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USGP of Cyclo-cross #6 - Portland Cup - C2

Portland, Oregon, USA, December 7, 2008

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Race 2 - December 7: Juniors

McDonald sweeps Portland Cup

By Laura Weislo in Portland, Oregon

Zach McDonald wins
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
(Click for larger image)

Zach McDonald took his fourth consecutive victory in the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross in Portland on Sunday, besting Gavin Mannion (Hot Tubes).and Erick Emsky (Rad Racing) on a classic, rainy Pacific Northwest afternoon.

The bright sunshine of the previous day gave way to thick clouds and drizzle for the start of the UCI junior race, which played into the hands of McDonald (Classic Cycles).

The surprise of the race came from Mannion, who was able to stay with McDonald until bad luck struck in the form of a flat tire on the penultimate lap. "It was going to be an interesting last couple of laps," said McDonald, who was disappointed to lose his main competition. "He kept attacking me on the road, and then I would put a little time into him on the moto-cross section. But we didn't get to see how it would have turned out which is kind of a bummer, because it would have been a lot of fun."

Mannion, a former US criterium champion, fought his way back to the wheel of McDonald after the technical sections, and then put in several attacks, one of which gave him a few seconds advantage on the third lap. "I used my road power versus his mountain bike technical skills," said Mannion. "But technical won out in the end."

Mannion chose to take a fresh bike coming into the second to last lap, and was forced to chase back a five second lead by McDonald, who wasn't waiting. "I pitted once just because it was getting a little muddy and heavy, and then I flatted and had to go into the pit again," said Mannion. "With one and a half laps to go I front flatted, so it was hard to control. I lost 20 seconds to Zach, and I couldn't close it. The course got really slick on the last lap and he was really good in those corners."

How it unfolded

Racing aggressively from the gun, Mannion took the hole shot and got to the first obstacle - a steep run-up which went directly up the side of the berm the riders climbed the previous day. "They brought us up one of the moto-cross jumps, and it was pretty sandy and steep, it was hard to get up," said Mannion.

The Hot Tubes rider reached the top behind Connor O'Leary, who put in an attack and led into the muddy moto-cross section of the course. With the tougher beginning section of the lap, McDonald was surprised the group stayed together through the first barriers. "There was one attack on the first lap that surprised me, I think it was Connor - it was pretty hard to chase him back. The longer moto-cross section had a little bit more mud, which is interesting. It was a lot slower through there."

McDonald and Mannion quickly distanced the competition through the more technical second half of the first lap. O'Leary's hot start cost him, however, and by the second lap he was caught and passed by Emsky. The Rad Racing rider closed in on the leading duo on the second lap, but just could not shrink the fifteen second gap.

"I was chasing hard and then about the third lap in, it started getting really greasy and I just wanted to keep it upright," Emsky said. "Gavin started opening up a gap on me, so from there it was just a matter of trying to keep my position and go hard."

Midway through the third lap, the rain began to fall in earnest, changing the course from tacky mud to a thick soup that coated the riders from head to toe. With the slick conditions, the gaps between riders quickly grew. While McDonald held off the chase from Mannion, Emsky held on to third place ahead of his teammate Ian Terry, securing second place overall in the USGP series.

Yesterday's second place finisher Nathan Brown came in a distant fifth, just holding off Andrew Barker (Clif Bar) in the sprint.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Mitch Clinton/www.clintonphoto.com


1 Zach McDonald (USA) Classic Cycles                             
2 Gavin Mannion (USA) Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team Inc.    
3 Eric Emsky (USA) Rad Racing NW                                 
4 Ian Terry (USA) RAD Racing                                     
5 Nathan Brown (USA) Hot Tubes Development Team Inc.             
6 Andrew Barker (USA) CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cross Team      
7 Chris Wallace (USA) KCCX/VERGE                                 
8 Connor Oleary (USA) FFKR Architects/SportsBaseOnline.com       
9 Robin Eckmann (USA) Team 5280 Magazine                         
10 Cody Kaiser (USA) California Giant Strawberries               
11 Benjamin Swedberg (USA) Rad Racing NW                         
12 Morgan Ryan (USA) Team CICLE                                  
13 Gabe Watson-Norris (USA) Rad Racing Hagens Berman LLC         
14 Madison Chilenski (USA) Team Oregon                           
15 Jeff Hopkins (USA) Willamette Valley Cyclery                  
16 Cole Cutright (USA) Oh Boy Oberto/Redline                     
17 Taylor Stewart (USA) Bicycle Trip Santa Cruz                  
18 Joshua Kaneg (USA) Bicycle Trip                               
19 Kyle Vanderstoep (USA) Bike Trip                              
DNF Cody Cox (USA) CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cross Team         
DNF Kevin Strawn (USA) W.A.R.                                    
DNF Luke Keough (USA) CL Noonan/Coast to Coast/KAM               
DNF Dylan Macdonald (USA) bike trip santa cruz                   
DNF Robby Milazzo (USA) Bicycle Trip                             
DNF Ryan Miller (USA) Fred Meyer/Lakeside                        
DNF Colton Swearingen (USA) Mt View Cycles                       
DNF Danny Hiller (USA) Team 5280 Magazine