Under a clear blue sky the South Carolina cyclocross state championships were contested at the abandoned Mill Stone golf course. The course had been altered from the October weekend of races that were also held at this venue. The championship loop included more hard pack and golf cart tracks than the October course. Also the long climb was eliminated and instead short steep ascents punctuated the course. A sand trap and a barrier sections were also part of the classic elements that made up the course. Speaking to race referee Steve Baker said the course favored a roadie. “People have been really liking the course. They did a good job with the course design.” Unfortunately the North Carolina series split the racers between events which reduced the overall field size.
The women’s 1/2/3 race was dominated by Greenville native Nina Elliot. She had been a regular at Wednesday night training series and it showed by her smooth dismounts and mounts. When the flag was dropped she quickly gapped her competition. However, at the first set of barriers she dropped her chain but her fellow competitor Leslie James helped her get the chain back onto the ring. From there Elliot put the power down and made her way to the front. Her silky transitions over the barriers combined with her raw power put her way out front again. It was obvious that Elliot had this race wrapped up and crossed the finish line with ample time between herself and second place rider Debbie Gillespie. Leslie James, who had helped Elliot with her chain issue crossed the line in third followed by Raleigh All Stars rider Cinthia Lehner.
“I got to give credit to Noah,” said Elliot about her boyfriend Team Globalbike rider Noah Metzler. “He gets me to the races on time, he tells me when to warm up and he fixes my bike.” That and perhaps the intervals she has been doing were factors in her victory.
With Elliot’s win the pressure was now on her boyfriend Metzler to take the state champion’s medal as well. And like Elliot, the Globalbike rider jumped to a quick lead. But dangling not too far behind was Preston Anderson of the MOB team. While it looked like Metzler had the race easily in hand, no one told Anderson has he continued to shorten the distance between himself and first place. Metzler rode through the sand pit his rear wheel kicking out a rooster tail of sand. Anderson dismounted and ran the short distance, costing him time. While he might have lost time in the sand, on the short ascents he gained it back. During the race on one of the short steep climbs Metzler looked over at this reporter and said of Anderson, “He won’t give up!”
With three laps to go Anderson almost made the junction to Metzler. However on the last lap the Globalbike rider put the pedal to the floor one last time and increased his gap, holding off Anderson.
“I wanted to get the buffer immediately and maintain it,” said Metzler of his race winning strategy.
Even with the gap Metzler wasn’t confident.
“The race is never over. I could have a flat or a mechanical or take myself out over the barriers like I did warming-up.”
With this victory the new South Carolina state champion is going to taper and prepare for the upcoming UCI ranked cyclocross races in Hendersonville.