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North Carolina Cyclo-cross Series #3
Southern Pines, NC, January 12, 2003
By Dahron Johnson
As the crowds reassembled in Southern Pines, North Carolina for act three of the 2003 98over.com North Carolina Cyclo-cross Winter Cup, the storyline had developed like so: North Carolina resident, and now under-23 US World's team member, Krystal Racing's Ryan Trebon claimed the limelight in both Greensboro and Charlotte, taking convincing wins over Giant Bicycle's national u-23 champion, Adam Craig. Others attempted to make their presence felt, but at the close of each act, the Men's A race in essence had been a two-man show.
Here in Southern Pines, though, the field swelled with potential contenders for the win. Joining Craig and Trebon, the brothers Anthony-Josh, who rides for the Cyclo-crossWorld.com squad and also holds a place on the US World's under-23 team; and Josh, the two-time Men's Junior 17-18 national champion, on the Saturn Development team-made the trek to south-central North Carolina to get their feet wet, quite literally it turned out, in the Winter Cup action. With these four central dramatis personae all building toward their peak for the World's in Monopoli, Italy-now less than three weeks away-the plot looked to rise towards a classic climactic third-act performance. When the races unfolded under the clear but cold skies of this Sandhills region, such proved to be exactly the case.
While the 2.5-kilometer lap distance seemed long, the course itself proved blazingly fast. Even with some sluggish patches of soft, loose, sand, the track generally invited speed throughout its length. Also keeping the pace high was the minimal number of obstacle sections, with only one relatively short run-up, and two triple-barricade sections. When the whistle blew signaling the start of the Men's A event, those witnessing the furious charge of its seven starters knew that lap times would be far faster than the 16-to-17 kilometer-an-hour averages of the previous week's races.
In an effort that seemed fuelled by a desire to prove the appropriateness of his national championship title, Adam Craig set a blazing tempo from the start. He quickly distanced himself from the Anthony brothers, as well as local 'xross powerhouse and Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet racer, Peter Hymas, who had forgone the Masters' 35-plus event, a category in which he had already posted two Winter Cup wins, in order to be as fresh as possible for what he knew was going to be an all-out hour of racing. The only one who remained within striking distance of Craig was Ryan Trebon. However, when Craig rounded the uphill pavement bend to begin his second lap, Trebon remained out of sight.
Indeed, Craig had enough time on his fellow World's teammate to clear the first set of triples, as well as the first of the two rushing-water reservoir spillway crossings before Trebon came into view. Still more seconds ticked off before Saturn Development's Jesse Anthony came around the asphalt curve. In the end, Craig crossed the line in first, completing 10 laps in 59:15, an average speed of almost 25.5 kilometers an hour. Two minutes and 17 seconds later, Trebon finished in second, only his second loss in the eight races in which he has participated in the combined fall and winter North Carolina series'. World's junior team member Jesse Anthony rounded out the top three, coming in 4:57 behind Craig. Craig and Trebon's U-23 teammate, Cyclo-crossWorld.com's Josh Anthony, took fourth, while Hymas took fifth.
The Masters 35-plus category underwent a transformation of sorts, with series overall leader Hymas off to test his mettle in the Men's A's, and Marcus Jones taking on backstage roles as promoter and organizer on this double-series points race day. In their absence, two other long-time hard-men of the North Carolina Cyclo-cross scene took center stage. DeFeet/Cool Breeze Racing's Michael Scholtz, who finished sixth in the NC fall series-albeit with two out of races chalked up as wins-came out for his first Masters' race of the new year, and ended up going head to head with hometown racer Michael Ventola of the Sandhills Cycling Club. Ventola raced well in the Men's A category in the Winter Cup's first race in Greensboro, but had not yet taken on the Masters' challenger in this series.
The high speeds and long straight sections created road-style racing in this category-surprisingly absent in the A's-with riders marking each other and hiding in their competitor's drafts. That a sprint finish decided the winner of this event, then, should come as no surprise. With Ventola doing all he could to drop to Scholtz, he came around the final uphill bend in the lead. With the effort evident on Ventola's face, though, and with Scholtz sitting in tight on his wheel, it was not to be the Southern Pines resident's day. Scholtz charged around Ventola in the very final meters, taking the win by 2/3 of a bike length. Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet racer Lonnie Brooks used his road experience in taking third, letting Paceline Bicycle's Guy Spiher tire himself though doing most of the pulling work, then coming around him in the closing laps to take the final podium spot.
The home team did score a win in the Masters' 45-Plus, with Sandhills Cycling Club's Dale Bryant taking his second consecutive win. Bryant has continued to improve throughout the fall and winter, and looked exceptionally smooth through the barricade sections. Behind him, Ken Johnson of Charlotte, NC came in second, showing quick improvement as the series progresses towards next weekend's two-race conclusion in Hendersonville. Returning to the race ranks after missing Charlotte's act two, David Fuller of the Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet squad had his best race of the fall or winter series, taking third.
