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US Cyclo-cross Championships - CN
Kansas City, Missouri, USA, December 11-14, 2008
Stage 9 - December 13: U-23 Men
Weighall reigns supreme in espoirs
By Laura Weislo in Kansas City, Missouri
Rad Racing's Nick Weighall outpaced Nick Keough (Jittery Joe's/Sonic Cyclocross) for the US national espoir title in Kansas City on Saturday morning. The pair were well matched throughout the race until Weighall attacked on the final lap and succeeded in gaining just a few seconds on Keough - enough to take home his first national championship title.
Keough took the hole shot ahead of Danny Summerhill (Clif Bar), Adam McGrath (Maxxis/Litespeed) and Weighall, but the latter took over the lead at the top of the hill and allowed the selection to form behind him. Only Keough could hold the high pace Weighall set on the perfectly groomed surface of the Tiffany Springs Park course, and the pair worked together to distance the competition until the final lap.
"He's a really good sprinter, and really fast on the climbs out there," Weighall said of Keough. "With two to go at the top, I saw he was braking a lot in the one turn, and I heard him kind of bobble and I gassed it. It was a blast out there, a lot of fun.
"He's a great racer, he was putting the hurt on me on the climbs. I just wanted him to work a bit so we could stay away from those other guys. It worked out for both of us."
During the second lap two chasers, McGrath and Alex Howes (Clif Bar) caught up to the leaders, but Weighall upped the pace to split up the group so that he could focus on fighting just one other rider.
"There was that little group of four of us that came together, and I didn't want that. It's a lot easier to split the group up. Then it was just me and Keough and we were working well together."
Weighall, the US Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross series champion, has been regularly placing in the top ten in the elite fields and will head over to Europe for the World Cups and World Championships. Now he will go into those races with a national championship under his belt. "I'm feeling pretty confident going over there," he said.
Danny Summerhill repeated his third place finish of last year where he finished behind Bjorn Selander and Jamey Driscoll. The 19-year-old who finished second in the Junior World Championships in 2007 was hampered by a head cold. "I almost didn't want to race yesterday, but when I woke up today I felt a lot better," said Summerhill.
The illness didn't slow him down on the start, but a couple mistakes on the first lap put him back into ninth position. "I crashed twice on the first lap, then kinda got taken out at the top of the course behind the top two guys. So that let them go, and that was a real bummer."
"The rest of the race I just rode steady - the course was more fun than I thought it would be. I was really nervous it would be wet and nasty," Summerhill said. On the previous day, overnight rains turned the course into a swampy mess that was barely rideable. By Saturday morning, the espoirs enjoyed a harder, tacky course that provided excellent traction with only a few ruts.
After his less than perfect first lap, Summerhill got his head back into the game and began picking off riders throughout the race, finally making it to third place on lap five. "I wasn't sure how far down I was, but I was looking at a lot of people in front of me and thought 'oh man, this is not how nationals is supposed to go!' I crashed more today than the entire season put together. But that's how racing goes."
Last year's winner Selander had a hard time getting started and ended the first lap in fifth position and while he fell to sixth behind McGrath, he succeeded in catching and passing him on the penultimate lap. "I didn't have a very good start. I didn't feel very good for the first two or three laps. I don't know what was going on - I couldn't go!
"With four laps to go something finally kicked in and I could go hard. I made up a lot of ground on the last few laps. I didn't want to give up even though I was pretty far back."
Selander is hoping to be selected for the world championships team, and has focused his season on that goal. "I'm building right now for worlds - it's hard to peak for both. Last year I wasn't planning on worlds, and my main goal was nationals and I won that. This year my goal is the world championships - but now I have to get selected!"
How it unfolded
The under-23 men's race started with 50 riders rocketing off the line under high clouds. With a stiff wind blowing them up the hill, the racers flew through the first half lap at a high speed strung out single file behind the furious pace of Nick Keough, who took the hole shot. Weighall took over the lead at the top of the hill where the course turned sharply to the left into a set of stairs before sending riders through a technical S-turn. It was here that Weighall realized that he had the legs to win.
"Right from the start I heard the guys bobbling on the climb and I put on the gas - that was the race right there from the first lap - we got away at the top of the climb," Weighall said.
Keough rode up to Weighall, while McGrath and Howes chased together just a few seconds behind the leaders. Selander, Summerhill and Lees McRae's Eric Thompson were in close pursuit ahead of Will Dugan (RGM Watches/Richard Sachs).
