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River City Bicycles Cross Crusade #1

Alpenrose Dairy, Portland, OR, October 5, 2003

Veteran Knapp and up-and-comer Trebon win convincingly

By Brian Witty

More than 500 participants set a new high-water mark for attendance at a U.S. cyclo-cross series showing its growing popularity in the Pacific Northwest

On a glorious autumn day in Portland, a record crowd of 527 racers and hundreds of spectators celebrated the kick-off of the 2003 River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade Series on October 5 at the Alpenrose Dairy in Portland. The crowd was treated to the spectacle of watching reigning U.S. National Champion Ann Knapp (Kona/Kenwood) and up-and-coming Ryan Trebon (Eastern/Kona/CCA) ride away from competitive fields.

The throngs of 'cross participants eclipsed last season's record of 412 by over 100, an incredible turnout that even caught the veteran 'Cross Crusade promoters by surprise. "We sensed that there was a high level of interest coming into this year, but seeing huge crowds in every field was inspiring," said Brian Witty, co-promoter of the series. "Undoubtedly, Portland has the hottest 'cross scene in the country at the moment."

The Alpenrose Dairy is the traditional site of the opening round of the River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade. The high-speed course meanders through the site, including a section through a faux Western village, with the finish within the Alpenrose Velodrome. The fields were challenged with more than a dozen hairpin turns and two crossings of a washboard pasture, including an impromptu mud bog courtesy of a burst water pipe. Despite sunny weather, traversing the bog added an ambiance of authenticity by coating competitors in a layer of mud splatter.

Changing of the guard?

A large field took the start of the Category A Men's Race for a 60-minute race as the temperature climbed into the 70's. The race attracted a deep field as a number of national-caliber competitors have flocked to the Northwest to participate in a series of UCI events leading up to the U.S. National Championships in Portland in December.

Barry Wicks (Kona/Kenwood) went to the front from the start, trying to shred field and let the elite riders duke it out for the victory. On the first time through the finish area after a half lap, Wicks and Adam Craig (Giant/Pearl Izumi) had a small gap over Eric Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood), Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery), Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood), Steve Crosier (K2), Shane Beets (Bike-n-Hike), and Trebon lurking in eighth.

The following lap a group of six had gapped the rest of the field, with Wicks staying on the point in front with fellow espoir Craig hot on his heels. Veterans Knapp, Tonkin and Skerritt followed, with Trebon in tow.

With the opening salvo out of the way, the lanky Trebon made his move on the third lap through the more technical section in the pasture. By the time he passed through the finish area, the North Carolina mountain bike pro had four seconds on the five chasers being led by Knapp. From that point, his lead hovered between four and 10 seconds for the next four laps when the disorganized chase let him go.

Trebon cruised to victory by 20 seconds, with Kona/Kenwood teammates Knapp and Wicks dicing for the remaining podium spots. Wicks had recovered from his early efforts and closed a 20-second gap in the last two laps. With a half lap to go, Wicks pounced and went for it. In a technical section immediately before entering the velodrome for the finish, a lapped rider slowed Knapp. Despite digging deep, Knapp could not recover and settled for third. Craig made a strong charge late in the race to move into fourth, followed by local favorites Tonkin and Skerritt.

The results of the opening round revealed that last year's Espoirs team at the Worlds in Italy - Trebon, Wicks and Craig - have more ambitions for the 2003-04 cyclo-cross season. Last year's Alpenrose winner and former national champion Dale Knapp was the only guy to interrupt a reunion of the U.S team members.

The queen schools her subjects

When it comes to cyclo-cross, one of the surest bets in recent years is that when Ann Knapp is healthy, she is the odds-on favorite in any race, particularly a regional contest. However, Knapp suffered from a disconcerting back injury that marred her early season last year, including a DNF at last year's Alpenrose event. This year she got her revenge.

From the moment the official blew the whistle for the Category A Women's Race, Knapp surged to the front. After a half lap, she had a three second gap over Josie Beggs (Redline/Ritchey), with Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles teammates Rhonda Mazza and Alice Pennington and pro mountain biker Amy Hunter-Dillinger (Sobe) in tow.

While Knapp was continuing to pull away by more than 15 seconds per lap, the rider moving rapidly up the top 10 was Team T-Mobile's Stacey Peters. Peters is at home following a demanding season that included the Giro d'Italia Feminine and several UCI World Cup races. The course favored her powerful style and she moved from eighth on the first lap to fourth within the next two laps.

In the end, Knapp finished more than a minute ahead of Beggs, followed by Mazza and Peters snagging a surprising fourth place. Hunter-Dillinger and Velo Shop's Bridgette Stoick rounded out the top six. With her third place finish, Mazza scored crucial points in the season-long series that she has won the last two seasons.

Single-speed Category Explodes in Popularity
Whether spurred on by the strength training of churning a single gear, the simplicity of not having to worry about shifting, or the lure of winning a fully custom-made single-speed frame from Vanilla Bicycles, the one-speed crew was out in force. An unprecedented 49 racers took the start with the sweet dreams of a Vanilla frame dancing in their heads.

In an effort to bolster their odds, two brave and uninhibited gents opted to take advantage of the "Single-Speedo Rule" that rewards any person willing to race wearing only a Speedo to score double points. A fully clothed John Walrod (River City Bicycles) took top honors in the opening round ahead of Greg Ulrich (Crow Cycles) and Nathan Coffey (Team Oregon).

Preview of Cannondale Stumptown Classic

The River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade moves to Jackson Middle School for the only UCI-sanctioned event of the series. World-class fields will be on hand, including former World Cyclo-cross Champion Erwin Vervecken and former World Mountain Bike Champion Alison Dunlap. The UCI Category 3 race will be held on a challenging course set upon several tiered fields that offer plenty of opportunities for tricky descents and tough run-ups. To complicate matters further, the weather forecast calls for rain for the remainder of the week and temperatures in the mid-50's on October 12.


Category A Men
1 Ryan Trebon (Easton/Kona/CCA)
2 Barry Wicks (Kona/Kenwood)
3 Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood)
4 Adam Craig (Giant/Pearl Izumi)
5 Eric Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood)
6 Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
7 Mark King (Sunnyside Sports)
8 Loren Hanson (Bianchi)
9 Shane Beets (Bike-N-Hike)
10 Chad Swanson (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles)
Category A Women:
1 Ann Knapp (Kona/Kenwood)
2 Josie Beggs (Redline/Ritchey)
3 Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles)
4 Stacey Peters (Team T-Mobile)
5 Amy Hunter-Dillinger (Sobe)
6 Brigette Stoick (Velo Shop)
7 Alice Pennington (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles)
8 Karen Kenlan (Sunnyside Sports)
9 Naomi Gollogly (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery)
10 Kori Kunz (Sorella Forte)

Previous results from the USA