By: Colin Meagher
In what was an amazing finish to a week of stellar 'cross racing in Bend, OR, Katie Compton came out swinging after a bobble, and took the win—her seventh National 'cross title—against all comers. Immediately afterwards, an inspired Todd Wells took not only his third 'cross title in the Men's elite race, but also his third National bike racing title of the season, having also won the National Shortrack and Cross-Country titles this past summer.
Bend, OR was home to some serious battles this past week as the sleepy ranching town of Central Oregon once again played host to the Cyclocross National Championships. The Men's junior race 17-18 saw the heavily favored Jeff Bahnson claim his richly deserved stars and stripes jersey. That race was immediately followed by the Men's U23 race, which saw a battle royale between reigning champ Danny Summerhill and the heavily favored Zach McDonald, with Summerhill taking the title aboard his phlegm colored Ibis Hakkalügi. It was an amazing duel, and at the end of it all, Summerhill showed true class by waiting for his rival at the finish line. And just when it couldn't seem to get any better, the Master's men 35-39 race went down, and was an absolute bare-knuckle brawl. After 45 minutes of pain, a disappointed Russell Stevenson was forced to concede to Jonathon Baker.
But all of this—along with the Clydesdale race and the Deschutes Brewery Warehouse party—were just appetizers for the 'cross fans gathered here to see the elites go toe to toe on Sunday. And that show was worth the wait.
The elite women saw Katie Comptom make a rare mistake on the start grid (slipping a pedal) and get caught in traffic as a result, allowing Georgia Gould to get away. For a half a lap. Then the Planet Bike rider was able to get away from the pretenders and begin a single-minded pursuit of the Luna rider. After a single lap, Compton had the lead and continued to pad it out as much as possible: after all, losing a race like this is only one inopportune mechanical away. For her part, Gould never threw in the towel, but was simply unable to close the gap to Compton.
"She can be beat, but not today," quipped a disappointed, but smiling Gould.
Behind Gould, Meredith Miller managed to overcome a first lap crash to move up to third, but was never able to recover enough to challenge the Luna rider.
Bend transplant Ryan Trebon was eager to make up for last year's loss on what many argued was "his" course. Changes to the track heavily favored a powerful rider like Trebon, with a number of long straights that offered opportunities to close down gaps or power away from chasers. He took the opening straight and the subsequent hole shot, but a wily Jeremy Powers got by on the inside of the second straight and started hammering away on the rest of the field. Meanwhile, in his wake, a quiet Todd Wells was gathering steam and closing in. Midway through the second lap, it was a thriller, with Powers and Wells shoulder to shoulder. Heading up to the flyover, though, the two riders tangled and kissed the dirt, with Wells getting back aboard sooner than Powers. From there, the Specialized rider was full gas. An inspired Trebon caught and passed a disheartened Powers, and while he was making up ground on Wells, ultimately, Trebon ran out of real estate, finishing second. Powers was able to hang on for third.
Wells dedicated his win to former coach Jerry Hutchinson, who passed away six weeks ago. "I wanted to dedicate the race to him and get a victory,” explained Wells. “I was thinking about him the entire race, and I felt like he was with me out there.”
Behind Trebon, the powerful Cannondale squad flexed its muscles, putting Powers, Tim Johnson, and Jamie Driscoll on the podium.