Friday, December 14, 2007

Steve Tilford Handily Wins Masters 45-49

Tilford led wire-to-wire in winning the Masters 45-49 title.

Steve Tilford of Topeka, Kan., wo the Masters 45-49 race by nearly two minutes in the final race of the day.

It was the now five-time national cyclocross champion's ninth win of the season (and his fourth in a cyclocross race) and adds to an already impressive career that includes five world mountain bike masters championships.

"I woke up pretty nervous today," he said. "It's different from when I was winning mountain bike worlds. After I won that a few times, I kind of got more of a relief than actual happiness so I kind of quit going at that point. Cyclocross is just plain fun. Even when I was wallowing in the mud today, I liked it."

And what about that mud - which was as deep as four inches in some spots?

"It's like sand, you just have to let your front end go," he said.

The bigger concern than the course conditions during his race, Tilford said, was navigating through a host of lapped riders. On his final trip through the Chamois Buttr' Way barrier section, he was the last of a group of nine to enter the stretch - and first to emerge - all in a span of less than 150 meters.

"I actually felt kind of bad passing all those guys," Tilford said. "A lot of the time they come to nationals and that's their whole goal - not to be lapped."

Any chance for a victory in Sunday's Elite Men's race?

"Realistically, four or five guys would have to have pretty off days for me to win the race," he said. "A good result for me in that race would be between fifth and 12th place. You look at the speeds and the maturity of the sport in the last three years and the way it's going now guys are really keying in on it."

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