YOUNTVILLE, Calif. - Dexter native Adam Craig scored a repeat win in the Under-23 Men's category at the Shimano-USCF National Cyclocross Championships Saturday.
Craig, 21, started with No. 1 on his back, the honor given to the defending national champ. He initially faced a strong challenge from Oregon's Barry Wicks and a string of young future pros.
Cyclocross is the steeplechase of bicycle racing. Cyclists compete on tight courses that include pavement, dirt and turf and often must dismount and run in certain sections. The cool-weather sport draws both road and off-road racers to this spectator-friendly discipline.
Racers Saturday, however, also competed against heavy rains that turned sections of this Northern California vineyard course into soupy mud. Nearly 1,000 entrants have signed on to race despite the conditions.
"I've been doing a rain dance all week long," said Craig, who is famous for his ability to ride well in sloppy conditions.
Craig admitted struggling in high-speed cyclocross events that require gazelle-like abilities. But in the muck, it's power not prowess that wins cyclocross races.
After Wick's initial blast, North Carolina's Ryan Trebon pushed to the front and then went hard enough to move into the lead. Then he slammed into a puddle, striking rocks on the bottom, and emerged with two flat tires. By the time he reached the pits and made repairs, Trebon had fallen back to seventh position.
And Craig gunned the pace and left Wicks.
As the race closed, Craig opened up a massive lead. He did suffer one puncture, but conveniently he timed it just before the pits and lost almost no time. He finished with a 40-second margin over Wicks.
Trebon may have posted the most impressive ride of the day as he bullied his way through the ranks and finished third.
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