With cheers of ‘go Brian’ heard around the golf course, Brian Matter (Gear Grinder) found himself in battle for the podium with one and then two Rapha-Focus teammates on Saturday’s Chicago Cyclocross Cup New Year’s Resolution. Though the Wisconsin-resident was definitely the crowd favorite, he was not able to match the 1-2 punch thrown at him.
“It was good to have more ‘Go Brian’.” smiled Matter after the race. “Where you’re at a USGP and you’re tenth or eighth, there’s more go for the big teams but two hours north in my home so I have the home court advantage and the crowd, it was pretty nice.”
Under the impetus of eventual winner Ryan Trebon (LTS/Felt), a lead group which included Matter and Jeremy Powers and Chris Jones (both Rapha-Focus) separated itself early from the field. And then, a surge in tempo and a crash was enough to shatter that group.
“Ryan was at the front, I pulled through coming through the start of the first lap, I kind of figured it was me and Ryan and two teammates.” explained Matter after the race. ”Coming out of the pits on one lap, Chris crashed and I rode over the top of him and also crashed. That was when Ryan took off and Jeremy started chasing, and that split it up. Then it was me and Chris kind of working together.”
With a sizable gap to Powers, the duo came back together to give chase, that is until the gap shrunk and Jones sat on.
“For a while, Chris pulled until we got a chance to get back up there, I crashed, but about half way through the race with four laps to go, Chris says we’re getting a little too close to Jeremy.” laughed Matter. “So, that’s when the card came out and I pretty much pulled the next three laps until I bridged up to Jeremy with Chris on my wheel.
For three laps, Matter pulled in the wind. “I was with Brian Matter, I could see that we were going to catch Jeremy, I just sat in and waited until we caught Jeremy, and then we did the 1-2 thing. Poor Brian, he’s riding really well, he’s got the hometown crowd.” said Jones.
Jones and Matter caught Powers with less than two laps to go. Powers, tired from his solo chase went to the back of the trio.
“Brian was riding really well, Chris was also there, I didn’t to play any tactics.” Powers explained. “I wasn’t pulling in the wind because I had been out there trying to bring Ryan back. There’s a point of no return with Ryan but there was a time that I did try to keep him at ten seconds, I was in the wind for a long time, it was extremely windy. When those guys caught me, I let them do the work.”
“I let one of them pull through for awhile and the next technical section I went through both of them and they were sitting on my wheel again.” Matter said.
The three were riding close together up, over and down the muddy hill, powering through the heavy sections for one lap.
Everyone knew that the teammates would attack Matter, everyone including Matter.
“It was Jeremy and I versus Brian. We were just trying to isolate Brian, kind of road tactics and he’s a mountain biker against two road/cross guys.” smiled Jones.
At that point, Matter was thinking of saving a podium spot. “I probably was mostly thinking Jeremy’s got something left in the tank, I know he’s a pretty good rider and maybe I got a shot at beating Chris and making the podium. It seemed like I was gaping Chris in most of the technical sections, and he was coming back and I was just hoping that maybe on the last lap I could get enough of a gap and keep the pressure on.”
Then with a bit less than one lap to go, Powers simply went. “I just made one attack and that was enough.”
Once again it was Matter and Jones, until Jones made his move. Matter explained, “When Jeremy attacked I kind of let him go, and I was like alright let’s get this back to just me versus Chris but after pulling Chris around for the last four laps, he just had a little more at the the end.”
Seconds were enough. “One second here, one second here but mostly on that last straight section through the sandpits.” Matter said of Jones’ attack.
Though disappointed a bit, Matter was already looking towards Sunday’s race. “I feel good. After Bend, I was on the limit of being done for the season so I went up north to our cabin in Northern Wisconsin, and took a good four, five days off and I think it really helped me. After that, I eased back into things and feeling good.” He concluded with a smile, “mañaña.”