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River City Bicycles 2002 Cross Crusade #1

Alpenrose Dairy, Portland, OR, October 6, 2002

Kona/Kenwood kicks some tail

By Brian Witty

The Seattle-based Kona/Kenwood Team came, saw and conquered by winning the premier events for both men and women in the season opener of the 2002 River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade Series on October 6 at the Alpenrose Dairy in Portland. Dale Knapp led home teammates Barry Wicks and Erik Tonkin for a dominant Kona/Kenwood 1-2-3 in the Category A Men's race while Jeanette Nussbaum wrapped up the sweep by taking the Category A Women's race.

The morning started with heavy, crisp autumn under cloudy skies which gradually gave way to bright sunshine as the elite racers lined up. Prior to the showcase races, the largest fields in series history, with more than 350 participants, lined up at the Alpenrose Dairy. This venue has established itself as the signature event for Northwest 'cross featuring a course that twisted in and around the Alpenrose Velodrome with the finish line on the infield grass which favored powerful riders

Knapps' Two Hard Laps

The Northwest 'cross community showed up in force as evidenced by the deep start list in the Category A Men's race. Right from the gun, the Kona/Kenwood threesome of veterans Knapp and Tonkin and up-and-coming Wicks were on the front followed closely by Steve Crosier (Redline) and Trek/VW/Bike Gallery teammates Shannon Skerritt and Derl Miller. Those six riders immediately established a gap on the field which was at 10 seconds by the time they entered the velodrome for the first time.

2001 'Cross Crusade Champion Tonkin was the workhorse in the opening laps as he stayed at the front pouring on the pace as his teammates sat on his wheel. The strategy worked as Miller drifted off the back and Crosier cracked, thinning the lead group to just the Kona/Kenwood trio and Skerritt.

On the second time through the velodrome, the hundreds of fans in the bleachers witnessed what will go down as one of the most spectacular sights in U.S. 'cross this year. Upon entering the velodrome, Tonkin put it in the big ring and led Knapp and Wicks in a team time trial on Alpenrose's 42-degree banking. It was simultaneously awe-inspiring and surreal.

On the third of eight laps, 38-year-old veteran Knapp stormed up a steep run-up and Wicks, fresh from racing at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Austria, gave chase. For the next two laps, Wicks worked hard to stay in contact. Knapp bobbled slightly on a tricky transition from the infield grass onto the track apron which forced him to turn around in order to not cut the course.

With three to go, Wicks was in front and it was now down to a two-man race to the finish, with Tonkin, Skerritt and Miller in a procession filling out the top five. "With two to go, I said to myself: 'Whoever goes now will win. This is going to be two hard laps.' Then I just went for it," recounted Knapp after the race.

Although Wicks put up a valiant resistance, Knapp's horsepower was too much for Wicks who is more suited to technical, hilly courses. The 1998 U.S. Cyclo-Cross Champion crossed the line first for the second week in a row, following his win at the Bikefit-Microsoft Seattle Cyclo-cross round at SeaTac, Wash. The top five held station over the last few laps to finish with Tonkin in third, followed by Skerritt and Miller.

No Doubt for Nussbaum

With a field of nearly 50 women in three classes taking the start, the spectators on hand would get non-stop action in the six-lap race. The Category A field included Nussbaum, 2001 series winner Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M), Josie Beggs (Bolla/Bianchi), who had a race in Seattle last week, and professional mountain bikers Alice Pennington (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery) and Amy Hunter-Dillinger (Lakeside/River's Edge).

The flat course was to Nussbaum's liking as she jumped from the starter's whistle. By the time she had covered half a lap to reach the finish line, she had already put eight seconds between herself and the pack. The chasers were led by Mazza, with Beggs, Pennington, Hunter-Dillinger and Suzanne King (Sunnyside) in tow.

With Nussbaum showing no sign of weakening, the action was for the rest of the podium. Mazza was in a solid second, but the effort was showing in her face on this course that suits bigger riders. Pennington was next on the second lap, but was starting to labor as she tried to stay in contact with Mazza.

Beggs was pushing hard - perhaps too hard - as she lost her front wheel as she transitioned onto the apron of the track and went down on the concrete. She was up quickly, losing little time, and her bike and body appeared in good shape. In fact, the spill seemed to steel the Bolla/Bianchi rider's resolve and she put her head down to reel in Pennington. On the run-up, Beggs put in a big effort to get past Pennington.

At the bell, Nussbaum was clear of Mazza by more than one minute. Beggs was not making in-roads on Mazza who was ahead by more than 30 seconds. Suzanne King put in a workman-like effort to chase down the fading Pennington. In fact, Hunter-Dillinger saw an opening and closed a 15-second gap to 10 meters at the finish in the final lap, but the platinum-blond Trek/VW/Bike Gallery rider dug deep to hold onto fifth place.

The second round of the eight-race 'Cross Crusade series heads to Pier Park in North Portland on October 13. This popular course criss-crosses a small ravine which offers the racers several exciting rollercoaster rides each lap.

About the 'Cross Crusade Series

Now in its 10th season, the River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade Series is a Oregon-based grassroots effort that has grown into the largest cyclo-cross series in North America. The 2002 'Cross Crusade has more than $20,002 of prize money up for grabs during the eight races, including two UCI sanctioned events for the first time.

The 'Cross Crusade series emphasizes fun and participation which is evidenced by the expansive prize list that ranges from cash and bike-related merchandise to six-packs of local microbrews and bottles of Oregon-grown wines. This level of generosity is made possible by the unparalleled support of the series' title sponsor River City Bicycles and presenting sponsors Cannondale, Saturn/RussAuto, MacTarnahan's and Sellwood Cycle Repair. Learn more about 'Cross Crusade at http://www.crosscrusade.com.


Category A Men
1 Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood)
2 Barry Wicks (Kona/Kenwood)
3 Erik Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood)
4 Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
5 Derl Miller (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
6 Ryan Iddings Rad Racing
7 Jon Meyers (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
8 David Fleischauer (Rad Racing)
9 Rich Cramer (Presto Velo)
10 Mark King 
11 Robert Campbell (Rad Racing)
12 Joseph Brown (Kona Bikes)
13 Shane Beers (Vision Cyclery SF)
14 Brady Anderson (River City )
15 Chad Swanson
16 Richard McClung (Broadmark Capital )
17 Chris Brandt (Collins)
18 Michael Sylvester (Bike Gallery)
19 Damian Schmitt (Sunnyside)
20 John Leonard (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
Category A Women
1 Jeanette Nussbaum (Kona/Kenwood)
2 Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M/ Vanilla)
3 Josie Beggs (Bolla/Bianchi)
4 Suzanne King (Sunnyside)
5 Alice Pennington (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
6 Amy Hunter-Dillinger (Lakeside/ River's Edge)
7 Karen Kenlen Sunnyside
8 Wanda Howlett 
9 Marjon Marik (River City Bicycles)
10 Emily Babcock (Gentle Lovers)