USAC Press Release
Masters racers show their mettle on second day of cyclo-cross nationals
Boulder, Colo. (Jan. 9, 2014) - Fourteen Stars-and-Stripes jerseys were donned Thursday as masters divisions ruled the second day of racing at the 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships held at Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colo. The podium finishers for the final four divisions of the day had their medals presented by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to cap off another exciting day of racing.
Photo Credit: Sportif Images
Newly-crowned world champion Henry Kramer (Menlo Park, Calif./California Giant Cycling) showed off his rainbow jersey along with world championship form in taking his first national title in the men's 55-59 division. Kramer found himself in a three-way battle with teammate Norman Kreiss (Orinda, Calif./California Giant Cycling) and Karl Kiester (Denver, Colo./Great Divide Brewing Company) for the entire race, but was able to nip Kreiss at the line to claim the national title. Kiester rolled across in third place, 10 seconds back of the leaders.
"It was very difficult," said Kramer of the race. "I had a terrible start. I got behind some traffic and got shoved out of the way a few times, but I was patient and when I had a chance, especially on the straightaways and hills, I tried to make some aggressive moves. I got to the front on the last lap, finally, and then my teammate (Kreiss) and I were able to pull away a little bit. He made a couple of mistakes and I kept it really clean on the last lap. The gears weren't shifting because nobody took a bike change, but I was able to win it. I was happy with the way things went in the altitude too. I'm a sea-level guy and there's a lot of Coloradans here. I had to take two breaths when they took one, but it worked out pretty well."
Kramer also found the course at Valmont Bike Park to be a skill-testing challenge.
"This was super technical. (The course at) Worlds (in Switzerland) was a very fair course. Here it was hard to find the spots to really put it down. The trick was to not only put it down where it was obvious, in the straightaway, but nail it in some of these off-camber sections where you really had to dig into your pedals a bit. All it takes is a couple of slips. The last two laps are where you win it, not the first two."
Nina Baum (Albuquerque, N.M.) rode to victory in the masters women's 40-44 race, crossing the line with a time of 42:58. A former professional mountain biker, Baum used those skills to distance herself from the rest of the field on the very technical course.
"The course was just awesome," said a beaming Baum. "It had some topography, but I cannot ride on the flats to save my life so I needed some hills, and I liked having some technical stuff on the downhills. I don't feel like I was riding that great but I need that, I can't race cyclo-cross on a flat course so this was perfect for me. Add a little mud and I'm all about it."
Christina Gokey-Smith (Denton, Texas/Colonel's - Sho-Air) turned in a fantastic race to place second, 28 seconds behind Baum, while Catherine Moore (Waco, Texas/Squadra Di Servitori) earned the bronze medal, 1:05 behind the winner.
The women's 45-49 race started as a two-rider contest before Karen Hogan (Louisville, Colo./Team Kappius) rode away with the gold medal. Hogan and Margell Abel (Boulder, Colo./Natural Grocers Cycling Team) were together until they reached the stairs on their second lap. Hogan was able to open a gap on Abel and did not relinquish her advantage as she won the race by 38 seconds. Tracy Yates (Arvada, Colo./Tough Girl Cycling) edged Laura Trace (Portland, Ore.) in a sprint for third place.
"The course was so technical, which suits me better," Hogan said. "I thought riding alone would be my preference. That way, you don't have to worry about someone not technically making a turn or a run up. I was hoping to be myself."
Despite an early hiccup and a flat tire on the second lap, Anne Trombley (Nederland, Colo.), who is a former professional cross-country mountain biker, rode away with the top prize in the women's 50-54 race. The race started one minute after the 45-49 competitors and Trombley passed all but Hogan and Abel during the race. In the end, Trombley finished her three laps in 32:56. Her closest competitor, Leann Storino (Carlsbad, Calif./Celo Pacific), finished 1:02 behind Trombley. Michele Bliss (Boulder, Colo./Team Small Batch) earned the bronze medal after finishing 2:31 behind Trombley.
"On the first lap, a gal in my age group passed me," Trombley said. "That really put a fire under me. I just kept going. I was hoping to win. You just don't know. A big part of cyclo-cross is your equipment. I flatted on the second lap. Luckily, I had a bike in the pit."
Hardwick Gregg (Helena, Ala./Birmingham Velo) captured the first race of the day in the men's 60-64 division, pulling away on the final lap for the win.
"I'm just shocked," said a pleased Gregg after the race. "I can't believe we were racing for first."
Gregg and Douglas Long (Chillicothe, Mo./360 Racing) came through the start/finish area neck-and-neck with one lap to go, but Gregg quickly made a move on the uphill portion to try and separate himself.
