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Washington State 'Cross Championships - NE
Fort Flagler State Park, WA, USA, November 12, 2005
Knapp time at Washington State 'Cross Championships
Ann and Dale Knapp take Washington state champs at Fort Flagler
By Hyun Lee
For the second time in three years, the Washington State Cyclocross Championships came back to Fort Flagler State Park, Marrow Stone Island, on November 12. After a week of rain in Western Washington, the weather was mercifully dry for the riders who traveled to Fort Flagler Saturday. Windy conditions Saturday were magnified by Fort Flagler's location on a bluff jutting into Puget Sound. Race promoter Andy Dahlstrom put the race on with support from family, friends and local businesses on Marrowstone Island, Chimacum, and Hadlock. With the Emerald City Cyclocross Series race the next day, over a hundred racers made arrangements to spend the night in the area to make it a double weekend of cyclocross.
Riders were treated to a fast course that wound its way through the woods atop the bluffs, fast dirt descents and stiff windy conditions heading toward Puget Sound with a spectacular view of Port Townsend across the Sound that race promoter Andy Dalstrom described as "just sort of a roller coaster." When designing the course, Dalstrom tried to set up a course with "a good rhythm so people can float. I was trying to set up a course with a nice flow to it".
In the Elite Women's Championship race, Ann Knapp (Kona) took command of the race early on and strung the field out along the course. Setting a blistering pace, the only rider in site of Knapp was Kristi Berg (Bicycle Centers). With the Washington Championship secured after a few laps attacking into the wind alone, Knapp started catching and passing riders in the Men's B field, which started a minute before the women. "Every race now counts as we get closer to Nationals [with the traditional Wednesday Night workouts at the Grouphealth Velodrome cancelled cue to construction] the only practice is racing" said Knapp. When asked if she had a plan for the race, Knapp replied "No plan. [I was] just going hard, thinking when you're with the best in the nation can you let up?" Silver medalist Kristi Berg reflected on the race, saying, "It was a great race. It's a lot harder racing it than riding it." On Knapp, Berg said, "She gets stronger and stronger every race...I tried to hang with her to get away from everyone and then hang on...with Ann, I'm always happy to hang with her." Closing out the medal count for the elite women was Jadine Riley of Team Grouphealth.
In the elite men's race, riders took off at a blistering pace down the tailwind straight away toward Puget Sound led by Tour de Tunnel Champion Josh Squire. By the second lap, Dale Knapp (Kona) took the lead and established a 20 second gap ahead of Morgan Schmitt (Redline) and Loren Hansen (Benaroya Research Institute), and the rest of the field. Emerald Series points leader Morgan Schmitt rode a tactical race for the first lap. "I didn't wanna get to the front on the first lap with all that wind, and sat in seventh until the hill and punched it" explained Schmitt. Every lap Dale Knapp gained seconds on the field sprinting down the straight-aways and demonstrating the form that made him a Northwest 'cross icon. "The course was super fun...it played right into my hands [it was] all power [with] no real vertical climbs or headwinds to trudge through" he said.
With Knapp almost a minute up on the chase group of Schmitt and Hansen, Schmitt decided the chase was a lost cause. "I kind of gave up on [closing on Knapp] and so Hansen and I took turns switching on and off to keep ahead of Rich McClung and Josh Squire," said Schmitt. Clawing his way back from seventh, McClung (Broadmark Capital) worked his way up to Squire and eventually the lead chase of Schmitt and Hansen. With a group of four going into the final lap of the race and Knapp out of sight, Schmitt waited until the first hill, where, in his own words, "I surged, got a gap after the barrier with a run-up where I put in a big effort and had a gap from there." Schmitt took second and the silver medal, chased by a determined McClung (Broadmark Capital) to the last 200 metres of the race. Asked if he was aware of the race for second behind him, Knapp said, "I could see Morgan [Schmitt] and Loren [Hansen] and pretty soon Rich [McClung]. Because the course doubled back and I could see them, I knew I was putting a few seconds into them every lap...I didn't wanna get too comfortable because I could lose the lead with a flat."
When asked if this win was indicative of a return from semi-retirement, Knapp said, "No. Still all fun...I work the graveyard shift and there was no extra effort. Just years and years of being a cyclocross racer and loving the sport, and every now and then things fall into place like today."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Hyun Lee
Elite Men 1 Dale Knapp (Kona) 2 Morgan Schmitt (Redline) 3 Rich Mcclung (Broadmark) Elite Women 1 Ann Knapp (Kona) 2 Kristi Berg (Bicycle Centers) 3 Jadine Riley (Grouphealth)