The first eight rainbow jerseys of the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross Masters World Championships were awarded Thursday at Champions Park in Louisville, Ky. The ever-changing weather proved to be a factor in Thursday’s racing as competitors overcame snow, mud, gusty winds and plummeting temperatures throughout the course of the day. The changing weather affected the course in different ways and forced the riders to carefully choose lines throughout the course. Some areas retained the moisture from Tuesday’s rain leaving a viscous mud behind while other segments began to dry out leaving a sticky mud behind.
Americans secured six of the eight rainbow jerseys and 19 of the 24 total podium spots.
The host country took the top three spots in the women’s 40-44 world championship contest. Susan Butler (Portland, Ore.) got the holeshot and did not relinquish her lead to record a time of 29:12. Kristin Weber (Boulder, Colo./Boulder Cycle Sport), who started in the back row of the 19-rider field passed all but one rider enroute to placing second. Weber elected to run with her bike for much of the back straightaway to make up ground on Butler, but not enough time to overtake her and Butler won by 38 seconds. Linda Sone (Northfield, Minn./Crossniacs) placed third, 58 seconds behind Weber.
“This was the most painful 35 minutes of my life,” Butler said. “The bikes were so heavy and the brakes were full and I was hoping my back would last through this.”
The Americans swept the three spots of the women’s 30-34 podium. Kari Studley (Bothell, Wash./Team Redline) finished her three laps in 46:18 to earn the rainbow jersey. Brianne Marshall (Durango, Colo./NoTubes Endurance Racing) placed second while Andrea Wilson (Cordova, Tenn.) finished third.
“That was the slowest race of my life,” Studley said. “It was about keeping the power steady. At the start line I noticed my front tire was flat, so I had to switch bikes. And then 10 seconds before we started the race, I noticed I was in the small ring, so I started to shift while the race started and so, I was hoping that I got all my mechanicals out of the way on the start line.”
After several near misses, Henry Kramer (Menlo Park, Calif./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) earned his rainbow jersey after completing his three-lap race in 37:43, topping all 80 riders in the men’s 55-59 field. Kramer fought from the middle of the pack to the front, before holding off a hard-charging Randy Shields (Winston Salem, N.C./Hearts Racing Club), who was only four seconds behind Kramer. American Thomas Hayles (Aspen, Colo.) finished third, only 22 second behind Shields.
“It was so hard,” Kramer said. “You’re pedaling and pedaling and you can’t go. I didn’t know if I could manage till the end, but I just kept digging.”
Antonia Leal (Waukesha, Wis./Planet Bike) topped the women’s 45-49 field with a time of 30:36 to secure the world championship. Leal won the holeshot and never looked back as she coasted to victory. Shannon Gibson (Durango, Colo./Stan’s NoTubes elite women’s Team) placed second, only 11 seconds ahead of Geraldine Schulze (Cincinnati, Ohio/Bio Wheels Racing), who earned the bronze medal.
“It was all power. There was no resting,” Leal said. “I told my students back at school and a little girl came up to me and said ‘Mrs. Leal, that would be so great if you came back as world champion’, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to do it now.'”
The day’s final race was also its most tightly contested. James Laird (CAN/First Capital Cycling) won a four-rider showdown to best the men’s 60-64 field. The first four finishers completed the race within eight seconds of each other. Laird emerged victorious, just five seconds ahead of D. Douglas Long (Chillicothe, Mo./C360 Racing-USA) and just eight seconds ahead of Harold Parker (Lenexa, Kan./360 Racing). Parker won a two-rider sprint over Buff Hopper (Everett, Wash./Team Double Check) to claim the third step of the podium.
Steve Tilford (Topeka, Kan./TradeWind Energy Cycling Team) earned his second world championship in cyclo-cross when he bested the 62-rider men’s 50-54 field with a time of 31:58. The strong Canadian rider, Peter Lawrence (Soul Sportif Racing), challenged Tilford in the opening segment of the race, but finished 1:27 back in second place. Gunnar Shogren (Morgantown, W.Va./Backyard Bike Club) overcame an early mechanical to place third, 1:10 behind Lawrence.
“I’m relieved,” Tilford said. “I would have loved to have a watt meter out there. There is no bike handling at all involved. It was just trying to pick the wet lines. Anything that’s not wet was sticky. It was fun but this takes all the skill set out of it.”
The day’s first race results in Great Britain’s Victor Barnett (Welland Valley CC) repeating as the men’s 65-69 world champion ahead of Rick Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Excel Sports Boulder) and Robin Willard (CAN/Oak Bay Bikes).
Racing alongside the men’s 65-69 race was the men’s 70-and-over field. American James Wagner (Auburn, Wash./Bike masters-WA) ascended to the top step of that contest after he bested the field with a time of 42:52. Great Britain’s John Ginley (Condor Road Club) earned the silver medal while Joe Saling (Bridgewater, N.J./Somerset Wheelmen) rode away with the bronze medal.
“It’s wonderful,” Wagner said. “I wanted this one so bad. I trained so hard. I love the epic conditions. These are true cyclo-cross conditions. My bike got so heavy (with mud) I had a hard time pushing it up the hill.”
The 2013 UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships conclude Friday with the awarding of eight more rainbow jerseys. World champions will be recognized in women’s 35-39, 50-54, 55-59 and 70-and-up. The men’s world champions will be settled for men’s 30-34, 35-39, 40-44 and 45-49 on Friday.
The races on Saturday and Sunday will be streamed live by the UCI and carried live by USA Cycling. Saturday’s races feature the under-23 and juniors 17-18 while Sunday’s contests will crown the best elite men and women. The first race on Saturday and Sunday will be at 11 a.m. while the second race is slated for 2:30 p.m.
2013 UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships
Jan. 29-Feb.1, 2013
masters Men 50-54
1. Stephen Tilford (Topeka, Kan./TradeWind Energy Cycling Team) 31:58
2. Peter Lawrence (CAN/Soul Sportif Racing) +1:27
3. Gunnar Shogren (Morgantown, W.V./Backyard Bike Club) +2:37
masters Men 55-59
1. Henry Kramer (Menlo Park, Calif./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) 37:43
2. Randy Shields (Winston Salem, N.C./Hearts Racing Club) +0:04
3. Thomas Hayles (Aspen, Colo.) +0:26
masters Men 60-64
1. James Laird (CAN/First Capital Cycling) 44:05
2. Douglas Long (Chillicothe, Mo./360 Racing) +0:05
3. Harold Parker (Lenexa, Kan./360 Racing) +0:08
masters Men 65-69
1. Victor Barnett (GBR/Welland Valley CC) 41:47
2. Rick Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Excel Sports Boulder) +0:26
3. Robin Willard (CAN/Oak Bay Bikes) +0:34
masters women 45-49
1. Antonia Leal (Waukesha, Wis./Planet Bike) 30:36
2. Shannon Gibson (Durango, Colo./Stans NoTubes elite women’s Team) +1:08
3. Geraldine Schulze (Cincinnati, Ohio/Big Wheels Racing) +1:19