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VERONA, Wisconsin (VN) — It took less than half a lap of thick mud to remove all doubt as to whether Logan Owen (Redline) would continue his unbroken string of national cyclocross championships dating back to 2005.
The 17-18 junior men’s race had not even reached the finish arch a couple hundred meters from the start before a massive crash near the front took down dozens of riders. Many would withdraw, and five had to run with broken bikes from the start all the way to the first pit.
Curtis White (Hot Tubes) got the hole shot, followed by Owen and Maxx Chance (Clif Bar). But before the second turn, Owen shot past White and opened a gap.
Peter Goguen (C.F. Racing), in fifth, was one of the last to get past the sliding riders without being delayed, something he pressed to his advantage immediately, moving up to Chance by the first ascent to the course’s high point.
Goguen moved into second over the subsequent railroad-tie run-up and descent as Owen widened his advantage to 15 seconds by pit two, with White trailing another 15 seconds in arrears.
Anders Nystrom (Byrds) was a further 15 seconds back, while Chance had faded to sixth and would fall back much further due to stomach cramps before moving forward once more in the final lap.
By the end of the first lap, Owen had 30 seconds on Goguen and White, who were locked in a private battle. White said later that his strategy had been to “stick with Logan and maybe shoot for the win, but he was on today.”
Owen continued to be “on,” opening a minute gap by pit one, where he took a bike change due to the thick, heavy mud that had replaced the wet, thin, soup atop ice that had featured so prominently in the prior three days of racing.
Behind, Goguen led White into pit two, where both took clean bikes. Nystrom, who was having trouble clipping into his pedals, was being caught by three other riders.
Far out of sight, Owen gobbled up terrain as White’s greater power finally prevailed over Goguen’s superior technical skills.
“Curtis gapped me on the climb after the second pit and just powered away and I couldn’t catch him,” Goguen said. David Lombardo (Verdigris) took over fourth place, followed by Nystrom and Josey Weik (ISCorp).
Heading into the final lap and yanking off his mud-coated white gloves, Owen was a full two minutes up on White, with Goguen trailing at 25 seconds. Lombardo was more than a minute and a half back of him, followed 22 seconds later by Weik. Nystrom, Ian McPherson (Clif), Brady Nolan (Revel), a resurgent Chance, Tyler Schwartz (SDG-Felt), and Ian Haupt (My Wife) were battling for sixth.
That’s just about the way it stayed to the finish, except that Nystrom managed to knock Weik off of the five-man podium, followed by Chance, McPherson, Brady and Haupt.
“I didn’t get the hole shot like I wanted,” said Owen. “Curtis got it, but after we had a little bump on the back side, I just shot right by him. I’m feeling good for [the world championships in] Louisville and hoping for a win there.”