Rolling Thunder Cyclocross Race November 3rd

Friday, November 16, 2007

State Championships/Katie Compton

The weather is still calling for a rain/snow mix on Sunday. With the polls closing Phil and John end in a dead tie with 9 votes each. The people's champion's have been decided. Who will take the prize??? I hope everyone in town is planning on watching. Mike Beltz is doing a great job promoting the race.

Katie Compton won the first ever World Cup by an American. She beat the competition by 45 seconds, and grabbed the most important victory in US Cross history. Check out cyclingnews or velonews for more information.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

State Championships Preview - Master Men

The master's men has been a fun category to follow this year. Most of the top racers, are still in great form and have high level cyclocross skills. John W has dominated the series standings, but Steve M of late has really been winning big. Other good showings this season; John Fiore raced consistently all year, Tom Sullivan had a couple good races, and John Coulthard was always up there. Props to Byron from Great Divide as well as David Schoening from the Ridley Team, they had great years as well.

With the championship up for grasp, it could be a heated masters race. Here's my picks:

1st Place: Steve Mueller
Steve is a great cyclocross racer. He is consistent from the start of the race to the finish. Since this race is with the B's, look for Steve to win the whole 11am race. He's got great power, and he knows what he's doing on the cross bike. I don't see anyone beating him.

2nd Place: John Wehyrich
The series leader has yet to take down Steve when he's on his game. John had another great year taking down the overall title. If Steven faulters, look for John to capitalize.

3rd Place: John Fiore
John is another great crosser. He raced on the Fort courses all season, and shouldn't have much problem with the championship course. If Beltz makes it technical look for John F to be right up with John W. He's a skilled rider.

4th Place: Tom Sullivan
Tom is the masters phenom this year. He had a couple spectacular performances in the Missoula series, and has placed consistent in the Montana series. If Tom has a good start, don't be surprised to see him with the front group. He's a powerhouse.

5th Place: Walt Chauner
Walt has come on strong in the last couple races. He's a great road racer, and now is into the cross. If he's there this weekend expect to see him up with the leaders.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

State Championship Update

The weather for Sunday is calling for a high of 40 degrees, with 60% chance or rain/snow. Leading up to Sunday snow is in the forcast for almost every day. It will be a cold and slick race!

John Curry and Phil Grove are leading the people's champ pole. I think those are two good picks. Phil seems to be getting a little late season motivation. Although he did attend tri swim practice last night! Sorry Phil, I had to give you crap for that.

State Championships Preview - Men B

Ahhhhh, the men's B. The category that shows us the future of cross in Montana. It's hard to predict the men's B. There's always the possibility of ringer coming in and taking the glory. We saw this happen with Chris Connelly at Rolling Thunder, and Phil Hess at the Helena race last weekend. The Five Valley guys have had a strong showing in the men's B, essentially dominating the with Kyle, Erik, Howard and Ely all in the top 5. Since the championships is at the Fort, it gives these guys an added hometown advantage.

1st Place: Kyle Shannon
You can't not pick him to win. He won both the Missoula and Montana series, and is by far the most consistent rider in the B's. He's got great cross skills, and is a rider for the future. He knows the fort well and should be able to take advantage of certain sections.

2nd Place: Ben Raffato
Raffato breaks up the Five Valley podium. He's only raced once in his life and that was at Woodland Park. He's got a big engine for his xc skiing days, and can push himself past his limits. I've heard he's racing this weekend.

3rd Place: Erik Digby
Erik has been a great racer all season. He's a big part of the FVV domination of this category. He gets better as the race goes on. Watch him at the end of the race to start picking people off. Erik is another rider for the future.

4th Place: Howard Williams
Another consistent performer, Howard has been right there all season. He won the Lubrecht race in Missoula. If the tempo is to his liking watch for Howard to be in the hunt for the victory.

5th Place: Murphy Woodhouse
Murphy is always good for a top 5. He's had a great season in the Missoula series. Murphy is another one of those late charge guys. Watch out for him towards the end of the race.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

State Championships Preview - Women

The women's racing has been competitive this year with climax coming at Rolling Thunder. All three big name ladies crossers raced at Thunder (Michelle, Heidi, and Lisa). With new riders getting in the sport like Anna Clark, Kelly Grove, Sophia Kircos and Megan Gaskill the women's field should gain some more competition next season. Michelle has the lockdown on the Montana series, but who will win on Sunday? Lisa raced tough in Helena, and has proven she is nearly invincible when she's on her game. The Gaskill sisters will also be a threat.

The Montana women's cross scene has a bright future. We need to continue to introduce female athletes to the sport.

1st Place: Lisa Curry
I made the mistake of not picking her for Rolling Thunder. I won't do that again! Boy did she prove me wrong. If she hadn't done any other cross races this year but Thunder, I still would have picked her 1st place for the championships based on that result. Her barriers are a notch above the rest of the ladies. Her race preparation and mental focus can only be matched by Michelle. I think Lisa will take it out hard, and will be tough for any women to grab her wheel.

2nd Place: Michelle Richardson
Michelle has been racing well all season. I first saw her race in Butte and was very impressed. However, she's seemed to have gotten better every race. She had a good 3rd place at Thunder, and a nice win at Herron Park. Michelle deserves to be on the podium. If there is a jam up at the start I think Michelle can hang with Lisa for awhile.

