz eventually gapped Bickmore and brought home a solo third.
Full results are below the video interviews.
Men Collegiate Varsity Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals
|1||234||Henry NADELL||48:58||Fort Lewis College|
|2||262||Stephan DAVOUST||49:02||Fort Lewis College|
|3||263||Caleb SWARTZ||49:40||Marian University|
|4||261||Brannan FIX||49:46||Colorado Mesa University|
|5||244||Cade BICKMORE||49:50||Marian University|
|6||254||Ben SCHMUTTE||50:01||Marian University|
|7||238||Liam EARL||50:12||Colorado Mesa University|
|8||235||Sean FINCHAM||51:00||Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta|
|9||242||Harrison BUCKLEY||51:05||Fort Lewis College|
|10||237||Skyler MACKEY||51:29||Fort Lewis College|
|11||269||Carson BECKETT||51:31||Brevard College|
|12||231||Anders NYSTROM||51:39||Marian University|
|13||259||Thomas GAUTHIER||51:51||Fort Lewis College|
|14||268||Ian MCPHERSON||52:07||Fort Lewis College|
|15||230||Scott MCGILL||53:17||Brevard College|
|16||258||Tyler ORSCHEL||53:19||Brevard College|
|17||272||Herman LARSSON||53:34||Colorado Mesa University|
|18||275||Evan HARTIG||53:38||Lindenwood University|
|19||276||Jonah MEADVANCORT||54:12||Lindenwood University|
|20||271||Nicholas BEIRNE||54:18||Marian University|
|21||255||Andrew SPARKS||54:31||Lees-McRae College|
|22||241||Jonathan ANDERSON||54:52||Fort Lewis College|
|23||233||Walker SHAW||54:55||Brevard College|
|24||264||Dalton WALTERS||55:24||Colorado Mesa University|
|25||245||Nolan VANDERZWAAG||55:49||Lees-McRae College|
|26||251||Artur SAGAT||56:01||Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta|
|27||267||Keith MULLALY||56:06||Belmont Abbey College|
|28||265||Andrew SCARANO||56:34||Savannah College of Art and Design - Atlanta|
|29||232||Eli HOUSE||56:58||Marian University|
|30||236||Jack PERRY||57:00||Lees-McRae College|
|31||229||Sam WINTERS||57:01||Marian University|
|32||266||Ruben BACON||57:03||Milligan College|
|33||252||Caleb SMITH||58:11||Lees-McRae College|
|34||253||Zachary LOWDEN||LAP||Brevard College|
|35||243||Zachery CARMEL||LAP||Mars Hill University|
|36||256||Joe WHALLEY||LAP||Milligan College|
|37||274||Austin GOMES||LAP||Lindenwood University|
|38||257||Andrew BALDWIN||LAP||Milligan College|
|39||273||Jason COLESTOCK||LAP||Lindenwood University|
|40||227||Matthew OWEN||LAP||King University|
|41||277||Nathaniel SCHOONOVER||LAP||Lindenwood University|
|42||246||Zachary ROSS||LAP||Lees-McRae College|
|43||249||William HARDIN||LAP||Lees-McRae College|
|44||239||Kyle MINDICK||LAP||Marian University|
|45||228||Blake WILSON||LAP||Milligan College|
|46||260||Garrett SMITH||LAP||Milligan College|
|47||278||Samuel MORKAL WILLIAMS||LAP||Warren Wilson College|
|48||270||Tristin COOPER||LAP||Union College-KY|
|49||250||Ben EDWARDS||LAP||Union College-KY|
|DNF||240||Eric HUBBS||King University|