There are few things better in athletics than when hard work pays off.
Knowing the 2019 Lakewood Cyclocross Nationals course would likely include a good amount of running, New York's Miles Mattern (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld Devo) spent his summer working the skill.
"Sometimes I'll run during the week," he said. "Sometimes I'll run up bleacher steps because I knew they would be some long run-ups here that would be tough."
Mattern started Saturday's Championship racing by ripping out to the holeshot and leading the Junior Men 13-14 field toward the first steep hill.
"I thought I would try to get away at the start. I think the big factor was the run-up right at the start that was hard. I was trying to get away and then hold the lead until the end," Mattern said after the race.
Mattern stayed on the gas up the first run-up, and when he dropped down the first descent, Nathan Sobol (RAD p/b CycleU) joined him with a small gap off the front. Behind the two leaders, Grayson Hauck (Gotham Cyclists), Oliver Snydal (Kelly Benefit Strategies / LSV), Liam Ellis (Boulder Junior Cycling) and Benjamin Bravman (GBX) led the chase.
Mattern and Sobol hit the second run-up together, but up the hill and during the short part at the top, the New Yorker got a gap on Sobol. At the bottom of the second chute descent, Mattern's lead was up to 8 seconds. A group of five riders sat a decent way back chasing for third.
By the end of the first lap, the front of the race started to shape up, with Mattern leading Sobol by 15 seconds. Ryan Drummond (Oklahoma Flyers) moved up into 3rd, 29 seconds back, and defending Junior Men 11-12 champ George Frazier (Merlin Metalworks) sat a bit further back.
In the second lap, Mattern stretched his lead after the first run-up and descent and Sobol held onto second. Behind those two, Frazier and Drummond joined up to form a chase for third.
At the top of the second descent in Lap 2, Sobol suffered a flat tire that dropped him back off the pace of the chase group. At the end of Lap 2, Mattern led by 1:12, and Frazier and Drummond crossed together to form the new chase.
"Put the power down in the straightaways, but don't make any mistakes because the descents can be hard to handle," Mattern said about keeping the lead steady.
In the final lap, Mattern held his advantage up over a minute and kept things smooth to take home the win and the Stars-and-Stripes jersey.
"It feels good that all the work paid off, and it feels good to get a National Championship after putting all that hard work in," Mattern said.
On the first run-up of the last lap, Frazier got a gap on Drummond to take over solo second. He held it the rest of the way to take the silver.
Drummond had third in control until a dropped chain forced him to stop for several seconds to put it back on. He went on to finish fourth. Sobol came back to take third. Zane Strait (Cascadia Junior Cycling) rounded out the wide-angle podium.
For more from the Junior Men 13-14 race, see the winner interview, photo gallery and results below.
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Miles Mattern: Junior Men 13-14 National Champion, 2019 Lakewood Cyclocross Nationals