Call it the ultimate act of team spirit. With a comfortable lead on the field in Sunday’s cyclocross race at Longmont’s Union Reservoir, Mitch Westall slowed his pace slightly to let fellow Team Gates Carbon Drive member Carlos Casali grab a wheel. The two then hammered the pace for the last lap and finshed 1-2, with Mitch letting Carlos cross the line first–and allowing the big Brazilian build on his lead in the Colorado Cup standings.
Sunday’s result culminated a big weekend for Gates. In addition to getting the top two podium spots on Sunday, Mitch took first place in Saturday’s race in Centennial, with Derek Strong taking fourth and Carlos sixth. Derek also grabbed seventh in Sunday’s race. Both races counted for the Colorado Cup Individual and Team standings.
Saturday’s Alpha Cross series race #3 was flat and twisty with sandy section that required shouldering the bikes. The start was fast, with Carlos leading off and Derek in second. Mitch started deep in the field and had to pass multiple rider during the first lap to bridge up to the leading group of five. On the third lap, Mitch attacked, shattering the lead group. Carlos fell back, having a hard day due to his decision to run too big of a gear. But that’s singlespeeding!
Derek stuck to the wheels of two riders chasing Mitch, who eventually pulled away. In the end, it was a great win for Mitch and Gates, with Derek and Carlos both in the top six.
Sunday dawned cold and windy. The course was fun– a combination of road, packed dirt, sand and a BMX pump track for some added excitement. The start was fast, with a six riders including Mitch and Carlos opening a gap. Both Gates riders knew the winning move would come on the few tight sections or when passing the Cat 3 riders. About 20 minutes in, Mitch saw an opportunity to attack while passing in the sand pit and he opened up a gap. Carlos sat at the back of the four-man chase group. With three laps to go, Carlos saw an opportunity to attack before the sand pit and escaped from the chase group. Team wrench/photographer Ian Sallee shouted to Mitch that Carlos was close behind in second, and in a fantastic act of team spirit Mitch eased up so Carlos could grab his wheel. Mindful of Carlos’ lead in the Colorado Cup, Mitch let his teammate cross the line first.
With the strong results, Gates has all but locked up the Colorado Cup team competition. Team Gates Carbon Drive has 10 wins this season. Next weekend will feature two more races, followed by Colorado State Cyclocross Championships on Dec. 5. Tune in to see if Carlos and the team hold onto their first-place standings.
Mitch Westall of Team Gates Carbon Drive recovered from a late crash in slippery conditions on Sunday to win the singlespeed category of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross race in Fort Collins, Colo. Carlos Casali hammered to grab third place at a venue that featured conditions worthy of Belgium–cold, wet and sloppy, with thousands of boisterous fans lining the course and ringing cowbells.
Conditions at the start of Sunday’s race were cold (28 degrees) and the track was frozen. Twenty minutes into the race the sun came out and the track turned sloppy. By the end the track was badly rutted and riders were sliding around all the corners. It was in one of these nasty corners that Westall, who was leading, slid out and went down. Three competitors passed him, but Westall gave frantic chase and surged back into the lead in the final 500 meters to cut the tape and grab victory for Team Gates Carbon Drive, with Casali grabbing third spot on the podium. Pete Thompson, a visiting Gates employee nabbed sixth place.
The Fort Collins race was a two-day affair that featured large rambunctious crowds, challenging terrain, technical sections, power climbs and soggy straightaways. On Saturday, Westall made a last-lap charge to go from seventh to fourth place, while Casali was close behind in seventh and Thompson in 12th.
Due to the early morning race starts, the course was frozen solid initially, with deep tire track ruts–an ice rink from Hell. Positioning was key due to difficult passing conditions and the abundance of off-slope turns. All the team members hit the deck at least once during the weekend while railing down frozen hills. The Carbon Drives proved advantageous once the conditions got muddy.
Next weekend, Team Gates Carbon Drive will compete in back-to-back Colorado Cup races, hoping to defend the team’s top spot in the team competition and Casali’s lead in the rider competition. Stay tuned for more race highlights in the coming weeks!
It almost seemed like an “off” weekend in Colorado, as Team Gates Carbon Drive rested between a big weekend of NACT races in Boulder, and the coming weekend of USGP races coming to Fort Collins. But the cross season is short, and the team was eager to stay in top form, in order to increase their leads in the Colorado Cross Cup Individual and Team standings at the upcoming races!
Ben Ollett rips the whoops - Photo by Sportif Images
Saturdays race saw the group back at the Boulder Reservoir for the School Yard Cross Race
. Same venue as last Saturday, but with a completely new layout of the course, featuring a fast, bumpy side, countered by a very twisty and technical second side. Team Gates Carbon Drive was represented in the single speed race by Carlos Casali and Ben Ollett.
Carlos made his usual strong start, causing an immediate separation of 4 guys, with about a 20 second gap back to the group containing Ben. But about halfway through the race Carlos had a stumble in the tough sand section, and went from 1st down to 4th. Immediately he set about chasing, and managed to get up to 3rd, putting all his effort into the chase, but ran out of course before he was able to catch the leaders. Ben rode smooth and consistent, finishing in a group just behind Carlos, in 6th place.
Sunday’s Castle Cross Cyclocross Festival was held in Castle Rock, on a great course featuring a good amount of grass and dirt, a paved climb, a mean run-ups, and more twists and endless loose, off-camber turns. Mitch Westall was the first to line up for the team, as he chose to mix things up a bit, trying out his Spot Mod Single Speed against the geared guys in the 35+ race. Lining up at the back of the field, he quickly found out that he was still competitive against the rest of the field. Passing was one thing, but it definitely took some extra work to keep the speed up and stay in front when the counter attacks would come. Before long he had moved up into third place where he would finish the race. A great result, even using the single speed, against a very competitive field
Later in the day, I provided some reinforcements to Carlos and Ben, who were out once again to throw down in the single speed category!
