Eckmann Dominates USGP 17/18 Juniors

Only one name has been on the top of the podium at the Greenware US Gran Prix of Cyclocross Men Junior 17/18 races this year, Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes Development Team). The 17-year old German citizen and Boulder resident did it again at the New Belgium Cup this weekend in Ft Collins Colorado.

Winner Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes) pays tribute to USGP leader’s jersey

Earlier this year, Eckmann stated that he is aiming for a podium at the World Cyclocross Championships this year but with his domination at USGP, talk is on in the media about the rainbow stripes.

“Maybe a little bit, I try to put it outside and just do what I can do, every day can be a different day.” he replied when asked if felt the extra pressure.

“I just got to keep my head clear and just do whatever I do and not do what other people tell me to do, except my coach,” Eckmann added with a laugh, “I do what he tells me to do to train. I try to put that stuff aside so I can focus better.”

The weekend was also a UCI race for the juniors, brining along valuable UCI points. Eckmann had already won the first 2 UCI junior races in the USA, Granogue Cross. “I was leading the UCI competition in the World, then after European Championships I moved down to fifth place and now I’m trying to get back up to a good position so I can start in the first row in Europe when I go over.” Eckmann said. He will be racing at the next weekend’s Superprestige Gavere, followed by a local race and the Koksijde World Cup on November 27.

Tables turned, Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel) is now at the front

His closest rival in the past two weekends has been American Jeff Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team) who again finished second in both races this weekend. With 5 wins under his belt, including sweeping the Gran Prix of Gloucester, Bahnson is the favorite for the US National Cross Championships coming up. But first, the finale of the USGP, the Portland Stanley Cup.

“I’m excited for the Portland USGP and Nationals, I really liked it last year it was a fun trip.” Bahnson has been getting stronger and stronger in his plan to peak for the end of the year.

Muddy Saturday. The wintery conditions prior to the weekend brought some mud which for many if not all of the competitors in the juniors field made if their first racing in sloppy conditions this year.

“I was excited for the mud, it’s been dry so far this year, I was excited to get a muddy race.” said mudder Bahnson.

Last year, Eckmann had some difficulty in the muddy races. “I was definitely nervous in the mud a little bit but I just tried to stay cool, have fun and just ride.” His plan was to “let the bike do the talking.”

Again Eckmann went out fast, taking the holeshot and getting quickly a small gap. “I looked once or twice back to see if I had a gap and then after a half lap I found where I could gap him off, mostly at the uphill, just push it really hard. I got a little gap and he crashed so I just hammered a little bit and then just try to keep a nice pace.”

Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes) is solo off the front

Bahnson also had a good start and was limiting the gap until the altitude became a problem for the sea-level resident. “The start felt pretty good, the first laps were good I felt like I was coming back to him a little bit the first couple of laps but about two laps to go I was just feeling like I was running out of air.”

Behind them, a pair of Clif Bar Development Riders. “I was riding I think fourth behind these two and Bjorn Fox who is a teammate and then I got around him, he got back up to me later but then after that, I put in an attack and got free of him.” Zane Godby explained.

Zane Godby (Clif Bar) gets 3rd

15-year old Godby held on to finish third. “It was pretty surprising.” he commented on his result with a smile.

Eckmann identified the turns in the mud as the most difficult. “Since I normally try to go fast around them but in the mud I watch out not to slide away. I looked at the course this morning, found some good lines and just took them the whole race, didn’t have much trouble at all.”

For Bahnson, it was also a turn. “I slid out on a lot of dabs, random places around the course but I guess the turn after the first pit, I think that’s the only time I fell on the ground.”

For Godby, it was simply the mud. “I think it was just riding the mud. Try not to go down.”

Drew Dillman (red Zone Cycling) leads chase group

Andrew Dillman (Red Zone Cycling) finished fourth and Björn Fox (Clif Bar Development Team) fifth.

Faster Sunday. The second day brought a modified course and faster conditions but the tables were turned on Eckmann at the start.

Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel) applies pressure at the front

Bahnson made his way to the front early on, passing Eckmann who had taken the holeshot. And then shades of Louisville when Eckmann dropped his chain on the runup on the first lap.

Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel)

“I saw him bobbling with some shifting problems, I wasn’t really sure what was going on but then I just took that opportunity to get a little bit of a lead, I figured he’d catch up to me but then make him work that much harder, he’d have a little less energy.” Bahnson explained.

