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Photo: Bo Bickerstaff

Clouse and Hecht victorious at Ruts ‘n’ Guts

The first day of racing saw closely contested racing at the front of the field.

Katie Clouse (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) and Gage Hecht (Alpha Bicycle Co.- Groove Subaru) won the first day’s racing at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on a fast, dry course.

Third attack lucky for Clouse

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Clouse held off fierce competition from a lead group of four to take her second Pro CX victory of the season.

Clouse took the holeshot and was joined at the front by Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team), Courtenay McFadden (Pivot Maxxis), Samantha Runnels (Squid Squad), Clara Honsinger (PTeam S&M CX), Raylyn Nuss (Gateway Harley-Davidson Trek), and Caroline Mani (Besancon, France), though the latter soon faded off the back.

Halfway through the six-lap contest, Nuss had also dropped from the lead group, making five at the front.

Clouse put in the first attack major attack of the race on the sandpit but Gilbert soon closed it down.

With only two laps of racing remaining, last year’s runner-up McFadden was the next rider to drop out of the lead group leaving four riders to fight for the victory: Clouse, Gilbert, Honsinger, and Runnels. Clouse made another move on the barriers going into the final lap but Gilbert again closed the slight gap and took the front of the group.

Clouse attacked again on the final lap, and this time the move stuck, and she crossed the line in 43:18, five seconds ahead of Gilbert, who edged out Honsinger in the sprint.

“It was down to Clara [Honsinger], Katie [Clouse], and me exchanging attacks,” Gilbert said. “Katie built a small gap through the final wooded section, and I got an even smaller gap coming out of the woods. We both held off a hard-charging Clara, and motivated Sammi [Runnels] for the podium spots.”

“No bobbles or mechanicals to heighten the drama among the top riders, just sheer riding ability and speed,” added Gilbert.

Hecht seizes opportunity to break clear of strong lead group

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Hecht rode smoothly to hold off the field and take his fifth Pro CX victory of the season

Racing started fast in the men’s with the lead group constantly re-shuffling in the opening laps.

After two laps, Andrew Dillman (SDG Factory Team) was at the front of a five-rider group with Hecht, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Eric Brunner (Full Cycle Cyclocross Team), and Anthony Clark (Squid Squad) close behind.

Further back, Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) was chasing hard after being caught in traffic early in the race, and had nearly caught the leaders by lap three.

When Dillman had a mechanical in the third lap, Hecht took full advantage of the mishap to forge ahead solo. Behind him, Powers caught White and Clark, and moved up to second place, having been in 11th not long before.

The situation stayed largely static for the next three laps with Clark dropping back. With one lap to go, Hecht had 14 seconds on White and Powers, who battled for second.

Hecht held his lead to win in 57:32. White took second from Powers in a sprint, six seconds behind.

“It’s been such a hard year with injury, third place in the sprint for second with Curtis [White] is a win for me in so many ways,” said Powers. “I enjoyed the battle in that group and I’m looking forward to Nationals next.”