Wow—what a week of racing. It was a long week of racing and travel for David and some of the other juniors lining up for the Pan American Championships on Friday morning in Falmouth, MA. After racing the Maasmechelen World Cup in Belgium on Sunday, the Koppenberg Cross in Belgium on Tuesday, then flying from Brussels to New York on Wednesday, attending school on Thursday, driving to Cape Cod Thursday afternoon and preparing to race the Pan American Championships on Friday morning, it was quite an eventful and stressful week.
The Pan Am course is a typical New England CX course with many turns, not much elevation, large barriers, sand, some single track and loose sections but mostly hard packed and fast rolling grass. Early Friday morning there was a little moisture on the course from the overnight dew but nothing too slippery, no mud accumulation on the bikes so likely no pitting. The power sections are very short and mostly flat so it’s difficult to pass and proper positioning is very important.
The race was early morning on Friday so that left very little time for warmup or course inspection. The good news was we were still on European time which was five hours ahead, so 5AM felt like 10AM and on Friday morning we were wide awake. After getting his number, David was able to get in a lap on the course and had about 30 minutes to warm up on the rollers. After a few tire and wheel issues and with some help from Adam Myerson of CycleSmart we choose the FMB Slalom and FMB Super Mud tires for his race bike.
Immediately after the start, a group of four including David separated themselves off the front of the race. Eventually the group of four turned into a group of three with each of them taking turns on the front. David looked comfortable riding in the group but he made a dab in the sand with two laps to go and had to work hard to catch back up to the front. At the speed they were going even the smallest mistake could put you out of contention for the win.
At the start of the last lap David attacked on the pavement through the finish, rode smoothly through all the technical sections, and pushed the pace to a new level. The last lap of the race was extremely fast and the front group of three took 25+ seconds off their prior lap times. All three of them posted one of the fastest laps of the day in any race. David led the last lap the entire way and as they came past the pit for the last time with only a few hundred meters left in the race David was holding a small one or two second lead over Ian Ackert and Magnus White. He was able to hold that lead to the finish and win the Junior Pan American Championship.
The Pan American Championship race capped off an incredible week of cyclocross racing for the FinKraft Junior Cycling Team and the Pan Am win was very important for David and the FinKraft Team because it guarantees him a spot on the USA Cycling National Team for the Cyclocross World Championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands in February.
Dillon Cosper also lined up after having a strong domestic season, but coming off a crash in Cincinnati. Not a great start, but he fought back and was in the top group and ended up in 20th place.
A great day for the team and motivation going forward onto the next one.