Danny Summerhill Takes Third at Derby City Cup

The USA Pro CX tour moved from Ohio to Kentucky this weekend, with the famous Derby City Cup. The course in Louisville gained fame after the 2013 World Championships were held at the Eva Bandman Park. The challenging terrain suited the Team Maxxis-Shimano riders well, with Danny Summerhill claiming a place on the podium on day two, and Erica Zaveta riding a successful and consistent race on Saturday to break into the top 10.

For Summerhill, it was a great feeling to be back at the head of the race, “From the start I stayed at the front covering Jeremy [Powers] and the Cannondale boys, and it was basically attack after attack all race long.” As the moves started flying towards the end of the race, Summerhill was perfectly positioned in the lead group. A small tangle with Raleigh-Clement rider Jamey Driscoll was enough for the lead to disappear, but Summerhill fought for the final position on the podium.

Summerhill was pleased with the race, and is looking forward to the second half of the season, “All in all it was a great weekend with some great new bikes to race on. I can’t wait to race again.”

For Erica Zaveta, racing in the top 10 of the UCI C1 event on Saturday was a huge confidence boost, “I like technical courses that have multiple lines to chose from, it makes for a more thoughtful approach.”

As in all cyclocross races, the start can determine the rest of the race, and Zaveta rode a flawless first lap to set up her strong finish, “I had a good start and kept myself away from the crash on the pavement start and the mud pit. I rode smooth and efficiently and worked my way closer to the front, finishing for 9th.”

In a race that weighed power and skill equally, the result is validation that Zaveta can race with the best in the US for the rest of the year.

“As the weeks go by the team gets tighter and even more dialed every time. This weekend was no different – the staff killed it for us both days” – Danny Summerhill

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Yannick Eckmann, who joins Team Maxxis-Shimano as a mid-season addition, raced strongly on both days, and reacted well to his brand new Parlee Chebacco. The German born rider is now based in Boulder, Colorado, and will be racing the remaining Pro CX calendar building up to US National Championships in January.

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Routine, It’s all About Routine.

Routine. It’s all about routine. Successful business people know their routine breeds efficiency and effectiveness. NBA stars know their routine before every free throw. In the same nature, successful bike racers all have race day routine. This repetitive nature (sometimes completely crazy!!) is the known factor that calms the nerves and sets an athlete for top performance.

 

It’s taken me a month of cyclocross racing to figure out what my routine should look like. Do I spin in the morning? What time do I get to the course? If the race is at 4:00, when and what do I eat? How does my warm-up flow? When do I pre-ride? How do I figure tire pressure? Do I need to ride both bikes the day of the race?

 

It all seems like questions I should have the answers to after 8 years of racing professionally on the road and on the track. But, AHHHH!!! Yes, that’s me screaming. It’s not the same. Cyclocross is not the same. I feel like a junior. Wait, I take that back because most the juniors who race cross know how the race days flows! As a quick side note, they don’t need to warm up like I do. Those darn 14 year old legs just don’t care as much as mine! So, I feel like an old pro learning how to handle a race day just like the rookie I am.

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My first international track cycling race was as a sprinter at the Pan American Championships in 2009. After coming within 1/100th of national record and setting a Personal Best of 11.1 seconds in the 200m, I learned that I had raced that time trial in my warm-up gear. Was it the mechanics fault? Not really. The rider is always responsible for his or her equipment. Since then, and until my last international track competition last year, I’ve had my routine. From the time I arrive at the velodrome to racing, I check my gearing and chain tension probably 6 times each. Call me crazy but, guess what, never again have I raced in a wrong gear or have any chain problems. Plus, knowing my routine of warm-up, track time, etc., has led to calmness before racing. If you tell me I race at 4:00, I can tell you exactly when I need to arrive at the velodrome. I can even tell you when I need to eat my last gel. No energy wasted on trying to figure out what I should be doing or when I should do it.

 

Welcome to cyclocross where I don’t know what I don’t know. There’s been some hard knocks on learning my routine: tire pressure checks, double checking about pit bikes/wheels/mechanics, when to pre-ride, ensuring I leave time for a trainer warm-up, and basically just being a professional cyclocross racer.

 

But, after 3 weekends of throwing myself into the deep end of UCI races, I think I’ve got my routine. Now, I can let the head and body relax and just go out and race my bike! I’m ready to have some luck fall my way and I’m ready to start mixing it up.

 

Oh, the lessons I’ve learned! Sounds like a title to a Dr. Seuss book but it’s true.

Riders Gain Points at Pan-American Cyclocross Championships

Danny Summerhill in the top 10 at the UCI C1 Kings Cup

The USA Cycling Pro CX Calendar traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio this weekend for the classic Cincy3 weekend of racing. In addition to the UCI events, the Sunday races also served as the Pan-American Cyclocross Championships, an important opportunity for American riders to gain UCI points in a strong field. With two days of fierce racing, the competitors were exposed to challenging conditions rarely seen outside of Europe, with slick mud and treacherous off-camber sections. During Saturday’s UCI C1 race, Danny Summerhill held his own to finish in 9th position, a solid result against the strongest riders on the continent.

In the women’s field, Erica Zaveta was looking for redemption after a late race crash at Colorado’s US Open of Cyclocross two weekends ago. Having previously raced the Kings course in the dark, it was a change for Zaveta to see it in daylight, “It was different this year riding Kings course in the daytime! Kings is always a challenging course with punchy climbs and long grass sections.”

With the goal of moving into the UCI points, which extend to 15th place, Zaveta started conservatively, “I knew the course would pull you backwards if you went out too hard. My plan worked and I kept moving forward as the race went on, passing more people each lap to finish in 15th place.”

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The valuable UCI points, which are used to stage riders on the start line, will help ensure that Zaveta can be competitive for the rest of the season.

For Cari Higgins, in her first year of Pro Cyclocross, the European-style courses were a true challenge, “with a big overnight rain, Sunday’s course quickly became the most technical course on the pro cyclocross circuit. For this newbie, it pushed my limits of comfort, for sure.” Staying composed and focused, Higgins stayed in the race and moved up throughout. For Higgins, every race is a learning experience, “Each week I’m gaining skills and confidence when faced with new riding conditions. I finally feel like it’s all coming together.”

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Danny Summerhill came into the Cincinnati weekend with great form, but after finding himself in the lead group of Saturday’s UCI C1 event, a stroke of bad luck saw Summerhill a few seconds behind the leaders. On such a demanding course, the lead group was gone, but Summerhill fought his way back into the select chase group, and held onto a strong 9th place finish. In the strongest field in North America, 9th place and the UCI points that go with it will ensure Summerhill can maintain his front row starting position for the rest of the season.

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The Maxxis-Shimano Pro Cyclocross Team will travel to Louisville, Kentucky next weekend for another classic weekend of cyclocross at the Derby City Cup. The courses in Kentucky are known across the globe after hosting the Cyclocross World Championships in 2013, and have seen generations of stars take to the starting line.

Find out more about the Derby City Cup.

 

Photos: Dejan Smaic