At the USGP Derby City Cup in Louisville, Eckmann dropped his chain halfway through and had to chase back on to Bahnson leading to a 2-man sprint for the win. This time, Eckmann knew what to do.

“Last time I lost a lot more time and since yesterday I knew that I could ride pretty good in the mud so I was like alright just keep cool, put the chain back on, keep riding, hammer at the good sections like the uphills where it’s dry, pick the best line in the slippery stuff and do you best, if you fall you fall and just get back up. I slipped a few times, I had to jump off and jump back on.” Eckmann said.

Eckmann chased back from the back of the field all the way up to Bahnson in one lap. The duo then took turns at the front, each taking advantage of the other’s bobbles.

“It was just that one of us would slide out in a muddy section, the other would go through, it was not strategic or anything.” Bahnson said.

Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes)

Then with two laps to go, Eckmann was able to get away solo. “At one point, I had a really good line, I got a gap and then at the uphill section I just hammered and I think he just popped. Before the barrier, around the ride up section, nice and dry and you can get a good grip and hammer up.”

And that was it, Eckmann took another victory. Bahnson took second.

Behind them, Fox had dropped everyone else and pushed on to take third. “I had a lot of fun, more fun today it was a better race for me, I was able to keep my average speed up a lot more, yesterday I was learning about the conditions here in Colorado but today I kind of mastered how to go fast. The new parts really helped the speed and the cornering because they weren’t so ratted up with a lot of riding on it.”

Bjorn Fox (Clif Bar) is now solo in 3rd

Fox was looking behind him once in a while to see the position of the chasers. “I was checking whenever I was in a section but as long as I kept the same distance to them every lap, I saw that sometimes I had a faster lap, sometimes I had a slower lap I would try to keep the distance there because I wanted to stay out of their sight so they wouldn’t think they could ride back up to me.”

Cypress Gorry (Four Unity) finished fourth and Dillman fifth.

“Yesterday and today were the first muddy races that we’ve had, there hasn’t been any mud in Kentucky. I felt good at the start, there as a couple of turns where I just bobbled, slipped out and stuff, that gets in your head and stuff.” explained Dillman who was also feeling the altitude. “Normally I can just power, bridge gaps and this weekend people would pass me, me and my teammate felt the same way, we just couldn’t get to where we wanted to be normally.”

USGP Leader Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes)

Eckmann is assured of winning the USGP overall with 300 points, a 140-pt lead on Bahnson.

Luke Haley (Red Zone Cycling) sits in third, 6 points behind Bahnson. Fox and Dillman are tied with 124 points. (See complete standings)

The finale of the USGP series, the Stanley Portland Cup, will take place on December 4-5.

USGP New Belgium Cup day 1 podium: 1st Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes), 2nd Jaffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel), 3rd Zane Bodby (Clif Bar)

Saturday’s Results
1. Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes Development Team)
2. Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team)
3. Zane Godby (Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross)
4. Andrew Dillman (Red Zone Cycling)
5. Bjorn Fox (Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross)
6. Cypress Gorry (Four Unity)
7. Gunnar Bergey (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
8. Kolby Preble (Clif Bar Development Cyclocross)
9. Jeremiah Dyer (Champion-Systems/Cannondale)
10. Tyler Coplea (Oakley / Squirt Lube / AZ Devo)
11. Luke Haley (Red Zone Cycling)
12. Jeffrey Perrin (RMCEF-Westside)
-1lap. Zachary Semian (Team Alliance Environmental)

USGP New Belgium Cup day 2 podium: 1st Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tubes), 2nd Jeffrey Bahson (Van Dessel), 3rd Bjorn Fox (Clif BAr)

Sunday’s Results
1. Yannick Eckmann (Hot Tube Devo Team)
2. Jeffrey Bahnson (Van Dessel Factory Team)
3. Björn Fox (Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross)
4. Cypress Gorry (Four Unity)
5. Andrew Dillman (Red Zone Cycling)
6. Gunnar Bergey (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
7. Kolben Preble (Clif Bar Development Cyclocross)
8. Tyler Coplea (Oakley / Squirt Lube / AZ Devo)
9. Jeremiah Dyer (Champion-Systems/Cannondale)
10. Luke Haley (Red Zone Cycling)
11. Zach Semian (Team Alliance Environmental)
DNS. Jeff Perrin (RMCEF-Westside)
DNF. Zane Godby (Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross)

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