Defending Champion Knocked Out Of Race
At the midway point of the Men's Elite race, it was clear the winner was going to emerge from a group of three: Page - the silver medalist at the 2007 World Cyclocross Championships - Wells and Johnson.
Defending national champion Ryan Trebon was gone, having been knocked out of the race with five-and-a-half laps to go when he collided with a rider who broke through the barrier tape on a portion of the course where it doubled back on itself.
"He hit me head-on and I landed on the ice on my back, shoulder and arm," Trebon said. "It hurt like hell."
Even local favorite and Masters 45-59 champion Steve Tilford of Topeka, Kan., was out of contention, the victim of a pair of double flat tires.
Johnson said he switched bikes twice, though it might have only been once had he not had a slight mechanic mishap early on in the hour-long race.
"The first couple laps I went into one of the dips and my bars slipped down so they were pointing towards the ground and my hands kept slipping off the shifters," he said.
But Johnson looked to be in full control when he attacked Page on the second-to-last trip up the hill to the finish line. The gap he opened up was only a slight one, though, and it remained a handful of seconds until Page crashed near the pits, dropping his chain. He quickly grabbed another bike and was on his way. But the momentary bobble cost him valuable time and Page would never get any closer to Johnson again.
"I was in control except for one little bobble, and that was the bike race," Page said. "I just ran out of real estate. That's 'cross, I guess."
Johnson said the victory puts a cap on a season that started with what he called a "weak" showing at the inaugural Cross Vegas race at Interbike in September.
"(But) it got better and better and I was able to win a couple races like Granogue and Portland," he said. "But going into this race, it's a lot of pressure to have everybody say, 'This is your kind of race. This is your kind of course.' I tried not to let it affect me and weigh me down."
**Thanks to Trailhead Marketing for the words and Team Skin Cycling for the YouTube video**