Castle Rock featured a fun, flowing course! - Photo by Sportif Images
After winning the Open races on both Saturday and Sunday, Brady Kappius toed the line along with his dad Russell. Right from the gun, Brady was off like a shot, with Carlos and myself quickly chasing back on. Once we were latched on, Brady’s dad Russell, who was riding more like an older brother to Brady, attacked, with Brady doing a heck of a job blocking. Carlos and I took turns attacking several times each, but Brady would counter, and then ride nice and “conservatively” though the twisty sections, just as he should have. But after one of our attacks, he took off again, bridging to his dad, and leaving Carlos and I to chase, with Ben just behind us and closing, trying to get up and help us.
Carlos Casali and Brian Hutchison on the chase - Photo by Sportif Images
Unfortunately Brady’s attack meant Carlos and I had to react, chasing hard. I had an issue, getting caught on a hidden stump in the course, and then got stuck behind traffic in a terrible spot with limited passing. Carlos was on his own chasing. Frustrated, I pushed super hard to get back up to Carlos, who hesitated just a bit when he saw me coming. We worked together to start gnawing back the 20+ second gap, that Brady and Russell had as they worked together also. It set up a great chase between teammates! With a bit more than 2 laps to go, I put absolutely everything into the chase, before I had to send Carlos off on his own, as I struggled home. Carlos flew on his own, and by the final lap was just 5 seconds behind the Kapius duo, but he just plain ran out of road again. We finished up in 3rd, 4th, and with Ben finishing 5th with a big gap behind him. Not a win for the team, but a good display of team work setting up an exciting race for the fans.
Railin' the berms at the Rhyolite Park Bike Park in Castle Rock - Photo by Sportif Images
Carlos is sure to back next weekend, looking to protect his lead in the Colorado Cyclocross Cup, as Team Gates Carbon Drive looks to make their lead unassailable and wrap up the team competition! It should be an awesome weekend if you can make it out, as the “Big Show” once again comes to town as the races serve as a stop on the US Grand Prix series!
Dejan Smaik of Sportif Images has also signed up to be the official photographer of Team Gates Carbon Drive! Check out the great pictures that he provided for this post, and then check out Sportif Images for all sorts of amazing photography, including the huge number of cycling galleries!
There's always a lot of sand at the Boulder Reservoir. (Photo by Larry Grossman)
The Big Show came to Colorado last weekend, and though current Colorado Cross Cup leader Carlos Casali continues to recover from a couple recent crashes, and the rest of Team Gates Carbon Drive is recovering from the big muddy trip to Seattle, everyone showed up ready to rock! And rock they did. By the end of the weekend the team had extended its lead in the Team Cup race, and Carlos had done the same in the individual competition.
Saturday’s Colorado Cross Classic was located at the Boulder Reservoir. Even though it’s flat, the reservoir always makes for a tough course with its combination of bumpy grass, long sandy run-ups and lack of spots to rest. The race course was thronged with spectators and the field of competitors was large as action got underway. After some twisty grass sections, there were several dusty corners leading into wet sand and then more dry sand followed by a hairpin turn and a set of barriers. Talk about grueling! That final sand section meant a long run for the singlespeeders, followed by a fast paved section and more twisty grass corners that required massive power output and cornering prowess.
Team Gates Carbon Drive members Derek Strong, Carlos Casali and I lined up with 20 other riders for the start. Carlos and I got out to a fast start, despite new course rules that gave everyone less warm-up time on the course. A sole rider got away early as Carlos and I traded back and forth in the chase to keep him within reach. That was until I took a corner too hot and clipped a hay bale, causing my front wheel to slide out at high speed. I jumped back on and hammered to make up for the lost seconds as Derek came around me and joined Carlos in the leader chase. Derek and Carlos closed the gap but the leaders rode strong and managed to hold on for the win. Derek finished a strong 4th with Carlos right behind in 5th. Not content with my first crash, I managed to shoulder-check some steel fencing ( just to show it who was boss) and rode across in 8th. While not atop the podium, all three of us were satisfied.
Sunday’s Boulder Cup CX race was another NACT event on a new course located, of all places, at the mall! There was no time to hit the food court though, as this was one tough mother. Derek Strong, Carlos Casali and I toed the line as part of a 25-man field. Unfortunately, Garrett “big huck” Davis crashed during warmups and ended up in the emergency room. Garrett’s prognosis looks good and he should be back on the bike in a few weeks. Get well buddy, we need you for State Championships!
Man Down. Get better Garrett.
Once again the race was fast right from the start with a small group separating from the others including Derek and Carlos. Derek rode each lap faster and was reeling back the leaders but he ran out of road. He lunged for the line with the second-place rider, grabbing third place while getting the same time as the second-place rider. No doubt, the race leader was glad the race ended then because Derek was on the hunt! Carlos finished in a solid 5th.
Carlos stomps to a strong finish
While the team rode strong, the Carbon Drive again stole the show. I saw multiple riders struggling with derailed chains and sand in their drive trains, but the belts ran flawlessly. Next weekend, Team Gates Carbon Drive will be racing at the Boulder Reservoir again on Saturday. Sunday, the team heads south of Denver to a new venue at the Castle Rock Rhyolite bike park. Come out and enjoy the action, and check out Carbon Drive in action!
Garrett going big on skinny tires at Singlespeed CX Worlds
One more look at Garrett, because this photo is so cool. Carbon Drive makes you fly!