Women's A & B
Both the Women's A and B categories remained small, as has unfortunately been the norm for the Winter Cup. Maureen Chambers, fresh off two A-race wins over the first weekend of the Cup, looked to continue the trend. Boone Bike & Touring's Alisha Little, though, spoiled Chamber's triple by taking the victory. Little held a distinct advantage on her Cyclo-cross bike on this course, especially with Chambers curiously opting for a mountain bike on this speedy course. In the B's, Annette Bednosky appeared none the worse for wear, despite having arrived with only a few minutes to spare after some wrong turns on the trip from Charlotte. In taking the win, Bednosky bumped Robin Stalte off from the winner's spot she claimed in Charlotte back into second, while Boone Bike & Touring's Anne Bolyea claimed third.
After dominating the Men's B category over the opening weekend on the grimy, mountain-bike friendly tracks of Charlotte and Greensboro, Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet junior Matt Skeen found himself confronted with a course on which his 26-inch wheels just couldn't perform as nimbly as the skinnier 700c wheels used by a majority of his competitors. Speeding to a nearly 22-km/hr victory, Outspoken racer T. J. Behm outpaced Skeen to take the victory, with the Asheville Fire Department's Erik Stalte taking third.
In the C's, the shorter race time length and larger field size-19 racers in all--inspired blazing performances, with Augusta, Georgia OutSpoken racer Ross Douglass averaging over 24.5 kilometers an hour in taking his win. Chris Green kept the familiar white-and-green of Sandhills Cycling Club in the thick of things with his second place finish; DeFeet/Cool Breeze Racing's blue and yellow colors crossed the line in third on the shoulders of Mark Scholtz. Even a pair of juniors joined the fray in Sunday's events: in their head-to head battle, hometown boy Tony Huntley edged out Sandhills Cycling Club's Levi Tew for the Juniors' category win.
As all the racers prepare themselves for the fourth act in Hendersonville next Saturday, followed immediately by the Winter Cup dénouement the next day on the same stage, they must examine at how this double-points day has effected their overall roles. With Craig's impressive performance in the A's, he now shares top billing in the standings with Trebon, while the category's one-step-ahead-of-the-broom-wagon rider Dahron Johnson, racing for Cycles De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet, has shown that letting yourself get consistently outclassed counts more than out-and-out athleticism-for the moment, anyway-as he finds himself moving up into third overall in the group.
The absences of key players in the Men's 35-plus radically changed the script in that category, with Cycle De Oro/NorthState Chevrolet's Lonnie Brooks jumping from fourth to first overall. Joe Largay and Guy Spiher also benefited from the double-points on offer, with the two now tied for third in this category. In these categories, as with all the others, though, one must wait for the dramas of next weekend's final two races to discover who will emerge as the true 2003 98over.com North Carolina Cyclo-cross Winter Cup stars. Even with the temperature predicted to drop throughout the week, the action in Hendersonville's Jackson Park next Saturday and Sunday will assuredly be hot. Come back next week for the conclusions to all these series cliffhangers!
Images by Vicki Reynolds
Images by Steve McLean
Images by Steve Baker
(Double points) Pts Men's A, 60 minutes 1 Adam Craig (Giant) 240 2 Ryan Trebon (Krystal) 216 3 Jesse Anthony (Saturn Development) 192 4 Josh Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com) 168 5 Peter Hymas (Greensboro Velo Club) 152 6 Derek Powers (Doughnut Boy Racing) 136 7 Dahron Johnson (Greensboro Velo Club) 120 7 starters Men's B - 45 minutes 1 TJ Behm 120 2 Matt Skeen 108 3 Eric Stalte 96 4 Tyler Crabtree 84 5 Chris Wade 76 6 Shawn Tew 68 6 starters Women's A - 45 minutes 1 Alisha Little 120 2 Maureen Chambers 108 2 starters Master's 35+ - 45 minutes 1 Michael Scholtz 120 2 Michael Ventola 108 3 Lonnie Brooks 96 4 Guy Spiher 84 5 Joe Largay 76 6 Howard Parsons 68 7 starters Master's 45+ - 45 minutes 1 Dale Bryant 120 2 Kenneth Johnson 108 3 David Fuller 96 4 Thomas Mitchell 84 5 Charles Patnode 76 6 Steve Baker 68 7 Tom Ricketts 60 7 starters Men's C - 30 minutes 1 Ross Douglas 60 2 Chris Green 54 3 Mark Scholtz 48 4 Howard Parsons 43 5 George Santucci 38 6 Line Dempsey 34 7 Ken Riggsbee 30 8 Bryan Thomas 26 9 Brian Kane 24 10 James Ardinger 22 11 Dennis Grooms 20 12 Jeremy Goldstein 18 13 Ricky Hodges 16 14 Walt McCutcheon 14 15 Keith Bell 12 16 Jim Smalley 2 17 Sean Bir 2 18 George Kirk 2 19 Chad Tew 2 19 starters Women's B - 30 minutes 1 Annette Bednosky 60 2 Robin Stalte 54 3 Anne Bolyea 48 3 starters Juniors - 30 minutes 1 Tony Huntley 60 2 Levi Tew 54 2 starters