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Canadian DOUBLE Victory as Clark and Van Den Ham Win Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup on Day 2

by pedalmag.com

November 19, 2017 (Indianapolis, Ind.) – Sunny skies greeted competitors for the second day of the 2017 Major Taylor ‘Cross Cup in Indianapolis. The torrential rains from Saturday left their mark on the course at Indy Cycloplex, turning any surface other than the paved area at the finish into swamp zones and mud bogs. But the absence of sunlight instead of lightning was welcome for UCI races for Junior 17-18 Men and Elite Women and Elite Men.

Canada’s Tyler Clark wins the Junior Men’s race  ©  Ethan Glading
The first points for USA Cycling’s Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) went to Tyler Clark (Kms Cycling – Killington Mountain School) of King City, Ontario. Clark, the U19 Canadian National Champion, set the pace early with Lane Maher (Hot Tubes Development Cycling Team) of Harwinton, Conn., the winner of Saturday’s race. Sam Noel (Cannondale P/B Cyclocrossworld Devo Team) of Shelburne, Vt. was not far behind. Line choice was huge for these riders as they entered into the mud bogs on the lower half of the course.

“Today it dried up in the boggy sections, and that suited me a bit better,” said Clark about the course. “It wasn’t as much power, and I could ride most of the off camber stuff, which helped a lot against everyone else. When it gets technical, it gives me a bit of an edge.” Eventually, Clark attacked and dropped Maher and Noel. With one lap to go, Clark had a large gap and would take the win. When Noel bobbled, Maher got away and grabbed the silver by 11 seconds.

“I just tried to get to the front for the first technical off camber section, and kind of rode from there,” added Clark about improving on his third-place finish from Saturday. “From there I tried to open up a gap and hold it for the rest of the race.”

Junior men’s podium  ©  Ethan Glading
In the UCI Elite Women’s race, it would be 38-year-old veteran Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team) of Ballwin, Mo. holding off charges from a flurry of youngsters to get the double win in Indianapolis.

Twenty-year-old Katherine Santos (Marian University Cycling Team) of Louisville, Ky. took the holeshot and led a group of five that included 20-year-old Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective) of Madison, Wisc., 26-year-old Jen Malik (American Classic Pro Cyclocross Team) of Columbus, Ohio, 16-year-old Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co. – Groove Subaru) of Littleton, Colo., and Gilbert. The group switching up constantly, with riders having to decide whether it was faster to run or ride their bikes through the deep mud.

“I got out really fast, and hit that first mud corner and started pumping my legs. Then someone ran past me. So I looked at them, looked down at my legs, and I jumped off my bike and started running. That became the new race plan,” said Gilbert. “I come from a running background, so it’s sort of natural. I do like to ride my bike! Today it was all about what is going to be faster. In the end, running ended up being faster.”

Keep in mind, Santos, Swartz, and Malik all raced a few hours earlier for the collegiate event,with Swartz taking the win. Gilbert and Clouse soon created a gap on the other riders. Swartz was hanging on to third, but Malik was not far behind.

With one to go, Malik was able to get around Swartz due to a few mistakes in the mud. Gilbert furthered her lead and made it two-for-two. Clouse finished in second, for a second day in a row.  Malik grabbed the last podium spot, two second ahead of Swartz.

“A race is a race, and each day is a new day. Katie is on top of her game. Emma (Swartz) obviously is on good form, having won a collegiate race earlier in the day, and I didn’t want to give anything away,” Gilbert smiled after surviving the hard-charging youngsters.

Michael van den Ham wins the Elite Men’s race  ©  Ethan Glading
In the UCI Elite Men’s race, Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Company – Groove Subaru) of Parker, Colo. moved himself straight to the front. It looked like it would be a repeat from Saturday, when Hecht dominated for the win. However, Canadian Michael Van Den Ham (Garneau – Easton Cycling P/B Transitions Life Care) stayed close by and took advantage of an opportunity to grab the victory on Sunday.

“Just like yesterday, Gage started out like a rocket and got a gap, I think on the second lap,” said van den Ham. “At that point you have to just keep on pressing. You never know what is going to happen on a course like this. Twenty seconds isn’t that much of a gap. Anything can happen, when someone crashes or starts to blow up that gap shrinks really quickly.”

Each lap Hecht seemed to stretch his lead to that. With one to go, Hecht had a huge lead. When the riders came off the hill into the last pit of the race, van den Ham made the pass around Hecht. With less than a half lap to go, he slowly kept inching away from Hecht through the mud puddles and the barriers to reach the finish line for his first UCI win.

“With one to go, Gage still had about 20 seconds on me,” van den Ham explained. “I guess he was really hurting on that last lap. I ended up catching him on the last time through the pits. Yeah, I just put in a big dig. I am really happy with it. I am really  happy that I kept on pushing through the whole race, didn’t give up. In the end it made all the difference.”

Elite men’s podium  ©  Ethan Glading
Meanwhile, Drew Dillman (Think Green) of Fairdale, Ky. and Eric Thompson (M Speed Wax) of Shoreview, Minn. continued to battle for third. By the third lap, Thompson was able to run past Dillman and created a slight gap for the remainder of the race and secure third.

“I’m pretty happy with it,” said Hecht about getting a second podium for the weekend. “I think in general it was easier (today). The big boggy section really wore on you, and I think that is what killed me. I bonked really hard the last lap, so I was a bit rough. Michael had a heck of a race. It was pretty surprising to see him ride up on my tail on the last half lap.”

After a break during the Thanksgiving holiday, ProCX races return with two events Dec. 3-4 – Ruts N’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Okla. and NBX Gran Prix of Cross in Warwick, R.I. Ruts N’ Guts will feature the final Category 1 event of the year for Elite Women and Elite Men. NBX Gran Prix of Cross will feature C2 races and will be the final installment of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart.

Results (brief)

Junior Men
1. Tyler Clark (Can) KMS Cycling – Killington Mountain 37:45
2. Lane Maher (USA) Hot Tubes Development Cycling 37:58
3. Sam Noel (USA) Cannondale P/B Cyclocrossworld 38:09
4. Dylan Kerr (Can) Angry Johnny’s Evolution P/B Norco 39:32
5. Colton Woods (Can) Trek Store CC 39:42

Elite Men
1. Michael van den Ham (Can) Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions Lifecare 1:02:13
2. Gage Hecht (USA) Alpha Bicycle Company – Groove  0:23
3. Drew Dillman (USA) Think Green 1:20
4. Eric Thompson (USA) M Speed Wax 2:16
5. Brannan Fix (USA) Alpha Bicycle Co.-Groove Subaru 2:52

10. Brody Sanderson (Can) Centurion Next Wave 5:38
15. Isaac Niles (Can) Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions Lifecare -2 Laps


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