As the clichéd saying goes, On Any Given Sunday, a new contender can emerge, athletes can turn around their fortunes and success and defeat are up for grabs.
At Harbin Park, any contender disappointed with his ride on Saturday had a clean slate, clean kit and relatively clean course to attempt a do-over.
After having what his coach Chris McGovern simply described as a “bad day,” Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label) put laps on the Harbin Park course since Sunday morning, hoping to wear in new tracks that would lead back to the podium on Sunday.
Kerry Werner (Kona) found Saturday’s slogfest and its required slow cadence to be a shock to his legs and looked to feel more at home in a faster-paced race.
Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), who finished fifth on Saturday, arrived ready to show his old mentor, cyclocross legend Frank McCormack, who made the trip to Ohio, that he was ready to continue a New England dominance of cyclocross.
The Harbin Train Leaves Early
Ask Saturday’s podium finishers before the race, and they would have likely been content with an identical podium, and after just a few turns, it was clear that Stephen Hyde (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Aspire teammates Spencer Petrov and Jeremy Powers intended to keep those steps.
The three sat comfortably in the top ten, while Werner secured the holeshot and then Ortenblad slipped past to take control.
Pack racing looked to be on tap, and on lap two, Petrov towed a group of ten that had the main contenders plus a few Sunday standouts, including Eric Brunner (evol) and Cooper Willsey (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld Devo).
Lap by lap, riders popped off, and some of them, unexpectedly. Two fast starters in Ortenblad, after featuring at the front, faded back, as did U23 National Champion Lance Haidet (Donnelly Sports).
Taking their place were a steadily surging Travis Livermon (Maxxis Shimano) and Hector Fernando Riveros Paez (NoTubes). However, as the two were making their way into the top ten, the top two were leaving.
Hyde and Hecht at Harbin
With half a race remaining, Hyde had enough of following wheels. The National Champion took to the front and attacked a series of turns through the trees, hoping he’d soon be out of sight. Petrov and White led the chase, but it was none other than former Junior National Champion Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle – Grove Subaru) firmly planted on Hyde’s wheel.
After attempting to shed what initially could be seen as dead weight, Hyde realized Hecht was not fighting above his weight class and intended to go all the rounds for the next thirty minutes with the National Champion.
“I tried to move almost every lap, if I’m going to be very honest,” said Hyde. “He was very hard to shake. That was a hard race. I really had to dig deep to get that.”
The two traded pulls and left the others scrambling to keep the leaders in sight, but it was no use. Soon the two had thirty seconds in hand and started to plan their final attack.
Hyde said the key on the afternoon was to keep the train rolling. “It was slick but it was really like a momentum course,” he said. “It wasn’t about big accelerations and hard braking. It was about keeping momentum.”
Two Ways to Hardin Happiness
Hyde held the US Cup-CX lead heading into Sunday’s race, but for him, the goal is still grabbing the top podium spot each day. “I still just want to win the races. [The US Cup-CX series] is just a plus,” he said “I’m here to win the races. I’m not resting.”
Hecht was happy he was able to keep the defending National Champion’s wheel. “I used a lot of the skills I gained on the road this year with Aevolo. Just trying to focus and make no mistakes while on Hyde’s wheel,” he said.
Hecht, excited with his surprising ride, could be forgiven for being resigned to the inevitable, but turn after turn, climb after climb, the Colorado racer let Hyde know he wasn’t content to just come along for the ride, and matched each surge by Hyde. Could Hecht go the distance?
Officials unintentionally did their part to help, calculating a lap count that would have the two finish around 58 minutes.
On the final lap, Hyde tried once more. Climbing back up to the logs, he suddenly had four seconds in hand—his largest gap of the day—and descending to the sand pit, it was six.
As he saw Hyde ride away, Hecht couldn’t fake greed. He was beyond pleased with his second-place ride and finally let up.
“Coming into that last lap, I don’t think I had anything left to try and follow him around,” said Hecht after the race. “He just got the best of me coming up one of those hills. He deserved the win today. I felt really excited about how I did. I was ecstatic to be where I was most of the race.”
Hyde repeated his Day 1 victory and strengthened his grip on the US Cup-CX lead.
Hecht crossed the line close behind. Just like Hyde, he was happy at Harbin.
White outlasted Werner and Driscoll to take third.
Jonathan Page raced what might be his final UCI race of his career, finishing in 23rd place. After the race, he was packing up his equipment with Frank McCormack.
While most racers used matching tires, Ortenblad opted for an MXP rear and PDX front. Hyde ran a Challenge Baby Limus up front and a Grifo in the back.
Petrov was seen shaking his head after bonking late in the race and falling back dramatically. Stay tuned for our interview with the young star.
Eric Brunner (Evol Racing) had a breakout ride, finishing sixth.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the 2017 Cincinnati Cyclocross weekend.
Men's Results - 2017 Cincinnati Cyclocross Day 2 - Harbin Park
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Time|
|9||18||RIVEROS PAEZ||Hector Fernando||1:00:10|