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.
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.
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.
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.
Masters 35-39 Results: 2018 Reno Cyclocross Nationals
|1||233||DAY||Kevin||Team Endurance 360||Farmington UT||47:32|
|2||248||THOMPSON||Caleb||Bicycle Racing Association of C||Bayfield CO||47:39||7|
|3||252||TRUX||Mitchell||Portland Titanium||Portland OR||47:43||11|
|4||226||DRUMMOND||Chris||SPCX p/b R.K. BLACK||Tulsa OK||47:54||22|
|5||265||WHITNEY||Josh||Salt Lake City UT||48:38||1:06|
|6||260||BOUCHARD-HALL||Kevin||Team Placid Planet||Wadhams NY||48:55||1:23|
|7||246||COE||Andrew||Portland Titanium||Portland OR||49:01||1:29|
|8||261||CHAPIN||Scott||Santa Cruz Factory Racing||Santa Cruz CA||49:05||1:33|
|9||249||GRITTERS||Brandon||Southern California Nevada Cycl||Dana Point CA||49:29||1:57|
|10||268||FLIS||Mark||Squadra Flying Tigers||Park City UT||49:50||2:18|
|11||240||FOSSELL||Eric||COS Racing||Colorado Springs CO||49:54||2:22|
|14||242||ROTHE||Stefan||787 Racing||Austin TX||50:30||2:58|
|15||247||WULFKUHLE||Andrew||717 Cycling club||Lancaster PA||50:32||3:00|
|17||259||DEPPE||Bruce||Utah Cycling Association||Salt Lake City UT||51:02||3:30|
|18||254||RINN||Ryan||San Francisco CA||51:29||3:57|
|19||232||IAIA||William||Groove Subaru Excel Sports||Littleton CO||43:03||@1Lap|
|20||253||ALLEN||William||Feedback Sports Racing||Golden CO||43:07||@1Lap|
|21||238||DAKIN||Christopher||Air Assurance Devo P/b Spoke Ho Bixby OK||43:26||@1Lap|
|23||236||SHARKEY||Mike||Rally Sport Cycling Team||Broomfield CO||44:25||@1Lap|
|24||266||MONGAN||David||San Francisco CA||44:31||@1Lap|
|26||244||DIONNE||Lance||CS Velo||Gladwyne PA||46:11||@1Lap|
|27||237||WOOD||Jim||HiFi Sound Cycling Componets||Hood River OR||46:27||@1Lap|
|28||234||WARBURTON||William||Bend Endurance Academy||Bend OR||46:30||@1Lap|
|29||229||PICKELS||Robert||Boulder Junior Cycling||Boulder CO||46:46||@1Lap|
|31||235||CLAASSEN||Clinton||Northern California/Nevada Cycl El Dorado Hills CA||46:52||@1Lap|
|32||251||GESLANI||Van||Dons Bikes||Loma Linda CA||47:01||@1Lap|
|33||245||LEIZINGER||Matt||All-City X Fulton Racing||Richfield MN||47:20||@1Lap|
|35||264||HODGES III||Clinton||Anchorage AK||47:26||@1Lap|
|36||239||DODGE||Ben||SunPower Racing||San Jose CA||48:20||@1Lap|
|38||250||BILLINGS||Brett||Groove Subaru Excel Sports||Colorado Springs CO||52:52||@1Lap|
|39||269||WILMETH||John||Cantu Cycling Wheels||Newwaverly TX||44:21||@2Laps|
|DNF||257||MCALLISTER||John||UCI CT: Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling||Weatherford 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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