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Chris Baddick fends off Spencer Powlison for day 2 win at Cross of the North

October 12, 2014
Chris Baddick wins 2014 Cross of the North day 2 men's elite race

Chris Baddick wins 2014 Cross of the North day 2 men’s elite race

[updated 10/17/2014]

Chris Baddick (Boulder Cycle Sport) won the men’s elite race at day two of the Cross of the North by going full-on from start to finish. While Tim Allen (Feedback Sports) took the hole shot and at first seemed like the guy to beat, Evol Racing’s Spencer Powlison emerged as the biggest threat to the British rider’s bid for his first win of the season.

A five second gap separated Powlison and Baddick throughout most of the race. Baddick’s win only became a sure thing when Powlison clipped a course pole with less than a lap remaining.

The start

Allen and Baddick both zoomed away from the start line at full speed, albeit for different reasons.

Allen: “I was just motived for that $35 prime on the first lap.”

Baddick: “The last two races I lost in a sprint finish by half of a wheel length. I’ve realized my sprint is not working this year so I had to go as early as possible.”

Going into the second lap Allen gained about ten seconds over Baddick. Five seconds further behind Brady Kappius (Clif Bar), Powlison, and Russell Finsterwald (SRAM) chased with Taylor Carrington (Turin) dangling off that group. Each man that followed now raced for the top ten, including local Steven Stefko (First City Cycling Team).

Then Baddick arrived first at the maze of tape before the track pitched onto the start/finish pavement at the beginning of lap three.

“I ended up burning too many matches and couldn’t hang with those guys,” Allen later said.

The middle

“I really just put the power down from the beginning and couldn’t really let it up,” Baddick said. “Normally in a ‘cross race there are two or three laps in the middle where it eases back a bit. Today I just couldn’t really do anything but pedal on through.”

Taylor Carrington in the only trees on this year's Cross of the North course

Taylor Carrington in the only trees on this year’s Cross of the North course

Powlison forced that pace, proving strongest of the chasers as Allen faded to third on course. As hard as he worked, so did Baddick; five seconds separated them from the middle until near the end of the race.

Baddick never changed his bike. He knew if he did he might risk giving up the lead. “I had a pit bike. I’m not very good at pitting – it costs me 10 or 15 seconds,” he said. “It’s just not worth it for me to pit.”

With three laps to go Carrington passed Finsterwald. Now fourth on course, he began to nibble away at the space between him and the third place Allen struggled to maintain.

The end

With one lap to go Baddick surged and lengthened his lead over the Evol rider. Powlison’s persistence, however, finally brought him up to Baddick’s rear wheel.

“We did the mud and I was right there, really close to him,” Powlison said. “But I’d gone pretty deep after that mud section and he kind of extended the gap again.”

Whether or not Powlison could have given it another shot will remain an unanswered question. On the twisty downhill toward the pit with less than a lap remaining he snagged a plastic pole. What happened next exactly he couldn’t say. After righting himself he found his bike tangled in course tape.

“My bars were all crooked,” he said. “It was a total mess.”

The bike functioned well enough to conclude the race but Baddick was gone. He cleared the finish line forty-two seconds ahead of Powlison who had gathered enough of a lead throughout the hour’s competition to keep second place.

After the race Powlison reviewed a key moment that may have defined the outcome. “I was a little lazy the first few laps; I should have just gone right with him [Baddick] when he went. I was kind of hanging in there, counting on Russell [Finsterwald] to pull us up to the front.”

Allen held on to third place by four seconds. Carrington got fourth. Finsterwald finished fifth.

“Taylor almost caught me on the last lap,” Allen said. “He definitely made me work for it.”

For Baddick the win was his first of the season and first on the Boulder Cycle Sport team. Like the day’s women’s elite winner Caitlyn Vestal (Feedback Sports), he chose a gentle build-up to the cyclocross season.

“I’m kind of easing into this ‘cross season; I haven’t done too many intervals or anything yet because I want to be fit in December. I’m just kind of racing myself into fitness. So to win is good, especially against Spencer [Powlison] because he’s flying right now. It means a lot really.”

The near future

The Brit’s December goal is the Colorado state cyclocross championships. Subsequently he’ll take a break to rest before training for mountain bike season when he’ll race for the Red Ace Organics team he joined this year. He lives and studies in Boulder, Colorado.

“I race ‘cross as kind of secondary to mountain biking, so I’m not going to race through to nationals,” Baddick said. “I still race [cyclocross] to win; it’s not like I’m just out here training. Every race I start I want to win.”

See the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado website for full results from Cross of the North day two, as well as days one and three.

Spencer Powlison ahead of Tim Allen in Cross of the North's mudpit

Spencer Powlison ahead of Tim Allen in Cross of the North’s mudpit

First pass of the runup after the start

Gallery (more to come)

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