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Highland Adventures First Annual East Tennessee Cyclo-cross Classic
Morningside Park, Knoxville TN, January 25, 2003
"Better than the trainer" for Sharp
By Tarik Saleh
The first annual East Tennessee Cyclocross Classic occured January 25th in Knoxville, Tennessee. Promoter John Baker and course designer Tarik Saleh set up a rigorous course in the bowl-like confines of Morningside Park in the downtown area. The course featured a triple barrier, one stair laden run-up and another long steep run-up. East Tennessee did its best to channel Belgium for the race. The difficult course was made more so by 3 inches of snow and one of the coldest weeks in recent memory. A winter sun slowly raised the temperature over the course of the races creating slick mud patches to go with the ice and snow. Pedals, brakes, shoes and stays all clogged with a rock hard aggregrate of ice, mud, snow and grass. All the ingredients for a cross epic were in place. A good time was had by most.
Seven riders lined up for the A race at 11 am. At the whistle Tarik Saleh (Kelly Bikes) took the hole shot and led the field through the icy starting stretch and over the first set of barriers. Indiana resident, Benjamin Sharp (Go Mart), in town for some "warm weather" training, took charge shortly after the first set of barriers and smoothly powered away to a crushing victory. In an ominous warning to roadies everywhere, Sharp was quoted, "This sure beats riding on the trainer". Scott Youker (Southern Cycling Operations), resplendent in orange goggles and full face covering used his running skills to maintain a gap over the rest of the field and take a strong second. After a brief and spirited back and forth, Bobby Whittaker powered away from the one-speeding Saleh for the final podium position. Local trials standout Andy Listes used his bike handling skills to dash to fifth place over Steve Bacon (sco) and Ryan Bolt, both of whom found all the running a bit distasteful.
The B's and Women's race started at 12:15. Gary Chambers (Southern Cycling Operations) pedaled his single speed to the hole shot and a big gap over a strong group of chasers from the Cedar Bluff Cycling team. The ice and snow slowly gave over to mud as the B race progressed. The B's and women faced myriad challenges shifting and clipping in due to the humorously large clots of crud covering their bikes. As the B race sorted out, Chambers, Max Trent and Michael Weber (both of CBC) were involved in a 3 way battle for the lead. Numerous crashes on an off-camber descent constantly changed the face of the race. Toward the end of the race, Trent powered to victory by dealing with the tough conditions the best. Chambers followed him in for second, with Weber taking third. CBC riders also placed 4th and 6th for a great team showing, especially as most of the CBC riders were juniors.
The women's race featured strong teamwork between Jennifer Weaver and Lauren Launen. Again, due to crashes and clogged bikes the lead changed a number of times. In the end Weaver gutted out the victory followed by Launen in second and Daisy Knippen in third.
Thanks to the following people and businesses for their help in putting the race on. Highland Adventures, Tarik Saleh, Curt Roberts, Jason White, donutmeister Alan Rigby, Rachel Raimondas, Lee Marchalonis, Ryan Bolt, Andy Listes, Jim Rivers, the Bike Zoo, Label Industries, The City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department (Joe Walsh, Angela Robbins), Marianne Farmer - Red Bull.
Images by Bruce Cole
Men A 1 Benjamin Sharp(Go Mart) 2 Scott Younker (SCO) 3 Robert Whitaker 4 Tarik Saleh (Kelly Bicycles) 5 Andy Listes 6 Steve Bacon (SCO) 7 Ryan Bolt Women 1 Jennifer Weaver 2 Lauren Launen 3 Daisy Knippen Men B 1 Max Trent 2 Gary Chambers (SCO) 3 Michael Weber (CBC) 4 Jay Defoe 5 Wallace Judy 6 Jeffrey Cunningham (CBC) 7 David Lane (SCO)