By Eddie Clark
(December 4, 2011) HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo.— Front Range cross racers got belted with more brutal cold temperatures and plenty of snow for the second race of the weekend. With all of the cold conditions and the challenging course, Colorado cyclocross racers should be well prepared for the cold wintery conditions expected at the US National Cyclocross Championships in Wisconsin next month.
Singlespeed race winner Carlos Casali (Gates Carbon Drive) was quick to note that, "It's a lot better than it was yesterday up in Louisville. Today, given the conditions and how cold it is, it felt pretty good. I thought the trails are pretty nice, it was suited to single speed."
While it didn't actually snow during the race as it did in Louisville, the cold temperatures did well to keep the ground cold so that the snow covered 3K course stayed mostly free of mud. Second placed singlespeeder Justin Sheldon added, "I thought it was a great course, the sun started to come out with no wind, so it really wasn't that bad once you got going and warmed up."
Race promoters Team Adrenalin did a fine job of laying out a course that maximized the smooth terrain in and around the ball fields of Mountain Ridge Middle School. A straight uphill paved but icy start took racers onto snow-packed grass for long straight-aways that were accented with off-camber corners. There were also a couple of barriers on short steep climbs to get racers off their bikes and running.
In the Women's Elite race, Laurel Rathbun got a solid start to create a gap by the end of the first lap. Rathbun built her gap significantly while Rebecca Gross (Tough Girls) got over her bad start, and quickly started applying pressure going into the third lap to eventually catch and pass Rathbun for her third win of the last three Front Range cross races. Rathbun maintained her pace to take second, and Kristal Boni (Rapid Racing) claimed third place.
Elite Men's racing saw Danny Summerhill convincingly take his sixth win in ACA sanctioned cyclocross racing for this season. In fact, Summerhill has won every ACA cyclocross race that he has entered so far this year, which speaks volumes of his fitness and cross specific skills going into this weekends' USGP cyclocross race in Bend, Oregon.
After Summerhill created a gap on the second lap, the race turned into a battle for second place. Spencer Powlison (Plains To Peaks Racing) and Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) were the two main combatants, and rode wheel to wheel for the remainder of the 60 minute race. With one lap to go, Kappius was riding in second place, and applied just enough pressure to keep Powlison from passing. "I wanted to pass him on the hill up the next to last paved stretch, but he was smart and punched it there so I couldn't come around him. That finishing stretch was very slippery, so it was very difficult to put down the power", said Powlison of his last lap strategy which saw him finish in third place behind Kappius.