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Men’s open ‘cross storm surge at final 2012 Boulder Cyclocross Series race

December 11, 2012
Boulder Cyclocross Series race 5 men's open podium: (l - r) Chris Case 5th, Ken Benesh 2nd, Russell Stevenson 1st, Pete Webber 3rd, Brandon Dwight 4th

Boulder Cyclocross Series race 5 men’s open podium: (l – r) Chris Case 5th, Ken Benesh 2nd, Russell Stevenson 1st, Pete Webber 3rd, Brandon Dwight 4th

[updated 12/11/2012]

While deep gray storm clouds threatened to spring over the foothills and dump snow on the final 2012 Boulder Cyclocross Series men’s open race, two among the twenty-eight starters tracing the edge of Boulder Reservoir generated human-powered storms that swamped their rivals.

Russell Stevenson, like a hurricane drawing strength from nearby water, opened a gap early on the sandy circuit that included dirt and pavement sections; the Boulder Cycle Sport rider methodically stretched out his lead until it measured sixty-seven seconds when he finished first.

Spencer Powlison on the east end of the Boulder Cyclocross Series race 5 course

Spencer Powlison on the east end of the Boulder Cyclocross Series race 5 course

Ken Benesh of Feedback Sports surged mid-way through the race to shake off his chase group mates and earn second place. With double points on offer at this fifth race, Benesh’s effort launched him from fourth to overall leader in the series competition. Spencer Powlison (Evol Elite p/b Pharmaca), who didn’t have a good day, lost the series lead and dropped into second place.

Race action

Tim Allen (Feedback Sports) won the pavement sprint for the holeshot. Almost immediately Stevenson set his plan to lead early in motion. He called the first U-turn “a separator,” and aimed to be the first around it. “…there’s always really one line through those sand pits, and if you’re behind someone that doesn’t have it dialed then you’re off your bike and you’re losing time,” he explained after the race. “Literally I had ten seconds coming out of that U-turn…

Tim Allen wins men's open holeshot at Boulder Reservoir

Tim Allen wins men’s open holeshot at Boulder Reservoir

“If you can ride clean lines through all that sand and just ride your own speed, you just gain and gain and gain,” Stevenson said. “That’s what technical courses do. You just have to lead and be confident in your lines.”

By the end of lap one Stevenson had built that ten second lead to about twenty-five seconds. His lead grew to 40 seconds after lap three.

A big group consisting of Stevenson’s teammates Brandon Dwight, Pete Webber, and Doug Schuler, together with Colby Pearce (Panache Cyclewear – Horizon Organic), Powlison and his Evol teammate Josh Whitney, Benesh and teammates Chris Case and Allen, and Michael Robson (Moots), initially pursued Stevenson. This set of riders broke up by the end of lap two, resulting in a select chase group of Dwight, Webber, Benesh, and Whitney which became three after Whitney fell off the pace. Behind them gaps separated the riders. Powlison rode alone, as did Gage Hecht (International Christian Cycling Club).

Hecht started the race in third position in the overall series. For a good portion of the race he rode in a no-man’s land between the leaders and riders further back who progressed solo or in small groups. Hecht’s support crew said later that he struggled with several mechanical problems, one of which left him crushing only his big chainring for two laps. Three juniors anchored the very back of the field: Adin Baird who would pull out of the race, and then Cade Bickmore and Eric Brunner of Boulder Junior Cycling.

Benesh made his move with four laps remaining. After the race he said, “I shouldn’t have sat in with those Boulder Cycle Sport guys for as long as I did…[Stevenson] just kept pulling [away]. I should have made my move sooner…but I didn’t think I ever really had a chance to reel him in.”

No matter. By jettisoning Dwight and Webber, Benesh leapt three places in the series standings. He later said he benefited from a circuit that he called a “power course,” which he rode “just constant on all the way.” Then he added, “A lot of the guys are a lot stronger with punchy kind of stuff…I’m strongest where there is just no recovery and I keep churning all the way through.”

Gage Hecht rides the sand at Boulder Reservoir

Gage Hecht rides the sand at Boulder Reservoir

Through the last half of the race the top ten pretty much settled into lonely fights to the finish as what little light filtered through the clouds faded.

Earlier in the day kite surfers took advantage of the wind to skip along the reservoir. Perhaps more than one rider longed for a sail to carry him over the sand – except maybe for Hecht; he rode the sandy run-up to the concession building.

Just after the race the promoter identified Hecht as third in the final series standings; however race results posted online indicate Whitney, who role well at race 5 and finished seventh, ended third overall with one point more than Hecht.

States on the horizon

After he crossed the finish line first, Stevenson said he’ll be at the Colorado State championships the weekend of December 15th. When asked about his preparation during the coming week, he said, “Probably the same thing I do every week. A little Wednesday ‘cross, maybe a little dirt road riding Tuesday or Thursday. That’s about it. Not a lot.”

Russell Stevenson wins 5th 2012 Boulder Cyclocross Series race

Russell Stevenson wins 5th 2012 Boulder Cyclocross Series race

Stevenson moved to Boulder in late 2011, has been racing ‘cross since 1998, and is a multiple former Washington State cyclocross champion. He weighs in as a favorite at the Colorado State championships.

As for Powlison, he attributed his sixth place finish to not warming up sufficiently prior to the start. “The effort felt terrible,” he said post-race. “It was super frustrating. I felt really pretty good the last three laps. I should have felt like that the whole race…”

Neither Powlison nor Benesh can be counted out for a States podium result. It should be a great contest.

xxx

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Boulder Cyclocross Series Race #5, Men’s open race top ten

1 Russell Stevenson, Boulder Cycle Sport 46:03
2 Ken Benesh, Feedback Sports 47:10
3 Pete Webber, Boulder Cycle Sport 47:22
4 Brandon Dwight, Boulder Cycle Sport 47:31
5 Chris Case, Feedback Sports 47:46
6 Spencer Powlison, Evol Elite p/b Pharmaca 47:55
7 Josh Whitney, Evol Elite p/b Pharmaca 48:14
8 Colby Pearce, Panache Cyclewear – Horizon Organic 48:19
9 Michael Robson, Moots 48:47
10 Michael Burleigh, Primal Racing – First Bank 49:41

xxx

Gallery with Cat 3 and 4 photos

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