Gage Hecht's (Donnelly / Aevolo) name is one that has long been synonymous with success at Cyclocross Nationals. Hecht won his first Junior Nationals in 2009 at age 12, and he then went on to win a total of 6 during his Junior career.
Despite all his success at the biggest race in U.S. Cyclocross, one might be surprised to learn that coming into Sunday's Elite Championship in Lakewood, Hecht had not taken a Stars-and-Stripes jersey home since the 2016 Asheville Nationals.
That is not to say Hecht has not raced well at Nats. At Hartford Nationals, Hecht took 2nd in the bonkers U23 Men's race in his first year of eligibility, and a flat marred his ride at Reno Nationals in 2018. Last year, Hecht decided to step up and race the Elites, where he took home a third-place finish.
This year, Hecht entered Nationals as a race favorite along with Elite riders such as Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano).
Still just 20 years-old, Hecht showed he was not afraid of the challenge, getting off to a fast start and holding off the Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld duo to capture his first Elite Nationals win and first red, white and blue jersey in nearly four years.
"I haven’t won a national title in, I think this is four years now since I won my last ’cross title, Hecht said. "It’s really exciting to get it, especially in the Elites."
Hecht's bike for his winning ride was the carbon Donnelly C//C he and Donnely / Aevolo teammate Lance Haidet rode this season. We checked out Hecht's bike right after his title ride.
Gage Hecht's 2019 Elite Nationals Winning Donnelly C//C Bike
Long known for its tires marketed under the Clement—and now Donnelly—brand, Colorado-based Donnelly decided to shred into the off-road bike market in 2018.
Donnelly faced a choice between producing one bike that could do gravel and cyclocross ala the Pivot Vault or Santa Cruz Stigmata or doing a cyclocross-specific bike and a gravel-specific bike.
The company opted to go the latter route, with the carbon C//C designed as a ’cross-specific ripper. We recently reviewed the C//C, and we also profiled Hecht's bike earlier this season.
Course designer Rich McClung said the ground at Fort Steilacoom Park drains well, and that proved to be the case in Sunday's race, as the mud was gritty but thin and did not pack up very much. Hecht made the decision to not pit during the race, a decision he described as "gutsy."
Notable about Hecht's bike vis-a-vis our profile from earlier this year is that Bart Simpson was back on board for Hecht's title ride. Hecht has had the small figurine mounted at the top of his fork dating back to his days of riding the Moots Psychlo-X for the Alpha Bicycles - Groove Subaru team, but the small Bart was not yet on Hecht's new bike at the beginning of the season.
Although tubeless is growing in popularity, Sunday's National Champs in Lakewood were all on tubulars. Hecht and Haidet have run the new Donnelly PDX WC tubeless mud tread at races this season, but for his Nationals ride, Hecht stuck with PDX tubulars.
He mounted the tires to Vision Metron 40 SL carbon tubular wheels. The 40mm-deep wheelset has a claimed weight of a rather svelte 1,330g.
Hecht switched his drivetrain up from when we saw his bike in September. Earlier this year, he ran a full 1x Shimano GRX drivetrain with the RX810-1 crankset and 42t chain ring and RX815 rear derailleur. For Nationals, he took a mix-and-match approach in running a double.
Hecht's crankset featured a 175mm Ultegra R8000 drive-side crank with an older-model left Dura-Ace R9000 crank arm with a Stages power meter.
Hecht mounted 46/36t Ultegra rings to the drive side and included an Ultegra R8050 front derailleur.
He paired the front with a GRX RX815 clutch rear derailleur that shifted across an 11-32t Ultegra cassette.
Hecht paired his GRX RX810 flat mount disc brakes with the GRX RX815 dual-control levers up front.
Hecht's cockpit again came from Full Speed Ahead. He ran a carbon SL-K Compact handlebar held by an alloy Energy stem.
In the rear, a carbon SL-K seatpost held his Selle SMP Blaster saddle. Crankbrothers Candy 11 pedals rounded out his contact points.
Hecht now heads off to Europe with his Donnelly C//C for World Cup Namur and Kerstperiode racing.
For a closer look at Hecht's title-winning bike, see the photo gallery and specs below.