It may seem trite to say, but it's not how you start in a cyclocross race, it's how you finish.
Jay Trojan's (Arc En Ciel Racing Team) ride on Wednesday in the Men's Masters 60-64 race is a perfect example of that old adage.
The fast starter in the Masters 60-64 race was Kevin Callahan (Cycle Lodge), who ripped out from the holeshot and held a 17-second lead on a group of four after the first lap.
Callahan's lead evaporated in the third lap, and then it was Phillip Kenealy's turn to take over the lead. Kenealy took a six-second lead with just two laps to go.
Lurking behind the two leaders was Trojan, who was biding his time to make a move. Trojan stepped up in Lap 4 and made the catch of Kenealy at the top of the last climb out of the bowl.
The stage was set for an exciting climax to the first day of championship racing in Louisville.
The race between Trojan and Kenealy ultimately came down to the muddy off-camber before the limestone stairs. Trojan rode the final steep incline while Kenealy had to dismount and run. Staying on the bike gave Trojan a several-second gap he would not relinquish.
Trojan powered through the last half lap to take home the Masters 60-64 Stars-and-Stripes.
"I just hung in there, I guess, it was a battle for sure," Trojan said about the race. "They shocked me, how strong they were riding."
An Exciting End to the Day's Racing
With a nice field of 69 riders, getting out to a fast start was a must for success. A large group of riders stayed together for the first part of the first lap before Kevin Callahan went solo off the front after the stairs and ensuing descent.
One lap into the race, Callahan had a 17-second lead on the rest of the field. Behind him, Bob Downs (A. Dugast), Trojan, Kenealy and Brad Young (No. 22 CX Team) gathered to give chase.
For the next lap, Callahan held his lead steady and maintained a 10+ second advantage after two of five laps.
In the middle part of the race, things started to shake up.
In Lap 3, Kenealy escaped the chase and bridged to join Callaghan. Kenealy made the catch on the final climb from the bowl and then kept going off the front by himself. Three laps in, he now held a six-second advantage on Callahan, Trojan and Joseph Brubaker (KUHL Cycling Team).
With two laps to go, there was still plenty of time for things to change again.
In the penultimate lap, Trojan followed Kenealy's lead and made his play to join the race leader. Trojan completed his bridge on the final climb, just like Kenealy did the lap before. Trojan pitted at the top of the climb, so even though he made the catch, Kenealy still carried a five-second advantage into the final lap.
"Every lap I moved up," Trojan said. "It took me a whole lap to move up one spot. By five laps, boom, took the lead from Phil. I guess he was at his limit too."
Trojan had another burst in him before reaching the flyover, and he again joined Kenealy as they dropped into the bowl.
Trojan took the lead into the off-camber, and then the moment of the race occurred. Trojan stayed on his bike through the off-camber and up the steep right-hand exit. Kenealy dismounted and ran to remount. Trojan got a several-second advantage from staying on the bike. It would prove to be all he needed to win.
"It started with the sand pit, he jumped off and started running and I actually muscled through it that last lap, which I was happy to be able to float on that," Trojan said. "I rode his wheel and once we got to the off-camber, I was able to ride that, and that was the gap. That was the juice I needed."
The Rhode Island native completed his comeback and stayed perfect through the last half lap to take home the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
Kenealy took second and Callahan stayed strong at the end to capture the bronze.
Winner interview, photos and results are below.
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