3rd Place: Heidi Gaskill
HG is an incredible talent. In her first full cross season she went undefeated in the Missoula series. She's got the biggest engine in Montana. Her technical skills, and pure power make her a threat in any kind of biking event. I have yet to confirm her racing status for this weekend, but if she's there I think she is the only women who could take down Lisa. She had a great win at Woodland Park.

4th Place: Danyel Longmire
Danyel had a good Missoula series finishing 2nd in the last two races. She is always good for a top placing. Her mental toughness, keeps in her in any race she starts. If any of the top women are having an off day don't be surprised to see Danyel creep into the top 3.

5th Place: Megan Gaskill
Like her sister Megan had a great cross season. The power is there. If her technical skills caught up with her power she would be a huge threat. Watch out for Megan in the future, she's a tremendous athlete. For now she settles for a top 5, and looks forward to spring triathlon training.

Ladies great job this season. Good luck on Sunday.

Monday, November 12, 2007

State Championships Preview - Men A

Men's A cross is interesting in Montana. There's no dominant force. John Curry was the killer early on winning Butte, and Missoula, but mechanicals have kept him out of the hunt consistently. Both Doug and Clint seem to have the power, but we've only seen them in a handleful of races. Frank and Bill are consistent racers, put between the two of them we've only seen one victory. It seems like they were all just one piece away from dominating this year's series. It's good to see strong riders get into the cross scene. This year Ben Parsons, and Bob Presta jumped right in and raced well. With these guys and the addition of some strong B's, the men's A field should be stronger for next year.

The Fort Missoula course's are a different breed. No matter how hard we try the course's always end up being flat and fast. I think using the Fort will change the outcome of the race. It will favor powerful riders. Since the Missoula series was held there, the local riders do have a bit of an advantage. Here are my predictions for the race. Feel free to leave comments - with your predictions???

1st Place: Doug "The Missing Link" Shryock
He's the only one who's beaten all the favorites atleast once this season. Now, we could argue that in some of those races folks had mechanicals, but as we know mechanicals are a part of cross. Doug takes the victory, by using Fort Missoula knowledge, and man strength. He confirms his unreal cyclocross potential. He's the only one who can race in a group and on his own. He's patient in a group, but can get into the chamber if he needs to grab a wheel or go on the attack.

2nd Place: John Curry
He's had a great season in all aspects of cycling. He deserves a podium place. The only time John has not been in the hunt for the victory was because of mechanicals. He's strong enough, and has the confidence. I'm sure most folks have noticed this but he's been riding a steel Bianchi Volpe (touring bike), I used to rock this bike - it's super heavy! Were talking like 30lbs! I think there will be a selection at the front which John will easily make. I also think he will be one of the people pushing the tempo trying to shed riders and get on his own.

3rd Place: Frank Gonzalez
Frank's a great cross racer. He's hot after his first win at Helena, and has the speed to be in the hunt at the championship. Like John, Frank will make the selection. I like Frank's cross skills, and race knowledge, but JC and Doug have a little more power and will slip past in the closing laps of the race. Frank is a killer rider on his own, if he gets by himself watch out. If there is a pile up, Frank will squirt away.

4th Place: Phil Grove
He's got two wins at the Fort this season. He hasn't been racing much recently, but Grove is always good for a result. It's super hard not to pick him considering his natural talent, and what he brings to the table. Like the other guys, Phil will make the first selection. Both him and Doug work well together, and that will benefit both of them. Watch out for the Club Passion Alliance, as Phil will work for Doug and vice versa if one is not feeling well. Grove wants to end his season on a high.

5th Place: Clint Muhlfeld
It's really hard to not pick Clint. He's got like a 50% win rate when he finishs races. I don't know if he's going to show or not, but I hope he does. He really makes the race interesting. The race dynamics change without him. Without Clint the race will start slower, and people like Phil, Doug, and Bill Martin will be able to get their feet underneath them. Doug and Phil would much rather be in a group and use some road tactics, then be in the chamber following Clint's wheel for the first 20 minutes. If Clint is there the hole shot will become crucial to who can hang on. If you don't have a good start your out.

If the race is slower at first, which I think it might be look for Bill Martin, Scotty Herzig, Toby M, and Parsons to be up there. If Bill is near the front early on then that is a good sign for him. I wouldn't be suprised to seem him in the top 3 if that's the case. I like Scotty in this race for two reasons. One he's good on road biker friendly courses with some flats, and two he's an excellent teamate, and will be very motivated to make any selection to help Frank. Also, Scott has a good start so even if someone goes bannanas at the start, theres a chance Scott can hang for awhile. Toby has the local knowledge, and the skills to place in the top 5. I don't know if he's racing or not, but if he is and makes the out, he's one of the best tactical cross racers I've ever seen. At the start the selection will be Doug, John, Frank, Phil, Clint, Scott, Bill, Toby, Ben, and Alex L. A couple guys will get mechanicals, but that's to hard to predict :). Either John, or Clint will push the tempo and shed the first couple riders. Scott, Alex, Ben, and Toby will be the first to go after being in position to help their teamates. The selection of Doug, John, Clint, Frank, Phil and Bill will last unless Clint races(also John C won't like this size). He will not like being in a group this size and continue to attack. If that's the case I think only Doug, John, and Frank have the fitness to stay with him. Eventually it will come down to Doug pulling his famous Fort Missoula block on the last lap, and putting it down for the victory.

Keep in mind this all how I'm picturing it, something completely different is most likely going to happen. Wouldn't it be sweet to have a group at the front throwing tactics and crap!!!! We'll see!!!!