For today’s Throwback Thursday, we go back 16 years to Poprad. In our pre-Worlds interview with Gage Hecht, the current Junior called Matt Kelly’s ride in 1999 one of his inspirations of what Americans could achieve at the highest level. Hecht even watches the event from time to time on a saved VCR of his father’s.
Three Americans have stood on the Junior podium at Worlds, and while Kelly was the first to accomplish this feat, he is also the only American in any division of cyclocross to know how it feels to wear the rainbow-stripped jersey. In the same year, Tim Johnson was able to take the final step on the podium when he took third place in the U23 race.
The video above, posted on YouTube by Wesley VDB, shows the full race from 1999, with Poprad bathed in ice and snow, forcing riders to dismount and ride more often than they might have liked. Despite losing ground on the barriers, Kelly would go on to show off his talents in the frigid conditions for a great win.