When the rain started coming down near the start of the Masters 45-49 race in Louisville on Friday, at least one rider viewed it as an opportunity. After all, who in the race, much less American cyclocross, has more racing experience than Adam Myerson?
"Fortunately it rained right before the start," Myerson said. "That extra technique required and knowing when to get off and run really made a big difference for me."
Even though Myerson had won the last two Masters 45-49 titles, one in treacherous conditions in Hartford and the second in a sprint in Reno, Myerson was as nervous as a rider half his age at the line. "I just was really nervous, not confident. A lot of fear. The only way for me to deal with that in the Masters is to lead from start to finish, its like, an anxiety thing."
Myerson dealt with his anxiety by ripping out to the holeshot and leading the way through the first lap of the race. Early on, Myerson was joined by Matt Davies (Full Cycle Cyclocross) and Brandon Dwight at the top of the limestone steps. By the time he slalomed through the chicane descent, Myerson's experience in messy conditions gave him a gap on the other two riders.
At the end of the first lap, Myerson had a nine-second lead on Dwight. Myerson extended the gap to 21 seconds after two laps.
The rest of the way, Myerson held Dwight 20 seconds away. Measurable, but one fall from disappearing.
After cresting the final climb, Myerson finally got a chance to relax a bit and enjoy his third-straight Masters 45-49 victory.
"I just needed every second of that gap that I had just to get to the finish," Myerson said. "It wasn't until the last lap that I finally relaxed."
Going for the Three-Peat
If Adam Myerson was nervous at the start of the Masters 45-49 race on Friday, he certainly did not show it. Myerson ripped out to the holeshot and led the massive 45-49 field out on to a course that grew muddier every second.
Myerson led through the sandpit and was the first to drop into the bowl. Midway through the descent, David Hillebrand (Trek Cyclocross Collective), who was sitting second wheel, went down, validating Myerson's decision to get out front early.
When Myerson made his way over the limestone steps, Matt Davies (Full Cycle Cyclocross) and Brandon Dwight joined him at the front. However, by the time the three got to the bottom of the chicane descent, Myerson had opened up a several second lead on the others.
Myerson mixed ride and run on the muddy climbs, and after one lap, he had a nine-second lead.
"If I can control this race from the beginning and put my stamp on it and make everyone chase me, it's not how I race the rest of the time," Myerson said about his fast start. "I like group racing, sizing my competition up and being tactical. The last couple Nationals I just have to go from the gun and see what happens."
Dwight, Davies and Paul Bonds (SPCX p/b R.K. BLACK) lined up behind Myerson to take up the chase.
The next lap, Myerson stayed on the throttle and extended his gap up to 21 seconds. Behind him, Dwight emerged as the solo chaser. The stage was set for the rest of the race.
"Once I had the gap, I backed off," Myerson said. "The middle lap, I collected myself for a second. There's no recovery on this course because whenever you're pedaling, you're pedaling as hard as you can to clean a section. With the rain, you just had to run. We're all going as hard as we can."
The third and fourth laps, Myerson and Dwight played to a draw. Myerson hit the finishing straight with a 20-second lead. A lead that was certainly a lead, but one that could easily be erased by one mistake.
Myerson described the last lap, "I was so tired on the last lap, I couldn't push my bike around in the ruts. I was forgetting what I was doing. I just felt delirious had to snap out of it and go back and find the good lines I had been taking and just collect myself. I just needed every second of that gap that I had just to get to the finish."
When Myerson crested the last climb, with only the long boulevard and barriers left to go, he allowed himself a moment to enjoy his third-straight title.
"The jersey is the 'one ring.' Once you get the jersey, you want to keep it," Myerson said. You'll do anything you can to keep it. It's really special. A real privilege. I don't want to imagine going back to racing without it. I love it. I give up being good all year to be good for this race."
Dwight matched Myerson in each of the last three laps to take the silver. Ian Tubbs (Audi) got stronger with each lap and finished strong to take the bronze.
For more from the Masters 45-49 race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Adam Myerson: Winner Interview