Taking advantage of a bobble, Luke Keough (Champion Systems p/b Keough Cyclocross) took off flying from the 3-rider lead group and soloed to victory at 20th Cycle-Smart International. That made it a sweep for the 19-year old Keough who is younger than the oldest running UCI cross race in the US. Twenty-five seconds later, race founder Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart) took the sprint for second place ahead of Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage / Scott).
For Keough, it was his first solo victory since being a junior, two years ago. “I haven’t gotten to ride away from anyone since I was a junior and it felt good. It’s a whole other race, it’s different than sprinting, it’s different than sitting around.” he said. A sweet victory for the 19-year old giving a sweep in a race older than he is.
Non-stop shuffling and re-shuffling at the front of the Elite Men’s race where the modified course and the wind changed completely the dynamics of the racing on day 2 in Northampton Massachusetts. A few names were constantly at the front, the Keough brothers Luke and Nick wearing the U23 Series leader’s jersey, Series leader Lindine, Myerson, Luca Damiani (El Gato), Jerome Townsend (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage / Scott) and Dylan McNicholas (Pedro’s) to name a few.
Then separation happened and Damiani, Luke Keough, Lindine, Myerson and McNicholas were off. The pace was high, mistakes were being made but they stayed together until a bobble led to a gap and three were off, Lindine, Damiani and Keough.
The three kept pushing the pace taking turns at the front. Keough was at the front leading the trio into the descent when Lindine crashed when he got tangled up with course tape. Damiani was close by, tried to avoid him and sliced his leg open with his chain, after a quick look down, Damiani pulled off and got attended to immediately by the EMTs. He is fine after getting 16 stitches in his leg.
Back in the race, Keough put his head down and pushed it, he knew this was the moment. Lindine pitted and got a new bike and joined up to the Myerson and McNicholas chase group. That’s how it stayed until the finish. With determined glare, Luke Keough focused on riding cleanly and slowly increased his gap one second at a time. Behind, Lindine gave chase first thinking he could catch the solo rider and then once realizing that was impossible, he changed his goal to the fight for second place. A fight that came down to two men, Lindine vs Myerson. On the final lap, Lindine put in dig after dig but a hurting Myerson hung on and then used all his experience to put in a move on the final corner to the pavement to take the sprint for second.
With his third place finish, Lindine kept his hold on the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series leader’s jersey. McNicholas finshed fourth and fifth place went to Nick Keough who maintained his lead in the U23 competition.
Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross). “I knew it was going to be a bigger group today without the runup and all the wind, it’s easier to sit on, the course is a little faster so that’s what made the big group. I tried to stay in there, stay up towards the front and a little bobble happened, people went down and that’s where I made my move and try to hold it as long as I could and held it to the finish.”
How much risks are you taking once solo? “I was super conservative through the turns which was probably a little slower but I knew I had to stay smooth and not make any mistakes because that’s all it takes, one slip and they’re back.”
Concerned about the chase? “Lindine was definitely chasing hard and he was definitely taking risks in the corners, he was fast in the corners because he was pushing it but I knew I just had a little gap and I just kept open it up second by second and to push on the pedal as hard as I could.”
How does it feel? “I haven’t gotten to ride away from anyone since I was a junior and it felt good. It’s a whole other race, it’s different than sprinting, it’s different than sitting around.”
Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart). “You just look around and you’re like, wow I threw this party. When you realized that for 20 years you’ve been responsible for, with lots of help and different people over the years, but when you’re responsible for this kind of event, I don’t know it’s big. You don’t realize it. Even just ten years ago, we would set the course the morning of the race with surveyor’s flags (laughs), you know what I mean. And now look.”
What was different today, course change, wind? “Both. We used a lot of the same lanes but in reverse, the run up was missing so the rhythm of the race today was very very different. Yesterday was once much more technical, more starts & stops. Today was more open, more hard pedaling but there was still little places to make selections like the ride up. Part of the reason I had such a hard time early was because guys were making mistakes in front of me on the ride up and the leaders were riding over the top and I had to get off halfway and run because they were brake checking each other and falling. So for a couple of laps instead of riding strong, I was using every match I had just to re-connect and that’s how Luca got away. I got gapped in the sand and those guys were gone. I couldn’t follow them but they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t keep riding that way and it gone down to two of us, I guess.”
Why were they riding that way? “The thing they were riding, Tim, Jeremy and Ryan can do it for 60 minutes and the guys that were riding in the second group, they could do it for ten. And what happens is that they were riding Tim and Jeremy’s pace and then they started making mistakes, well I can’t do that at all so I ride my own tempo and I just was persistent and consistent. I rode the pace I can ride for 60 minutes and that’s why I had matches left in the end.”
About the final lap. “I don’t know if you saw but I was pedaling with my hands, my legs, anyway I could feel my bike and I just tried not to give up. From setting up the course and being out here early I must have walked five miles today, my back is killing me, my hip flexors are ruined, the whole race I kept having to sit up, stretch my back and that’s part of why I couldn’t stand up out of the turns. So for a lot of sections I had to let the gap go, stay in my saddle, just pedal as hard as I could and not give up. Using my technique through the turns, over the barriers, I’d get mack on everytime. And the drafting mattered, I’d catch back and rest. Justin was much stronger than me, I used every match I had to beat him to the last corner. Yesterday, I tried the same move and Nick sprinted me all the way through the turn and I had to give up. Today with Justin who is not quite as quick as Nick but I was literally willing to crash, I did not stop pedaling until I got to the turn. Justin had the inside, he could have taken it, and I almost dared him to do it and he just hit his brakes first. Yesterday with Nick, he did to me what I did to Justin today.”
Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage / Scott). “I went home and I actually took an ice bath which was unpleasant but it made the bruises and everything else feel a little bit better. I just tried to stress a little bit less about today, try to treat it like any other race and not get psyched out about it. I think it went pretty well, I made one little mistake and unfortunately I think Luca got a little bit caught in it too. The wind blew the course tape into my shifters and I just went down immediately, I shouldn’t have been that close to the tap maybe. I feel a lot better today, it was a little bit less errors, the form is there so if I could just dial back the mistakes, one of these days it will happen.”
About taking risks today. “Definitely there were a few times and following other people’s lines is a little tricky, you’re not quite sure if you’re going to make it but you just shut that part of your brain off a little bit and hope for the best. It was a little bit less greasy today so that helped, it was easier to cary a little more confidence through dry turns.”
Were you battling for second or trying to chase Keough down? “For a little while I was trying to catch Luke, I thought maybe when it was between ten and twelve seconds, I thought we might be able to get him back but with Adam right on my wheel, it’s always a loosing proposition because if I can’t shake him I know I’m probably not going to win the sprint. So at one point Luke opened it up a little bit more and it became evident that we were probably racing for second and at that point for me the best defense is being on the offense with Adam so I kept trying to push it and hope maybe I’d get a little gap.”
About the attacks on the final lap. “There were a few spots that were tactically interesting, like everybody wanted to get to the ride up, run up first and we had a little bit of a battle going for that, he took it but I managed to get back up around him in the woods and the sandpit was decisive, everybody wanted to hit that first. Adam is really good at the turns and snapping out of the turns with accelerations so I was trying to out-power him something in the straights but it was a give and take. ”
Top 10 Elite Men Results
1. Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross)
2. Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart)
3. Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage / Scott)
4. Dylan Mcnicholas (PEDROS)
5. Nicholas Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross)
6. Andrew Wulfkuhle (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)
7. Manny Goguen (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage / Scott)
8. Christian Favata (Favata’s Tablerock Tours and Bikes)
9. Weston Schempf (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes)
10. Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com)