BOULDER, Colo. — Very mild weather was the story of the day on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The Alfalfa’s Eldora US Open of Cyclocross returned to Valmont Bike Park for a weekend of Category 2 UCI races for Elite Women and Elite Men, now managed by Sanitas Cycling. As the only Colorado races for USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) points and rankings, the US Open event was stacked with young talent from Western states.
Sofia Gomez Villafane (Argentina/Pivot Maxxis pb Stan’s DNA Cycling) set the early pace in the Elite Women’s C2 race on Saturday. She was aiming for her second podium of the ProCX season, having won third at the C1 RenoCross event in Nevada in September.
Among the 36 riders in field who took off with Villafane early were 17- year-old Katie Clouse (Park City, Utah/Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru), Sunny Gilbert (Ellisville, Mo./Van Dessel Factory Team), Sarah Sturm (Durango, Colo./Specialized/ Ten Speed Hero), and 21-year-old Clara Honsinger (Portland, Ore./Team S&M CX).
The first lap had not been completed and there was a big crash in the field, taking out Caroline Mani (Caroline Mani (Besancon, France/Van Dessel Factory Team), who is fifth overall in ProCX standings for women. She would not finish the race.
At the front of the race, Villafane maintained a slim three-second edge over Honsinger. Gilbert had dropped back another 10 seconds and Clouse was holding fourth position.
It was on lap four of seven that Honsinger started to create distance at the front. With one lap to go she had a built her lead to 26 seconds. In the end, she crossed solo at the finish for the win in a time of 46 minutes, 19 seconds for a 34- second margin of victory over Gilbert.
“Oh man, it was hot,” said Honsinger about the sunshine making the 65-degree day seem warmer than usual for fall. “It’s higher elevation, and at the end of a long block (of racing). Coming from the gun, I was just trying to monitor the effort. But it paid off.”
Villafane battled with Gilbert for the podium, but with two to go she faded to third, and finished 12 seconds behind Gilbert. Clouse would follow 13 seconds later for a solid fourth place finish.
A 47-rider field took to the dusty course at the end of the day for the Elite Men. It would be Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Alpha Bicycle Co./ Groove Subaru), Eric Brunner (Boulder, Colo./Full Cycle Cyclocross Team), Lance Haidet (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Donnelly Sports) and Cody Kaiser (El Dorado Hills, Calif./LangeTwins / Specialized) surging to the front after the holeshot at Valmont Bike Park.
Hecht, 20 years old, would push the pace and create a gap to the chasers after the first three of 11 laps. No one closed the gap to Hecht, who would win his first ProCX title of the season in a time of 1 hour, 5 minutes, 7 seconds.
“It was really fun. I like having some open roads in front of me,” said Hecht, who won two U23 national titles in 2018 (criterium and time trial). “It was a good day and I’m really happy with it.”
Brunner and Haidet matched the pace set by Hecht for the first few laps, with Kaiser dropping back for a solo fourth place. On lap five, Hecht had a 13-second lead over Haidet, and a 21-second gap to Brunner. That would be the order of finish at the end of the contest, with Haidet crossing the line 33 seconds after Hecht.
Brunner would finish another 20 seconds later to secure third. Kaiser would hold on for fourth.
“There was really good competition out there,” added Hecht. “Lance (Haidet) was keeping me honest the entire race. Eric (Brunner) was with me the entire first three laps and really pushing me.”
UCI Category 2 races will be held again on Sunday at Valmont Bike Park for the elite women and men. ProCX races will also continue Sunday in New England for the CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester. Races are part of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart.
The USA Cycling American Cyclocross Calendar (ACXC) will make a second stop for the season Oct. 13-14 in Memphis, Tenn. for the Tri-Star CX. This two-day event takes place at the popular Shelby Farms Park, which boasts 4,500 acres of green space, 40-plus miles of trails, and more than 20 lakes. It is managed by the nonprofit Shelby Farms Park Conservancy. This is the second year Tri-Star CX has been part of the ACXC.
2018 US Open of CX Day 1 Full Results - Elite Women - UCI C2
|3||104||Sofia GOMEZ VILLAFANE||0:47:06||25|
|12||108||Beth Ann ORTON||0:49:53||38|
2018 US Open of CX Day 1 Full Results - Elite Men - UCI C2