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Summerhill wins repeat cyclocross match-up against Allen in Louisville, CO

November 20, 2013
Danny Summerhill and Tim Allen driving for first at Cyclo-X Louisville

Danny Summerhill and Tim Allen driving for first at Cyclo-X Louisville

[updated 11/21/2013]

What happens when roadie power meets mountain bike agility on Rocky Mountain foothills fields in late fall? Recently it means a fierce fight between Danny Summerhill (K-Edge/Felt) and Tim Allen (Feedback Sports) on a cyclocross course. Both ‘cross riders, Summerhill races on the road and Allen on the dirt in the summer.

Two weeks ago the showdown played out in Golden at the Feedback Cup where the circuit didn’t include one lick of pavement. Allen led early in the first lap. Then an incident behind him slowed the field and helped him open a gap. Summerhill almost snared him but slid out in a corner; he took several moments to recover. With his strong engine it seemed like Summerhill, a previous national ‘cross champion, might still take first. In the end he finished second.

Danny Summerhill on a slippery corner at the Feedback Cup

Danny Summerhill on a slippery corner at the Feedback Cup

Allen never eased up in Golden. He knew who chased him.

Roles reversed last Saturday at Cyclo-X in Louisville.

The two dominated the action early on. Then around the same lap that fate intervened in Golden, it appeared again in Louisville. This time it gathered Allen into its immobilizing embrace.

“Danny was using a bigger gear when he got to the top of that corner, and I was spun out coming up quick and I hit his back wheel,” Allen explained to a teammate while catching his breath after finishing second in Louisville. The rear-ender resulted in a dropped chain for Allen but he remained on the bike.

“That caused me to lose contact,” Allen said. “I was already just barely hanging on so after that I knew unless he [Danny] sat up and waited for me there was no way I was going to get back on.”

Tim Allen at the front during lap 2 in Louisville

Tim Allen at the front during lap 2 in Louisville

And like Allen two weeks before, Summerhill didn’t take any lead over his main adversary for granted.

“With the way that Tim rode last time, that couldn’t have been a harder fought battle between us both,” Summerhill said after Louisville’s contest. “That was a hard race the whole time. So there was really no letting up. Once I got a bit of a gap I had a couple places where I could ride easier than when I was with him but other than that it was just checking over my shoulder the whole time because as you could see the last lap he really turned it on so fast I really thought he might catch me on the finish.”

Race action

Like the elite women, the elite men also started with a left-hander into barriers and a moat of muck. The moat had widened since morning and by the afternoon there was no leaping over it. Unless your name was Tim Allen.

First turn in Louisville -- Tim Allen avoids the moat with a bunny-hop

First turn in Louisville — Tim Allen avoids the moat with a bunny-hop

As Spencer Powlison (Evol Foods) hoisted his bike to shoulder height and jumped in first Allen unleashed his trademark barrier bunny-hop and crossed the moat without putting a foot down. The field ascended the “Bowl of Death,” passed the pit, and quickly descended back to the bottom of the reservoir.

A lead group of six quickly materialized halfway into the first lap with Allen at the front followed by Powlison, W. Grant Ellwood (Boulder Cycle Sport/Junior Cycling), Summerhill, Ken Benesh (Evol Foods) and Chris Case (Boulder Cycle Sport).

Summerhill led by the end of lap one until Allen again bunny-hopped the barriers near the pit, passing him as well as Powlison in the beginning of lap two. They became a front group of three.

“He was definitely just killing me on the one bunny-hop barriers section where I was running it and he was riding,” Summerhill said after the race, speaking about Allen, “and anytime that I would have any time on him he’d just take it right back on that section.”

Ken Benesh exits the Louisville "Bowl of Death"

Ken Benesh exits the Louisville “Bowl of Death”

Benesh now trailed the three men as they headed into the wind to the corners and dips and rises on the far west side of the course. Case fell back to the next chase group which included Ellwood, Bryan Alders (Marin Bikes Factory Team), and Robin Eckmann (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized). Boulder Cycle Sport’s Pete Webber and Brandon Dwight shadowed that group.

Summerhill emerged first from that section with Allen sniffing the dust tossed up by his wheel on the gravelly path. Powlison had dropped back. Eckmann and Alders swung out as a pair after Benesh.

The two leaders had outpaced the chasers by over ten seconds as they worked on lap three. That’s about the time Allen touched Summerhill’s wheel and lost contact. But Allen kept him in sight.

Robin Eckmann second on course in Cyclo-X Louisville

Robin Eckmann second on course in Cyclo-X Louisville

Over the next few laps Eckmann progressed into third and briefly stole Allen’s second place on course.

Alders, a mountain biker, seemed to find his cyclocross home in Louisville. He churned out consistently fast laps that eclipsed Eckmann’s in the second half of the race.

Going into the last two laps over thirty seconds separated Allen from Summerhill. Maybe that was when Summerhill decided to let up that little bit. Or maybe something clicked in Allen?

“The afterburners kicked in. I don’t know,” the Feedback Sports rider said, trying to explain what fueled his late race surge. “I wanted to catch Danny really bad. That’s what I was working for.” And Summerhill knew it.

“We were going hard Tim and I – very, very, hard – and I really thought that Tim once he got any sort of gap would be able to hold it and win like he did the last time him and I raced in Golden,” Summerhill said.

Bryan Alders captured third

Bryan Alders captured third

But the powerful Summerhill, who at times acted as a windshield for the slighter Allen in the extreme wind that frequently bent tall grass sideways on the open course, crossed the line with 13 seconds over his adversary. Alders rode into third. Eckmann finished fourth. Benesh stayed steady on course for fifth, while Webber outpaced the rest to get sixth.

Allen’s result had personal profits. “It was nice to be thinking about the front of the race and not worried about [what’s] behind me,” he said. “That’s a new sensation this year that I’ve never really had before.”

Eckmann leads the Cyclo-X points series. The next race takes place this coming Saturday in Westminster. Look for Summerhill in Los Angeles at Cross After Dark later this month.

For full results from Cyclo-X Louisville see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.

Men's open podium for Cyclo-X Louisville (l-r) Robin Eckmann 4th, Bryan Alders 3rd, Danny Summerhill 1st, Tim Allen 2nd, Ken Benesh 5th

Men’s open podium for Cyclo-X Louisville (l-r) Robin Eckmann 4th, Bryan Alders 3rd, Danny Summerhill 1st, Tim Allen 2nd, Ken Benesh 5th

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks Mary!!

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