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Yannick Eckmann wins 2012 Colorado Cyclocross States, Allen Krughoff secures second

December 19, 2012
Yannick Eckmann wins 2012 Colorado State Cyclocross Championships

Yannick Eckmann wins 2012 Colorado State Cyclocross Championships

[updated 12/19/2012]

When asked just before the race started how he felt about defending his state championship, Yannick Eckmann said, “We’ll see. It’s not muddy.”

For many of the local riders, traveling from race venue to race venue as the cyclocross season unfolded along the Front Range of Colorado has been like roaming a desert in search of an elusive oasis of mud. The 2012 Colorado State Cyclocross Championships provided the 48 riders starting the men’s open race with more of the same dry conditions – a combination of hard dusty tracks and inch-deep silt with loose soil along the margins. Last year Eckmann won in conditions that were more variable with multiple mud sections.

Brady Kappius on the big-air hill during 2012 Cross of the North

Brady Kappius on the big-air hill during 2012 Cross of the North

Prior to the race Boulder Cycle Sport’s Russell Stevenson described this year’s course, which doubled as Cross of the North, as “flat, fast, technical.” It contained BMX-like features, such as a collection of tight rollers and a bump after a descent that created big-air action during the single speed race.

Despite Eckmann’s pre-race comment, he quickly dispelled any doubts about the performance everyone expected from him due to his strong season thus far. Just one week prior the California Giant Berry Farms / Specialized rider proudly wore the U23 leader’s jersey at the final USGP in Bend.

Race action

Eckmann led the field around the first turn. Then he sped out of a series of U-turns with the hungry Spencer Powlison of Evol Elite p/b Pharmaca on his wheel. Brady Kappius (Clif Bar) pursued, followed by Stevenson and Allen Krughoff (Raleigh-Clement) among other riders as they passed the pits and veered onto a straight-away to the far north end of the circuit.

The riders looped back to the heart of the course, the BMX-like section that led back to the pits and then to the run-up where deep, loose soil rendered running or riding difficult. During pre-ride time a number of riders had tested their ability to pedal the run-up to the top. Some succeeded, turning the pedals in slow-motion over the last few feet and the final steepest part, the top edge. Eckmann rode the entire pitch during practice; he later said he had concealed this fact from Krughoff during a pre-race conversation. Eckmann described this concealment as a tactic; he didn’t want anyone ahead of him on the run-up blocking his progress.

Now during the race, massive cheers rose from the spectators as Eckmann rode all of the steep run-up, as well as Kappius ten seconds later, and Powlison.

Allen Krughoff was the picture of fierce at 2012 Colorado State Champs

Allen Krughoff was the picture of fierce at 2012 Colorado State Champs

On one of the straight-aways, over the barriers, or in the S- or U-turns that took the riders part-way into the second lap, Krughoff made his way into second place. A collection of riders each separated by a handful of seconds followed him: Powlison, the ever-present-near-the-front Brandon Dwight and his teammate Stevenson, Kappius, Skyler Trujillo (Boo Bicycles), Tim Allen of Feedback Sports, Pete Webber (Boulder Cycle Sport), and Allen’s teammate Ken Benesh.

As Eckmann continued to ride in first place on course, Krughoff built a lead of over ten seconds to the next group of riders by the second ascent of the run-up. From that point on Krughoff shouldered one of the hardest positions in the race.

He emptied himself to reach Eckmann’s wheel. He also fended off a rabid group close behind him – Powlison who had recently dubbed himself in a Tweet “the Raymond Poulidor of cyclocross,” Kappius who had given up a shot at a repeat single speed state championship so he could focus on the open race, and the U23 Skyler Trujillo and others aching for a win or podium memory to close out the season.

With three laps down and five to go fifteen seconds separated Eckmann and Krughoff and the chase group trying to take down the Raleigh-Clement rider had lost about twenty seconds to him. Throughout the remainder of the race the gaps between Eckmann and Krughoff and then to the chasers held pretty steady.

Skyler Trujillo ahead of Spencer Powlison on the 2012 states run-up

Skyler Trujillo ahead of Spencer Powlison on the 2012 states run-up

A dynamic battle played out among those chasers. With five laps to go Stevenson took charge. Trujillo took over with four laps remaining, Dwight and Powlison either biding their time or hanging on to stay with the group. With a little over three laps to go Stevenson’s shifters caught a pole. He crashed, rolled a tire, and changed his bike.

Then Powlison made his move. He passed Trujillo. Sweat dripping from his chin, Powlison tried to create a gap and claim third place.

Spencer Powlison at the top of Cross of the North run-up

Spencer Powlison at the top of Cross of the North run-up

Behind them Taylor Carrington and Steven Stefko (First City Cycling Team), then Mike Robson of Moots, Allen, and Webber completed the top ten on course. Stevenson would work his way through this group and finish sixth just behind this teammate Dwight who secured the fifth and final podium spot.

Krughoff conceded some seconds to Eckmann in the next to last lap, and the reverse played out the last time around the course. Eckmann smiled broadly when he crossed the line to become a repeat Colorado state champion. As he approached the finish line for next-best 25 seconds adrift of Eckmann, Krughoff greeted some spectators with high fives. Trujillo grabbed third, Powlison fourth, and Dwight fifth.

The confidence condition

During post-race interviews Eckmann clarified why he had seemed unsure about his chances on the start line, and it had more to do with preparation than anything else. He was feeling “a little bit out of it,” he said, because he had miscalculated the time and had to rush to make it for call-ups. The course conditions didn’t appear to be a factor after all.

“I can ride pretty good in the mud,” Eckmann said. “I can ride in the dry pretty good. That’s exactly what I want.” He went on to say that it was important to feel confident in all conditions, especially in Europe, where the competition is deeper.

“…there’s more riders at your level,” Eckmann said, referring to European racing. “If you tell yourself you’re not good in, let’s say mud, you’re not going to ride good in the mud.”

So forget about mastering muddy or dry. Perhaps the most important condition Eckmann excels in, whether his comments reveal it or not, is all-terrain confidence.

2012 Colorado cyclocross champs podium (l - r) Dwight 5th, Trujillo 3rd, Eckmann 1st, Krughoff 2nd, Powlison 4th

2012 Colorado cyclocross champs podium (l – r) Dwight 5th, Trujillo 3rd, Eckmann 1st, Krughoff 2nd, Powlison 4th

2012 Colorado State Cyclocross Championships, men’s open race top ten

1 Yannick Eckmann, Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized 58:52
2 Allen Krughoff, Raleigh-Clement 59:17
3 Skyler Trujillo, Boo Bicycles 59:39
4 Spencer Powlison, Evol Elite p/b Pharmaca 59:51
5 Brandon Dwight, Boulder Cycle Sport 60:02
6 Russell Stevenson, Boulder Cycle Sport 60:02
7 Steven Stefko, First City Cycling Team 60:11
8 Taylor Carrington 60:22
9 Tim Allen, Feedback Sports 60:27
10 Michael Robson, Moots 60:39

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