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Feedback Cup course delivers well-earned wins to savor

November 2, 2015
Caitlyn Vestal, three-time Feedback Cup women's elite winner

Caitlyn Vestal, three-time Feedback Cup women’s elite winner

[updated 11/3/2015]

Tim Allen found his secret weapon on Sunday’s Feedback Cup cyclocross course. The new steep run-up was short, but a downhill into a corner dropped the riders at the bottom, making it difficult to carry speed and scale the run-up in the saddle.

Allen was one of the few who took the run-up on the bike. A single-speeder, Nic Handy (Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru), rode it as well.

“That’s why they call him the ‘Manimal,’” Allen said, about Handy.

The new course design, slightly modified from last year’s version, wore out riders with longer straightaways, a gradual drag uphill from the lower field into the grass plaza where the finish line was located, and deeper sand.

Allen and his Feedback Sports teammate Caitlyn Vestal, however, thrived in their elite races under an unusually warm autumn sun. Both earned solo wins.

Vestal, winner of this year’s open race at CrossVegas, quickly reached Kristin Weber’s (Boulder Cycle Sport) wheel after the latter took the hole shot in the women’s elite race.

Susie Livingston's got the vibe

Susie Livingston’s got the vibe

By the start of lap two the Feedback Sports rider had made a pass in a corner and led with a small gap to Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Company – Vista Subaru). A larger gap stretched to third on course Melissa Barker (Evol Racing). When Scott-3 Rox’s Erin Huck (now on a cyclocross bike) looked up she saw a sizeable gap to Barker. These top four riders maintained their places and finished with gaps between them. Weber came in fifth.

With Sunday’s victory Vestal has won at all three editions of the Feedback Cup.

“We work all year on this course making what’s here even better and I think this year the course was probably the best yet,” she said. “The guys put in tons of work – we brought in more sand for the sand pit and they made a gnarly run-up on the back side of the course. It’s been fun riding it and seeing the courses progress over the years.”

Feedback Sports, Allen’s employer, puts on the race. While he didn’t have a hand in the design, Allen invested a lot of time in carrying off the event. In addition to earlier efforts, he worked on course set-up all day Saturday, and said he had arrived at 5 a.m. on race day to pound in stakes and string course tape.

Like Vestal in the women’s race, Allen established a margin by the end of lap one.

Brady Kappius (CLIF Bar) claimed the hole shot with single speeder Jesse Swift (Gates Carbon Drive) and Allen on his tail. After churning through the sand pit curve the men descended into the lower field’s s-turns, regained elevation on the gradual climb, and negotiated a familiar run-up. The track then led into a long straightaway and doubled back on itself. After handling double barriers the riders flowed into the western fields. That area housed many corners, including the one that pitched onto the new run-up which Allen used to launch from the pack after he’d opened a tiny gap.

Dan Dombroski on the new runup

Dan Dombroski on the new runup

“Today was all about the run-up. It was a new feature that Lee Waldman and John Shearer designed and implemented last week. So it was brand new to me last Thursday,” Allen explained. “At first I was really skeptical, thinking, ‘Oh man, this is going to throw my game off completely.’ I don’t like to run [the bike].”

To manage his concern Allen practiced lines into the new run-up during one lunchtime ride, he said.

“I decided I was going to master it. I rode it probably 25 times in a row. And I got it. So I was like, ‘OK, this is it, I’m going to ride it, and that’s going to be where I break away.’”

His persistence paid off as the set of strong riders behind – Kappius, Bryan Alder (Training Peaks), Ken Benesh (Evol Racing), Swift, and First City’s Steven Stefko – failed to catch him. Alder set a strong pace for second; that left Benesh and Stefko in a tussle for third which fell to the Evol Racing rider. Benesh said the climb and long straight sections played to his advantage.

“That where I got stronger as things went on because I’m not as good in the tighter stuff,” Benesh said, “so I would have to really work hard through those sections to bridge back up or to get gaps.”

Ken Benesh and Steven Stefko battled for third

Ken Benesh and Steven Stefko battled for third

Benesh spoke from a track-side post-race spot on the grass alongside his wife and daughter. The family-friendly cyclocross atmosphere – for blood families and the greater cycling family alike – has become a trademark of the Feedback Cup. It’s also a driving force for Allen and others involved in organizing the one-day race.

Excited about tasting a victory at the event for the second time, Allen said, “The best part to me is having family, friends, and industry partners all in the same venue. The vibe is so good.”

Partners present in the grassy plaza on the course were Primal Wear, Alchemy Bicycle Company, Oskar Blues Brewery – new sponsor for the Noosa Pro Cyclocross Team, Golden bike maker Spot, and area bike shops including C3 Bike Shop, Pedal Pushers Cyclery, Alpha Bicycle Company, Golden Bike Shop, and Jinji Cycles. Kask supplied helmets for every winner in each category on the day.

Allen was quick to mention the local brewery who supported the event as well, Barrels and Bottles, where he enjoyed a burger and IPA during a break from setting up the course on Saturday.

“The community is so incredible,” Allen said, “and being able to put together a great race in front of that makes it really special.”

For full results, see the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado’s website.

Feedback Cup men's elite race podium

Feedback Cup men’s elite race podium

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