2014 - US Cyclocross National Championships Day 4

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Owen keeps rolling with 9th straight title at cyclo-cross nationals

Boulder, Colo. (Jan. 11, 2014) - The 2014 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships continued Saturday at Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, Colo., where national champions were crowned in seven divisions on the penultimate day of racing. As with Friday's racing, competitors were buffeted by wind gusts as they made their way around the challenging course.

First-year under-23 rider Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) wasted little time in asserting himself as the rider to beat in the U23 men's race. Owen, riding second wheel into the first turn, rode to the front of the race on the initial climb and did not look back in winning his ninth consecutive USA Cycling cyclo-cross national title. His win today earned Owen an automatic nomination to the contingent that will represent the United States in the U23 race at the 2014 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands, Feb. 1-2.

Owen, who earned a Stars-and-Stripes jersey at the last eight USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships as a juniors rider, successfully battled the swirling wind on his way to winning the U23 national title by 10 seconds. Owen finished his race in 49:17 while his teammate Yannick Eckmann (Boulder, Colo./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized), the defending U23 national champion, was unable to reel Owen in and finished his race in 49:27. Cody Kaiser (El Dorado Hills, Calif./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) rounded out the podium after finishing 2:22 behind Owen.

"I'm so happy to win my first jersey as a U23 and keep the streak going," Owen said. "I was very confident, very nervous, so I knew anything could happen. I knew I had the legs so I knew I could do it. It was one of the hardest ones for me."

After riding second wheel through the initial straightaway, Owen moved to the front on the initial climb and did not relinquish his top spot. Four of Owen's six laps were each completed in under 8:10 as he steadily grew his advantage on Eckmann. The 18-year-old Owen pushed his edge on the fourth and fifth laps when he was seven and five seconds faster than Eckmann. In attempt to retain his Stars-and-Stripes jersey, Eckmann was six seconds faster than Owen on the last, but it was not enough to make up the difference as Owen cruised to victory.

"This is more important to me than all of the juniors ones," Owen said of winning the jersey as a U23. "This is my first year as a U23. I knew I really needed to make a statement to keep that streak going and that's exactly what I did."

Racing on the course he built, Pete Webber (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Cycle Sport) quickly went to the front of the huge masters men's 40-44 field and then used his familiarity with the terrain to pull away for a comfortable victory in front of many friends and family, some toting huge cardboard cutouts of Webber's head. Webber bested the 132-rider field with a time of 47:38. His closest challenge came from Mark Savery (Omaha, Neb./ who spent most of the race entrenched in second position and finished 37 seconds behind the winner. Webber's teammate Brandon Dwight (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Cycle Sport) rounded out the top three finishes, crossing the line 51 seconds back.

"I think it definitely was a big advantage," said Webber about his knowledge of the course. "I know exactly where to go hard. I've ridden this course over 100 times, probably, just in the past month, test riding it, tweaking it, refining it. And I know the wind, I know the altitude and the bike handling stuff. I knew what I had to do and then it was just a question of executing it."

Webber is also pleased with how the week has been progressing and the excitement building.

"I think we had the biggest field of the week today in my age group and it's fabulous to see so many riders just loving cyclo-cross, being healthy and being out here and fighting."

Sunny Gilbert (Ballwin, Mo./Michelob Ultra-Big Shark Racing) rode into the lead group on the first lap and steadily pulled away from the chasers in winning the women's 35-39 race to capture the first national championship of her career.

With the wind picking up throughout the race, Gilbert rode into a group with Melissa Barker (Boulder, Colo./GS Boulder-Organic India), Nicole Thiemann (Philadelphia, Pa./Team CF) and Corey Coogan Cisek (Minneapolis, Minn./The Fix Studio). That group of four riders rode through the lap line together before Gilbert attacked and pulled away to win. Barker finished second after finishing 19 seconds back. Thiemann earned the bronze medal after edging Corey Coogan Cisek (Minneapolis, Minn./The Fix Studio) for third place.

"I didn't get a chance to pre-ride this morning so I just rode with the girls and saw how they were taking the lines and saw where they were," Gilbert said. "I had a little bit of an advantage on the twisties and I took it. I just made sure I went into those in front to get the line and smashed out of them."

The collegiate women also went toe-to-toe on Saturday at Valmont Bike Park, with Kaitlin Antonneau (Colorado Springs, Colo./Marian University) successfully defending her Division I title and Christina Birch (Somerville, Mass./MIT) taking the Division II crown.

