For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re going back to 1995 for a bit of cyclocross history, inspired by a photo we recently scanned of cyclocross star Dale Knapp racing the snowy ’95 Cyclocross National Championships.
The 1995 National Championships were held in Leicester, Massachusetts, and were a snowy crashfest, with fresh powder covering icy corners. Nearly everyone hit the deck multiple times.
Knapp, from the Seattle, Washington area, was a perennial contender at Nationals and entered the 1995 race as one of the favorites, having won a bronze medal in 1994.
The 1995 Men’s Elite race was won by Jan Wiejak (Haro) ahead of Mark McCormack (Saturn). Behind McCormack, Knapp (Control Tech/Gregg’s Cycle) was riding in third for much of the race, trying to claw back McCormack, who was racing his first race for Saturn aboard a custom Hot Tubes bike with 700x45c Panaracer Smoke tires.
Knapp’s teammate and former USA Worlds team member Craig Undem described the tough blizzard conditions that day. “I had never raced on snow and didn’t know how to turn…neither had Dale or most of us NWers.”
Knapp had a tough last lap and was passed by Daryl Price (Team Marin) and, interestingly, Leo Windlin, hailing from Stauster, Switzerland.
Knapp was always a contender but never took the Elite title. He did take bronze twice in the Elite race, in 1994 as previously mentioned and again in 1997, represented the USA at Worlds, and raced for Redline, Ellsworth and Kona during his career. While Knapp didn’t win the Elite title, he did take the stars and stripes jersey in 2005 in the Masters Men 40-44 race.
The Knapp name’s presence in cyclocross extended beyond Dale. Knapp and fellow Seattleite racer and Worlds team member Anne Grande became close and would eventually marry. Anne Grande went on to win the wettest Nationals on record, in 2002 in Napa, and by doing so, became the only racer since 1997 to break the stranglehold by Alison Dunlap and Katie Compton on the Elite Women’s stars and stripes jersey. Later, known as Anne Knapp, she’d round out her medal collection with silver and bronze medals at Nationals.
Knapp and Pat Bentson were the driving forces behind Rad Racing NW, starting the team in 1998 as a Junior cycling team focused on Cyclocross. with the goal of providing young racers the opportunity to race their bicycles at the highest level in Europe. Jim Brown came on board after a couple as a sponsor and share team organization skills. What became Jim Brown’s Rad Racing development program mentored many juniors, as described in this earlier Throwback Thursday Jeremey Powers-related piece. Since then, Knapp has raced Masters through 2010 after retiring from the Elite ranks.
Richard Fries’ screams of “It’s Knapp time!” during a Dale Knapp attack are still ringing in old timers’ ears many years later.
Notes on the 1995 Cyclocross National Championships in Leceister:
- The 1995 Women’s Elite podium was winner Jan Bolland (Volvic PowerBar), who raced on a mountain bike. Shari Kain (Ritchey), who would reclaim the title the following year in 1996 over Bolland, finished second with Laurie Brandt (Ross/Jeep) in third.
- The event featured a tandem race, won by Paul Curley and his wife.
- Other notable names from 1995 include Tim Johnson, who won the Men’s Junior race after the top finisher, Damon Kluck, was disqualified for failing the gearing roll out. 1995 was the last year Junior gear restrictions were in place for cyclocross.
- Legend Lawrence Malone (our Issue 15 cover boy) made the race, and missed the Men’s 35+ podium by 12 seconds in a race won by Matt Van Enkevort, Knapp’s teammate.
- Multi-time Masters National Champions Kathy Sarvary and Dan Norton won their categories, taking the Masters Women and Masters Men 45+ races, respectively.
Andrew Yee contributed to this report and raced and spectated at the 1995 Nationals.