Posted by Editoress on 09/28/06
Springfield Oaks 'Cross Report - Michigan
Courtesy Nathan Chown -Cyclissimo / Kona Canada
Last weekend (September 23-24) saw the start of the North American UCI cyclocross season with a pair of races in Davisburg, Michigan. Unlike last year's course, this year the course for the weekend was fairly muddy and more suited for good technical riders as opposed to pure power. For the weekend riders had flown in from Colorado and California, and each day saw a field of about 40 riders hit the line. The favorite for the weekend was Jon Baker from Colorado and he lived up to the billing.
On Saturday I got a good call up and was front row for the start. I hit the start well and had the lead for the first half lap. After 1 lap a group of 4 had formed off the front with Jon Baker, Andy Jacques-Maynes, D. Swanson and I. I fell off the pace on lap 4 with Jon and Andy attacking me on the flat. After this T. Schouten and B. Dwight had bridged up to me and there was a large gap back to the rest of the field. The three of us rode a lap together and T. Schouten attacked and created a good gap to ride in for fourth. Up front Jon continued to ride a solid pace and every lap pulled away from the rest of the field for a solid solo win. In the battle for the last podium spot (yes, five deep in 'Cross) myself and Brandon battled it out for 2 laps until I laid it down on a tight corner and had to run a section. This gave Brandon a 10 second advantage which he held to the line for 5th and me in 6th.
The Sunday race saw the same field but had the addition of Brent Prenzlow (no bike on Saturday). The course was fairly similar with the major change being a very muddy barrier run up and the 10 cm of rain received overnight. The course was extremely slick and sections that were easy the day before were now quite technical.
Again I had a good start and was with the front group for the first lap. Unlike the day before Jon did not wait for the halfway point to hit it and went on lap 2, and pulled away again for the win. Behind T. Schouten made a move on lap 3 and rode solo the rest of the way for second. Behind there was a lot changing of position with 3rd to 6th spots moving around a lot as riders would fall off and get back on the 2 groups behind the 2 leaders. Eventually Brandon emerged and took off on lap 4 to ride away for 3rd. I was doing well and kept in the top five until I decided to forget how to ride my bike and started to have a late weekend yard sale on the last 4 laps of the race. I kept missing one section and would lose 10-15 secs each lap and eventually got passed by a hard charging B. Prenzlow with 4 to go then eventually got caught by the Molly Cameron with 2 to go and lost a few spots to finish 8th.
The new Kona's bikes were great and drew much attention with the nice orange paint job, as the announcer stated I was the rider on the "Bright orange Kona".
Overall the race was much harder than last year due to the conditions and a harder field. It looks like the level of cross is going to be once again at a higher level. As one rider said "there are no more easy UCI races".
Of note: Tara Ross took the win both days in the women's race and other Canadian entries in the elite fields were Karen Watson, Scott Kelly, Kevin Hazzard and Kyle Douglas (who had a podium finish in the Under 23 race). Neil Ross took second both days in the men's B race and each day had much practice at his bike exchanges.
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