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Microsoft Seattle Cyclocross Series #3
Tacoma, WA, October 13, 2002
Dale destroys the field
By Joe Zauner, Editor-and-chief, Northwest Race Report.com
Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood) did nothing short of annihilate the men's A race Sunday at the Microsoft Seattle Cyclocross Series near Tacoma, Wash., in an event that set a record for athlete participation.
More than 238 riders raced the undulating course at Fort Steilacoom that has produced the smallest turnouts in past years. Race promoters said the growth of cyclocross was the reason behind the increase in participation. A warm sunny day didn't hurt either.
Men's A race
Knapp, 38-years-old and considered by many a living legend on the Northwest cyclocross circuit, hammered out a near three-minute margin of victory over second-place Rich McClung (Broadmark/Elitebicycle.com) in the Parkland Bicycle-sponsored event.
The race wasn't all easygoing for Knapp in the eight-lap affair. Early on he was locked in what was by all appearances a three-way battle royale between himself and neo-road-pro Russell Stevenson (Prime Alliance) and Steve Crosier (Redline), a rider who seemed overdue for a breakout performance after several top-five finishes.
Stevenson even jumped out to a brief lead on the first lap when he powered over a steep run-up/climb. That move, however, was more bluff than substance, and it was the last time anyone other than Knapp would see the front of the race for the rest of the day.
"I tried to play psychological warfare with Dale and make him think I was that fast," said Stevenson, who was the 2000 Washington mountain bike champion. "But he rode away from us at the top of the course. I was like, 'okay, he wins.'"
Knapp maintained a solid 30-second lead over Stevenson and Crosier until lap five when Crosier flatted. Crosier spent the next two laps chasing Stevenson down, but when he caught him, he flatted again. It was the fourth time Crosier flatted on the day - twice in the race, twice in warm-up.
"When I finally caught Russell and we were bombing away, I thought we could definitely give him (Knapp) a run for his money," Crosier said. "This is the best I've felt all year." Stevenson, who by lap five appeared ready to call it day, gave his wheel to Crosier and retired. Crosier made another two laps before experiencing his final mechanical of the day - this time a drive-train malfunction. He joined Stevenson on the sidelines with one lap to go after working his way back through the field to fifth place.
It mattered little to Knapp who was concentrating on getting around the course as quickly as possible.
"I trained pretty hard this week, so I just wanted to see what was in the tank today," Knapp said. "I'm glad (Stevenson and Crosier) were there to give me that little nudge at the start to get me motivated. I tried to stay in time-trial mode even though people would say to me that 'they're (Stevenson/Crosier) are so far back I can't even see them.' So what? I'm here to race."
Behind Knapp the race that was for fourth and fifth turned into a race for second and third between McClung and Eric Atwood (Richey Roots). Atwood, a notable mountain biker on the Northwest circuit, was finding his way through the technical sections faster than McClung, a former U.S. national road team member in the late 80s. In the end, McClung's road power won out as he dropped Atwood on a gravel climb and held on for second.
Of note was the performance of 17-year-old Ryan Iddings, (Rad Racing) who rode what appeared to be a patient race, working his way through the field and up to fifth place. Iddings represented the United States at the 2002 world mountain bike championships this summer in Australia.
In the women's race, Jeannette Nussbaum (Kona/Kenwood) jumped out to an early lead and held it, although her performance wasn't as dominant as some expected.
Nussbaum, returning to action after missing a week of racing due to illness, couldn't fully rid herself of Josie Beggs (Bianchi), who hovered around 20 seconds off the pace the entire race.
"I actually felt pretty good," she said. "This course hurt, but I really liked it. It's all power. In the first two laps I was definitely going as hard as I could, but the last few laps, my legs were cramping going up the hill."
Early into the six-lap event, Nussbaum and Beggs were working their way through the Master B field, which started 45-seconds ahead. Nussbaum separated herself early from Beggs and the rest of the women.
Beggs was well ahead of the race for third between Wanda Howlett (Seattle Super Squadra), Kelly Hulser (Armondo's) and Christi Berg (Bicycle Centers). They would finish in that order. Nussbaum beat Beggs by 20 seconds.
Master's A race
The Masters A event provided possibly the most exciting race of the day as Doug Graver (Ragnavok) pulled out a close victory in the last 500 meters, going from third to first after never leading the race up to that point.
Phil Oppenhemier (Bicycle Center) set the early pace, but Randy Iddings (Rad Racing) jumped out to a six-second lead after two laps and held that margin over Dan Norton (Redline) and Graver. With two laps to go Norton, a seven-time national master cyclocross champion, left Graver and closed down on Iddings.
Graver appeared out of contention with one lap remaining, six seconds off the pace. But he inched closer to the Norton/Iddings duo and was on their heels heading into the last run-up/climb.
"I think he was saving something," said Norton, 53. "We were gapping him on the run-up until the last lap and he put a charge on us that caught me by surprise and I think Randy too. He had 20 feet on us at the top of the hill."
Graver rolled in for first about three seconds ahead Iddings - enough time for a modest celebration - followed by Norton about another three seconds back.
Men's B race
In the Men' B race, Daniel Cooley (Bola/Bianchi) put on a cross-clinic, easily winning by more than a minute.
Lance Simanek (K2) was the early leader. He and four riders including Cooley separated themselves from the field after the first lap. On the second lap Cooley, a recent upgrade to NORBA semi-pro after racing a full season on the national circuit, jumped out to a big advantage, building a 42 second cushion in just one lap.
That lead would balloon to 1 minute 15 seconds by the finish. Second place went to Greg Ulrich (Monticello), who was well ahead of Simanek in third.
In the junior race, three Rad Racing riders took turns swapping leads. Morgan Schmidt eventually prevailed over Will Freeman and national junior champion Collin Carbaugh. These three riders also figured into the Men's B race, which they started with.
Schmidt finished third in the B race. He started out patiently, working his way through the field before taking the lead in the junior race with two laps to go. Although he took the lead, it wasn't a done deal. In fact, he lost it to Freeman on the fifth lap before regaining it for good on the last lap.
"They (Freeman and Carbaugh) were killing me on the technical sections, but I would catch back up on the hills and the back part of the course," said Schmidt, who also runs cross-country for Roslyn High School in Cle Elum, Wash., where he is a senior.
Images by Northwest Race Report.com
Images by Hyun Lee
Men A 1 Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood) 2 Rich McClung (Broadmark/Elitebicycle.com) 3 Eric Atwood (Richey Roots) Men B 1 Daniel Cooley (Bola/Bianchi) 2 Greg Ulrich (Monticello) 3 Lance Simanek (K2) Women 1 Jeannette Nussbaum (Kona/Kenwood) 2 Josie Beggs (Bianchi) 3 Wanda Howlett (Seattle Super Squadra) Masters A 1 Doug Graver (Ragnavok) 2 Randy Iddings (Rad Racing) 3 Dan Norton (Redline) Juniors 1 Morgan Schmidt (Rad Racing) 2 Will Freeman (Rad Racing) 3 Collin Carbaugh (Rad Racing)