Local cyclist wins obstacle-filled national competition
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
February 09, 2013 01:25 AM | 1123 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Traversing obstacles and a snow-covered course, Thomas Turner prevailed in last week’s World Masters Cyclocross Championship. The runner-up a year ago, the Cherokee County native raced through the adverse conditions — and sub-freezing temperatures — to prevail.
<Br>Photo special to the Tribune
Traversing obstacles and a snow-covered course, Thomas Turner prevailed in last week’s World Masters Cyclocross Championship. The runner-up a year ago, the Cherokee County native raced through the adverse conditions — and sub-freezing temperatures — to prevail.
Photo special to the Tribune
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Thomas Turner rose to the top of the cyclocross world last weekend when he won the discipline’s premier event in Louisville, Ky.

Turner, a Cherokee County native who finished second at the same event in 2012, is now the winner of the World Masters Cyclocross Championship. He won the age 30-34 class by finishing the course in 41 minutes, 10 seconds.

“Last year, it was so close, and it was close this year, too,” Turner said of the race, which forced him to traverse his bike through various obstacles and terrain. “It was nicer to not be second and take the win. It was intense and never-racking at the finish.”

Turner used a mixture of strategy and skill to navigate the course, and the obstacles along the roughly 1½-mile layout. The area received snow early in the week, which the rider said turned the dirt surface into mud.

By the end of the week, it froze again, turning the mud into hard ruts, and on the morning of the race, the temperature was just 14 degrees, according to Turner.

“It made for really treacherous conditions,” said Turner, who added that course conditions were similar in 2012. “I had my fingers crossed the whole time that we wouldn’t have to do it again because it’s something that I’m not used to living in Georgia.”

A competitive mountain-biker as well, Turner treated the hardened ground like another obstacle.

“I have pretty good technical skills compared to other riders, so I was able to adjust and adapt to the conditions pretty quickly,” he said. “In mountain biking, you never know what you are going to get, so you always have to adapt.”

Turner began the race in third place — something he felt comfortable with. He rode close to Kevin McConnell and Sven Baumann, occasionally taking over second place along the way, but he was always passed again.

“I made a few mistakes and had to play catch-up early on,” Turner said.

Riding through the pits for the second time on the fourth of the five laps, Baumann went down. Using a narrow space between the fallen rider and a fence, Turner moved into second and pushed himself to catch McConnell.

When the pair started the final lap, Turner was just a second behind.

Midway through the final lap, Turner was able to make his move.

The riders crossed an iced-over sidewalk and made a turn into a series of frozen ruts. McConnell took the turn wide, Turner passed on the inside, and from there, Turner said he tried to stay balanced. He knew a crash on the final lap would eliminate him from contention.

“I took a ‘Hail Mary’ shot and got the inside line,” Turner said. “After that, it was just a matter of racing smooth, conservative and not giving up the inside line, but not taking a big risk and crashing.”

McConnell finished second — just 19 seconds behind Turner — while Baumann was third.

With this event behind him, Turner has several events played for the spring, including time trials in Dalton and a training camp in Arizona.
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