Logan Owen (California Giant-Specialized) won his second under-23 national championship on Monday in Austin, Texas. The 19-year-old took matters into his own hands early in the race, riding alone to win in slippery, sticky mud.
“Yesterday I was really liking the course,” said Owen. “Today, I didn’t have the good vibes on the course like I did yesterday; I was a little nervous. My legs didn’t feel as good as they did yesterday because of the move, but yeah, I was able to adapt really well and able to pull it off.”
From the gun, California Giant-Specialized was in control, with Tobin Ortenblad grabbing the holeshot, followed closely by two of his teammates.
Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) soon went to the front. Owen was quick to jump on his wheel, and separations began to form immediately.
After one lap, Owen had a gap, followed by Ortenblad. White had lost some ground after running through the course’s second pit zone.
Owen continued to race fearlessly, taking risks on the slippery course, extending the gap over his teammate and the rest of the field. White battled with Andrew Dillman (Cyclocross Network) and Eckmann for third.
Two laps in, Eckmann and Ortenblad had dispatched White and were riding well together, with Dillman giving chase in fourth.
Then, Eckmann made a move, riding away with Dillman and White chasing hard as they saw three laps to go. Ortenblad had faded in the battle for the podium. Ahead, Owen had a small bobble in the pits, but his lead was insurmountable.
Running behind Eckmann, Dillman slipped on the slippery limestone stairs and immediately lost a lot of ground to the former U23 champion.
With two laps remaining, Owen was secure in first, and similarly, his teammate, Eckmann, was solidly ensconced in second. White was third with a healthy gap, and that is how the podium positions sorted out in the end.
“Yeah, I had a good start,” said Eckmann. “[I] blew up, and then I tried to minimize losses a little bit, and then tried to do what I can do best, and that’s stay on the gas.
“I actually felt, on those descents I was just letting it rip, I was not afraid to crash. I was like, ‘It’s all or nothing; this I my last race,’ if I crash, I crash, you know? I was just going for the win, you know? The win that counts. I’m maybe a little bit disappointed, but I was just giving everything for the win, that’s all I wanted today. If that means I crash, I crash. But I gave it everything.”
The newly-crowned division one collegiate champion, Dillman, finished fourth, ahead of Ortenblad.
It was Owen’s 10th national cyclocross title — in fact, he’s undefeated at cyclocross nationals as a junior, and now as an under-23.
As for ‘cross worlds, Owen was circumspect about his chances, saying, “Yeah I’ll be there, going to shoot for a podium hopefully, but it’s a tall ask.”
Chris Case contributed to this report from Austin.