Antonneau built up a sizeable lead early in the race and then seemed to go on auto pilot as she cruised to victory by more than a minute. Sofia Gomez Villafane (Durango, Colo./Fort Lewis College) finished 1:01 back to claim the silver medal while Antonneau's teammate Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif./Marian University) placed third. Gomez Villafane and Rivera both improved on last year's fourth- and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

"The first lap hurt a little bit, just with the breathing and effort," said Antonneau. "My mechanic was yelling the gaps for me so as it got bigger I kept telling myself don't go so hard because I have a big effort tomorrow. I got comfortable on the course and got some of the nerves to go away. It was super windy. Coming down the stretch it was a really big headwind. There were a few sections with tailwinds, those were nice."

Birch, runner-up last year to Erica Zaveta (Brevard, N.C./Brevard College), was able to turn the tables this year by powering through the technical sections of the course. She finished with a time of 40:02, 25 seconds faster than Zaveta and 1:25 ahead of Zaveta's teammate Allison Arensman (Rutherford College, N.C./Brevard College).

"It was a fast start and both of the Brevard ladies (Zaveta and Arensman) really kicked the pace up early and it was pretty much all I could do to hang with them up the hill the first lap," Birch said. "Then we started hitting the traffic in the DI field and I just decided to kick it and hit the technical sections hard and I think I pulled in front then and I just tried to then race the course and keep focused. The wind was a challenge, especially on the back half of the course where there isn't a lot of technical features, you were fighting the wind a lot."

After two events of the collegiate omnium, Marian University head the Division I standings with 188 points, followed by Fort Lewis with 166 and Lees-McRae College with 128. In the Division II omnium, it's Brevard College leading the way with 188 points. Ripon College holds the tiebreaker over Colorado Mesa University for second position. Both schools have accumulated 147 points through two events. The omnium concludes on Sunday with the men's races for both Division I and Division II.

In the closest race of the day, it took a photo finish for Russell Stevenson (Seattle, Wash.) to successfully defend his title in the masters men's 35-39 division. Stevenson and Jake Wells (Avon, Colo.) battled back and forth throughout the race and both turned into the home stretch neck-and-neck. But at the line it was Stevenson nipping Wells for the win in a time of 43:03.

"I figured it would be a sprint after I couldn't get rid of him (Wells)," said Stevenson. "He took a couple digs, I took a couple digs. It was going to come down to who had it out of that final corner. I didn't want it that way but that's the way it went. (The wind) was a huge factor. It was blowing people off lines. It was causing me headache upon headache and tons of mistakes. You really had to be precise on the lines, the downhills and the technical stuff. If you were off line you were in a bad place, just bouncing off of stuff and dabbing your foot out. That was me, all race, and I'm in tears with this one. I can't believe I won that. I was a mess. He (Wells) pushed me to the limit and it was great."

Steven Stefko (Fort Collins, Colo./Fort Collins Cycling Team) rode a strong race to clinch the bronze medal, 38 seconds back of the two leaders.

Justin Lindine (North Ogden, Utah/Team Redline) finally seized the national championship that has eluded him to this point in his seven-year cyclo-cross career. On his 30th birthday, Lindine finished the men's 30-34 national championship race in 49:47 to win the contest. Robert Marion (Mount Airy, N.C./Carpediem Racing) earned the silver medal after finishing the race 45 seconds after Lindine. The age group's defending national champion, Matt Shriver (Durango, Colo./Trek Cyclocross Collective) earned the bronze medal after completing the six-lap race in 50:54.

Lindine started the race fast, turning the first lap in 8:13. Shriver managed to ride with him through the opening circuit. Lindine again was the leader after two laps, but Marion was riding with him. Lindine continued to turn the fastest lap of the field. He rode away from the field on the fourth lap when he gained 23 seconds on Marion to secure his position atop the podium.

"I put a lot into the first lap hoping I would get away," Lindine said. "When I had company, I thought it would backfire. He had a small bobble just before the second set of stairs and I took advantage of that."

Sunday marks the final day of racing beginning at 9 a.m. The Division II men begin the day, followed by the DI men an hour later and the juniors men 17-18 at 11 a.m. The elite races cap the event beginning at 1:30 p.m. The elite and U23 women will race together beginning at 1 p.m. before the elite men's toe the line at 2:45 p.m.

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.

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