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If Kevin Day is not a Led Zeppelin fan, he is after Thursday’s Masters 35-39 race at the 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals.

Day survived a tough group of four and was on the ropes a bit when Caleb Thompson unleashed an attack heading into the bell lap. Day recovered and then made his move on the Belgian Stairway to Heaven, with heaven in Reno being the top step of the podium and the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.

“It came down to the staircase on the back side,” he said. “[Thompson] was running it every lap and I was hopping it. From the top of the stairs I was able to get a little bit of a gap and punch it.”

After 40 tough minutes of racing, the open space ahead of Day gave his legs one last championship kick. His lead was eight seconds when he hit the climb at the start of the technical section and held on to capture his first career national championship.

Kevin Day celebrates his Nationals win. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Kevin Day celebrates his Nationals win. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

With his victory, Day joined an impressive list of ginger national champions that includes Stephen Hyde and Don Myrah. Day said his victory was a bit of an omen for his fellow ginger racing Sunday. “I can’t get the facial hair like [Hyde] does, it’s not in me, but it’s all about the gingers this weekend, so let’s do it Stephen.”

Banging the Drum All Day

Chris Drummond (SPCX p/b R.K. Black) of Tulsa, OK headed to the start line looking to repeat his national championship and continue the okey-dokey Oklahoma day after Brandon Melott won the Baby Masters race before his. Early on, Drummond started like a man on the mission. He hopped the Little Loenhout ditch and ripped off the front to a lead that was pushing 15 seconds halfway into the first lap.

Drummond held his lead into the second lap as the riders behind him took turns trying to bring the bright yellow-clad rider back. By the latter part of the second lap, the chase of Day, Mitchell Trux (Portland Titanium) and Caleb Thompson had materialized.

Chris Drummond got off to a fast start in Reno. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Chris Drummond got off to a fast start in Reno. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Thursday morning brought a respite in the wind that made the false flat extra grueling on Wednesday, but it was still Drummond versus three very strong riders. By the midpoint of the third lap, they had more or less brought the leader back. A bike race was a foot.

“When he got off the front, I just thought, as Chris does. I kind of thought that was it, but I was like, no, I’m here to be it. I was pumped and I felt positive I could hopefully bring it back. I think all of us really worked to bring it back together as a group.”

Punches Were Thrown

The fourth of six laps featured the four riders together. “The pace was hot, punches were thrown,” said Day about the group racing. With two to go, it was still a group of four.

The pace was hot in the lead group. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

The pace was hot in the lead group. Masters 35-39. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Inside the penultimate lap, the first half of the lap is where things started to move in the lead selection. Day and Thompson broke off the front and Trux and Drummond were resorted to chasing. With the pace hot, there was no hiding on the drying course that got faster as the morning progressed.

Things started to come back together after the descents and off-camber, but another attack helped break things up again. Thompson unleashed an attack on the start/finish straight and Day got a gap taking up the chase. Thompson had eight seconds on Day with one to go, even if it was a bit of an accident.

“I actually kind of messed up because I didn’t realize it was the last lap,” Thompson said. “It was a little early.”

Thompson’s attack proved to be a bit early. Day began to reel him in and made the catch shortly before the Belgian stairs located in the far side of the course. Thompson ran the stairs while Day hopped them. When Day accelerated out of the wooden feature, he had a gap on Thompson and the stairs became his personal Stairway to Heaven.

Once he had a gap, Day’s legs got an extra shot of adrenaline. “He was riding really good technically, I was here and there, but I figured if I could hold that gap, I could get enough energy to hold it,” Day said.

Day dug deep and found his technical legs on the climb and descent and held on to win the first Stars-and-Stripes jersey of his career.

Thompson’s consolation was an impressive second-place finish against a tough field. “It was a good feeling,” Thompson said about being up in the lead group. “I never really peaked this year, so to be up there in the lead group was amazing. I saved it all for Nationals and it was a good course.”

Trux held on and beat out Drummond to take third.

See interviews with the top finishers and race results below.

William Warburton splashes through one of the few remaining puddles on the course. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

William Warburton splashes through one of the few remaining puddles on the course. 2018 Cyclocross National Championships. © D. Mable/ Cyclocross Magazine

Masters 35-39 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals

PlaceBibLASTFirstTeamCity STTimeGap
1233DAYKevinTeam Endurance 360Farmington UT47:32
2248THOMPSONCalebBicycle Racing Association of CBayfield CO47:397
3252TRUXMitchellPortland TitaniumPortland OR47:4311
4226DRUMMONDChrisSPCX p/b R.K. BLACKTulsa OK47:5422
5265WHITNEYJoshSalt Lake City UT48:381:06
6260BOUCHARD-HALLKevinTeam Placid PlanetWadhams NY48:551:23
7246COEAndrewPortland TitaniumPortland OR49:011:29
8261CHAPINScottSanta Cruz Factory RacingSanta Cruz CA49:051:33
9249GRITTERSBrandonSouthern California Nevada CyclDana Point CA49:291:57
10268FLISMarkSquadra Flying TigersPark City UT49:502:18
11240FOSSELLEricCOS RacingColorado Springs CO49:542:22
12228OLSENDanielSeattle WA50:132:41
13241LOGANBenjaminBishop CA50:252:53
14242ROTHEStefan787 RacingAustin TX50:302:58
15247WULFKUHLEAndrew717 Cycling clubLancaster PA50:323:00
16258KELLERBreezeKennebunkport ME50:33s.t.
17259DEPPEBruceUtah Cycling AssociationSalt Lake City UT51:023:30
18254RINNRyanSan Francisco CA51:293:57
19232IAIAWilliamGroove Subaru Excel SportsLittleton CO43:03@1Lap
20253ALLENWilliamFeedback Sports RacingGolden CO43:07@1Lap
21238DAKINChristopherAir Assurance Devo P/b Spoke Ho Bixby OK43:26@1Lap
22231MCNICHOLASDylanPOLARTECStratham NH44:11@1Lap
23236SHARKEYMikeRally Sport Cycling TeamBroomfield CO44:25@1Lap
24266MONGANDavidSan Francisco CA44:31@1Lap
25230HOWRYKeythEdmond OK45:55@1Lap
26244DIONNELanceCS VeloGladwyne PA46:11@1Lap
27237WOODJimHiFi Sound Cycling ComponetsHood River OR46:27@1Lap
28234WARBURTONWilliamBend Endurance AcademyBend OR46:30@1Lap
29229PICKELSRobertBoulder Junior CyclingBoulder CO46:46@1Lap
30267JONESMatthewLayton UT46:49@1Lap
31235CLAASSENClintonNorthern California/Nevada Cycl El Dorado Hills CA46:52@1Lap
32251GESLANIVanDons BikesLoma Linda CA47:01@1Lap
33245LEIZINGERMattAll-City X Fulton RacingRichfield MN47:20@1Lap
34256JOHNSONShaneRedmond OR47:25@1Lap
35264HODGES IIIClintonAnchorage AK47:26@1Lap
36239DODGEBenSunPower RacingSan Jose CA48:20@1Lap
37227DALEYTimothyWatertown MA50:34@1Lap
38250BILLINGSBrettGroove Subaru Excel SportsColorado Springs CO52:52@1Lap
39269WILMETHJohnCantu Cycling WheelsNewwaverly TX44:21@2Laps
DNF257MCALLISTERJohnUCI CT: Elevate-KHS Pro CyclingWeatherford TX

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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