Last year, Don Myrah had his National Championship hunt derailed by a flat tire in Reno. Fortunately for the four-time Elite national champion, December Nationals in Lousiville gave him a chance for redemption in the same calendar year.
"I wanted some redemption, I looked at the lap times [from Reno]. I was like a minute down after the first lap, it was kind of frustrating," Myrah said. "I put a lot of pressure (on myself) to try and get this one today."
Midway through the first lap of the Masters 50-54 race, Myrah was in a good spot, off the front with Roger Aspholm (Finkraft Cycling Team) and Tim Faia (Trek Cyclocross Collective). The three traded blows, and at the end of three laps, Myrah and Aspholm were the two riders at the front locked in a two-man duel.
The duo traded leads into the last lap, with Aspholm taking an early lead heading into the bowl in the bell lap. Undeterred, Myrah clawed back and then made contact on the second climb on the far side of the course.
Myrah was the first up the still-rideable climb to Pit 2 and held his ground for the winning margin.
"I did what I had to do and gave it everything I had left up that climb and held him off," Myrah said. "It was a good day."
A Duel for the Ages
The Masters 50-54 race got a few late-morning sprinkles, but the course was largely spared the mud soon to come in the afternoon.
The fast starters in the Masters 50-54 race were Aspholm and Faia, with the two dropping into the bowl first and hitting the limestone stairs with a lead on a chase group of three. Myrah used the climbs and descents in the bowl to bridge up to the two leaders to create a group of three at the front.
The experienced trio did not wait around, with Aspholm pushing the pace early in Lap 2 and getting a small gap on the other two. Myrah snuffed the move out with his skill through the chicanes and took over the lead on the second climb.
After the climb, it was Faia's turn to go to the front. It was already an eventful first two laps.
Faia was unable to hold his move at the beginning of Lap 3, and by the midway point of the lap and race, Aspholm and Myrah were off the front. Their lead on Faia was 11 seconds at two to go.
The fourth lap played to a draw, setting up an exciting last lap with the Masters 50-54 title and potential redemption on the line.
Aspholm made the first move, earning a four-second advantage at the bottom of the first descent into the bowl. Myrah again used the chicanes to his advantage and then finally made the catch on the second climb. As the two ran up to the top, Myrah moved into the lead. A thrilling final climb up to Pit 2 awaited.
Myrah kept the lead spot at the top of the climb. He powered past the pit and back to the barriers with a small lead. He held on and sprinted down the finishing straight, Reno redemption in hand.
"I noticed on the downhill sections to the last climb that I was a little faster through the corners," Myrah said. "I knew I needed to be in the lead going into that last climb because Roger was getting a little better traction going up the hill. I wanted to be in front."
"Roger really made me work for it, I wasn't sure I was going to have it," Myrah concluded.
Aspholm took second, just seconds behind Myrah, and Faia rounded out the podium in third.
For more from the Masters 50-54 race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Don Myrah: Winner Interview