Switzerland’s Jan Christen outsprinted Belgium’s Aaron Dockx and Great Britain’s Nathan Smith to earn the men’s Junior division title at the 2022 Walmart UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships at Centennial Park in Fayetteville, Arkansas, U.S.A.
“I tried to sprint away after the stair steps,” said Christen. The “39 Stairs” feature on the 1.8-mile (3 kilometer course) is about half-way into the circuit. The junior raced six laps of the course. Christen finished with a time of 43 minutes, 11 seconds, one seconds ahead of second-place Dockx and third-place Nathan Smith.
American A.J. August of Pittsfield, N.Y. finished 5th and became the highest placing American after the first four races. The women’s Under 23 and men’s elite followed the junior race on Sunday.
“I’m really happy with my finish,” said August, a sophomore in high school. “To race in front of these many fans on American soil was special. It was pretty cool hearing U.S.A. chants.”
Christen, Dockx and Smith had broken free of the eventual chase group featuring August mid-way through the race. The top three finishers, who had battled throughout the recent World Cup series in U.S. and Europe, knew the final lap would be a dog fight.
“I was really hoping for it (the win) in the sprint, but Jan came around me and I couldn’t follow his wheel in the final meters,” said Dockx, who was visibly upset after the race.
Corentin Lequet of France finished fourth ahead of August. The next top American was Jack Spranger of Sammamish, Wash., who finished in 13th place.
A total of 34 riders from 15 countries competed in the race. It was the most countries represented in any of the six division races.
Quotes From The Riders
Andrew August (Team USA), Men’s Junior 5th Place
His impressions of the course: “It was super hard, but fun.”
His impression of the crowd: “I haven’t heard anything like that ever. I mean my ears were hurting it was so loud, but I loved it.”
“Probably the fastest course I’ve done all season”
Jan Christen, Men’s Junior Champion
“In the beginning I was not sure I was the strongest but after half of the race I was thinking I could beat them and it’s my day and I did it.”
“It’s a really nice course. I enjoyed every lap and I think I had so much fun that I could win the race.”
Aaron Dockx, Men’s Junior Silver
“It’s really fast and the people are cheering and we’ve had period where we are riding without (crowds) so it was really fun to hear all the voices of their fans.”
Nathan Smith, Men’s Junior Bronze
About the course: “Quite a lot different than what we have in York and the UK. It was quite a challenge but it was fairly easy to learn the course.”