On Sunday, December 4th, the best cyclocross racers in Washington State came to Arlington to compete for the prestigious titles of being the best in a state stacked with talent and rich in cyclocross culture and history. The course was laid out at the Arlington airport park on its Southern end at Smokey Point on a cold, crisp, sunny, beautiful winter day with opening temps in the 20's.
With The Cycle U - PopCap CX team being based out of Arlington, our team had the largest gathering of fans and supporters to cheer on Sean, Chad, Evan, Kristi, and Mel as they fought for glory.
Team riders Evan Renwick, Chad Berg, and Sean Kelsey started just after noon and went to work. Evan competing in his first Elite State Championship, rode a good race, looking smooth in the the grass turns and negotiating the rooty loose chicaning through the trees with ease.
In the Masters race, Chad Berg got the hole shot leading the first half lap and was working with a group of three at the front when he starting experiencing some back discomfort from a minor injury he sustained mid-week. At this point, without the ability to produce good power, he began to steadily lose places and unfortunately faded back into the main field. Sean Kelsey, racing in the 45+ field blew the field away from the start and opened up a large gap by mid race. With only Kona's Dale Plant able to surmount a real chase. As the race progressed, Plant was closing in on Kelsey and in the final lap, he was caught. With Plant now just ahead of Kelsey as they entered the long sandpit, Kelsey went down, and lost the contact. Kelsey remounted giving chase, and finished with a spectacular 2nd place finish. Teammate, Berg came in in 12th with Renwick coming in 13th.
With temps now in the 40's, Cycle U - PopCap women Kristi Berg and Melanie Lewis took to the course. Berg got the hole shot as they entered the trees and in the second turn, Courtenay McFadden went down hard nearly haulting the entire women's field. Berg now had a gap on the rest of the field of 10 seconds. Redline's Cari Studley bridged the gap by the second lap and now it was her and Berg racing for the championship win. Meanwhile Lewis sat in 3rd refraining from pulling up riders in her company up to Berg. Team tactics were used perfectly by Lewis and the duo up front were clear. Eventually, Studley pulled away from Berg to take the win, with Berg coming in ten seconds later for the silver medal. On the last lap, Lewis not wanting to compete with Jessica Cutler of Cuccina Fresca in a sprint, attacked on a fast section capitalizing on a 20 meter gap, and pinned it. The move stuck, and Lewis crossed the line alone for a well executed 3rd place complimenting Berg's fantastic ride.
Sean Kelsey - 2nd Place
Chad Berg - 12th Place
Evan Renwick - 13th Place
Kristi Berg - 2nd Place
Melanie Lewis - 3rd Place
Five riders earning 3 medals in the teams first State Championships was nothing short of a solid success thanks in part to team mechanic Justin Claasen, and team supporters; Dan Renwick, Pat Renwick, Maren Claasen, and Gino Bellizzi.
Following the podium celebrations and medal ceremony, the Cycle U - PopCap team packed up and enjoyed a team dinner/celebration at the Berg's house that lasted late into the evening.
The next and nearly final stop for the season is next weekend as the team travels to Bend, Oregon for the final two rounds of the United States Grand Prix against some of the fastest riders in the nation.
We look forward to keeping you posted.
Again, a big congratulations to Sean Kelsey, Kristi Berg, and Melanie Lewis on their medal winning rides at the Washington State Championships. Our team is proud of their accomplishments.