"I decided to pass him going into the climb, but he didn't want to be in second so he passed me back about halfway up the climb. After that, he was going strong and I just followed him. There was one short, off-camber hill right after the barriers and we both ran it, but I rode into the hill a little bit farther and got over the snow and just punched it and ran past him to get a bike length ahead of him, got back in the pedals quickly and just held if from there to the finish. It was very fortunate the way it worked out for me."
Gregg crossed the line in 40:52, eight seconds ahead of Long, who upgraded from his bronze medal a year ago. Defending men's 60-64 champion Charles Townsend (Mendota Heights, Minn./NorthStar Development) came in third, 24 seconds back.
Phillip Bannister (Putney, Vt./Putney Bicycle Club) took the victory in the masters men's 65-69 championship race, pulling away for an 18-second advantage over Robert Ogrean (Bloomington, Minn./The Fix Studio). Lewis Rollins (Salt Lake City, Utah/Velosport Racing) claimed the bronze medal in the division, 1:21 back of Bannister.
Robert Llamas (Montrose, Calif./Montrose Cycling Club) took the masters men's 70-74 title, Ronald Riley (Aptos, Calif.) earned the victory in the masters men's 75-79 race, and Walter Axthelm (Durango, Colo./Durango Wheel Club) reclaimed his crown from Frederic Schmid (Waco, Texas/Bicycles Outback Racing) in the masters men's 80-and-over division, after Schmid had dethroned Axthelm last year in Verona, Wis.
Laura Howat (Salt Lake City, Utah/Ski Utah-Plan 7) capped her first year racing cyclo-cross by winning the women's 55-59 national championship. Howat passed Susan Lynch (Medfield, Mass./Bell Lap Cycling Club) on the off-camber section of the course and held on through finish line to earn the third national championship of her career. Lynch finished 19 seconds behind Howat while Kim Bear (Santa Fe, N.M./New Mexico Spokette Racing Team) rode away with the bronze medal.
"It feels great," Howat, who earned a pair of national championships in criterium races, said. "This course was so technical. I'm really glad to be in one piece. I crashed a lot on the last lap. Every time I rode it, it was different. Sometimes it was icy, this time it was muddy. You didn't know what to expect. I'm super grateful.
"She (Lynch) slid out on the run up. She was still ahead of me and I came over top of her on the side hill section. She went low and I went high. After I passed her, I was just thinking. 'Stay steady, stay steady.' I went as hard as I could on all of the fitness sections and keep just a little bit of cushion in case I bobbled again."
Frank Gonzalez (Helena, Mont./Montana Velo), who started in the fourth row of the 60-rider field, surged to the lead during the third lap and cruised to victory in the men's 50-54 national championship race. Craig Cozza (Presto, Pa./UPMC-Pro Bikes) started strong and opened a lead after the first lap of the race. Gonzalez stayed within striking distance and pounced on an opportunity on the off-camber section during the third lap of the five-lap race. Gonzalez steadily grew his lead and finished in 48:25. Cozza held off Michael Hogan (Louisville, Colo./Team Kappius) to claim third place.
"The course was really, really slick," Gonzalez said. "Pete (Webber) and those guys did a great job (designing the course). I can't imagine a better course. You have to know how to ride your bike for sure and you have to be fit. You have to be the top five fit guys."
In the women's 60-64 race, Maurine Sweeney (Highlands Ranch, Colo./Old School Racing) topped the field after turning three laps in 36:08.
Sweeney, who was unable to compete at the 2013 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships due to a broken wrist suffered during a non-championship race, and Tove Shere (Santa Fe, N.M./Sport Systems Mountaintop Cycling) gained a lead of over one minute after one lap. The pair rode together through the lap line as they began their third and final lap. Sweeney then drilled it on the last circuit, completing it 21 seconds faster than Shere to secure the victory. Carol Ruckle (Redlands, Calif./Team Redlands) won the bronze medal, finishing the race 4:15 behind Sweeney.
Martha Iverson (Durango, Colo./K4 Racing) won a sprint finish over Julie O'Neill (Milwaukee, Wis.) to win the women's 65-69 national championship.
Julie Lockhart (Dunstable, Mass./Northeast Bicycle Club (NEBC)) secured the Stars-and-Stripes jersey after winning the women's 70-and-over race. Lockhart turned one lap in 26:37 to earn the gold medal.
The racing continues through Sunday, Jan. 12. Friday's action features two masters categories (men 45-49 and women 30-34), juniors men 9-16, juniors women 9-18, as well as the collegiate team relay.
Live Streaming of Races
Sunday's juniors men and elite men and women races will be streamed live on USA Cycling's YouTube channel beginning at 11 a.m.
For complete details on this event, including a schedule, results, course map and photo gallery, please visit the event website. If you can't make it out for the event, follow all of the action throughout the week on Twitter using the hashtag #CXNats.