On the second lap, Howes and McGrath closed down the five second gap to the leaders, but an attack by Weighall at the top of the hill split the group back into two. Howes got away from McGrath and chased alone in third on the next lap while Summerhill made his way up from behind. By the next lap, Summerhill had passed McGrath and closed in on Howes before finally overtaking him by the end of that lap and into third position.
When Summerhill emerged from the chase, he found an insurmountable 30 second gap to the leaders that only grew as the two men in front began battling for the win.
On the final lap, Weighall chose to run the S-turns at the top of the hill while Keough tried to ride it, and the handful of seconds Weighall gained were just enough to get the win. Keough began to close down the advantage near the bottom of the hill, but ran out of time to make up any ground.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Maurice Hessel/www.mauricehessel.com
Images by Dave McElwaine/www.trailwatch.net
Images by Mitch Clinton/www.clintonphoto.com
1 Nicholas Weighall (Radracing NorthWest) 48.12 2 Nicholas Keough (Jittery Joes/Sonic Cyclocross) 0.08 3 Daniel Summerhill (TEAM CLIF BAR) 1.25 4 Alex Howes (CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cro) 1.34 5 Bjorn Selander (Ridley Factory Team) 1.40 6 Adam Mcgrath (Maxxis/Litespeed) 1.57 7 Will Dugan (RGM WATCHES - RICHARD SACHS -) 2.03 8 Eric Thompson (lees mcrae college) 3.03 9 Mitch Hoke (CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cro) 10 Steve Fisher (Western Washington University) 3.41 11 Colin Cares (CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cro) 12 Kevin Mullervy (CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cro) 3.59 13 David Hackworthy (Ridley Factory Team) 4.09 14 Brady Kappius (TEAM CLIF BAR) 4.19 15 Giancarlo Dalle Angelini (Redline) 4.27 16 Nathan Bannerman (Bicycle Centres/ Collision 1) 17 Jeremy Ferguson (California Giant Berry Farms/S) 4.42 18 Joseph Schmalz (HRRC Trek Stores) 5.02 19 Clayton Omer (Calistoga Racing Team) 5.16 20 Mitchell Peterson (University of Utah) 21 Conor Mullervy (CLIF BAR Development Cyclo-Cro) 22 Kip Spaude (I Scorp) 5.39 23 Pat Lemieux (Texas Roadhouse) 6.15 24 Oscar Clark (Georgia State University) 6.25 25 Nicholas Dale (Raleigh All Stars/Lees-McRae C) 6.31 26 Andrew Llewellyn (Calistoga Racing Team) 6.50 27 Jack Hinkens (fccc) 28 Zachary Adams (Slippery Rock University) 7.41 29 Matthew Brandt (mesa cycles) 8.53 30 Joshua Berry (Team BODE) 9.15 One lap behind 31 Brent Steinberg (Mesa State College) 32 Logan Vonbokel (Mesa Cycles Racing Team) 33 Bradford Perley (Lees-McRae College) 34 Chance Noble (California Giant Berry Farms/S) 35 Gregory Vigneaux (Gear Works/Spin Arts Cycling T) Two laps behind 36 Christopher Bogedin (Lees-McRae College) 37 Zachary Edwards (DRT RACING) 38 Jake Davidson (Dickinsen College) 39 Alex Grman (The Hub Cycling Team) 40 Bryen Graver (Oboy Oberto/Redline) 41 David Roberts (CRRC) 42 Peter Krause (Cycle City Racing) Three laps behind 43 Will Curry (Brick Oven/CB Builders) 44 Martin Lang (Mesa Cycles Racing Team) 45 Erik Wilburn (USMA Cycling) DNS Jerome Townsend (Fitness Together/IF pb Lionett) DNS Matt Rotroff (North Carolina State Universit) DNS Adam Lang (Mesa Cycles) DNS Alex Ryan (Kobold Watch Company/CANNONDAL) DNS Greg Payne (GP Velotek) DNF John-Paul Russo (colavita) DNF Ben Fishman (University of Northern Colorad) DNF Andrew Slater (University of Kansas) DNF Michael Koballa (Appalachain State) DNF Morgan Whiterabbit (Augsburg College) DNF Patrick Bradley (Rutgers University-New Brunswi) DNF Andrew Glaser (Rutgers University-New Brunswi)