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While Liesbet De Vocht’s (Lotto-Belisol) fellow Belgians prepared for the women’s world road championships in Ponferrada, Spain, she sat on the sidelines, literally. She was unable to ride due to a debilitating knee injury sustained in September’s Boels Ladies Tour. “I knew immediately when I crashed, my chances for worlds were over,” she said. “I was crushed, to say the least. I landed directly on my knee, cutting it straight through to the bone. They stitched it up but I wasn’t allowed to bend the knee for the first few days. After 10 days, the wound was still open and still wasn’t 100 percent.”
As world championships was to have been the last race of De Vocht’s career, she officially entered early retirement. “The decision to retire didn’t come overnight. It’s taken me two years, in fact, to get here. Last year, I was all ready to stop but then I won the Belgian road championships. It was difficult pass up a whole year of riding in the peloton with that prestigious jersey. Now that I’m without the jersey I can easily say goodbye. At my age , I just want a house and a family, including kids. Luckily I already have a boyfriend so I am halfway there,” said De Vocht.
Although her career was unexpectedly shortened by a month, her list of career accomplishments is anything but short. This year alone, she’s landed on the podium of UCI international events four times including a fourth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and second in the Belgian time trial championships. She’s also placed seventh in both Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.
Over the 11-year span of her career from 2004 to 2014, she’s accumulated 54 victories. These victories include four Belgian time trial championships (2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013) and two Belgian road championships in 2010 and 2013. The two Belgian road victories are especially sweet for her as they have sentimental significance. “[Belgian championships] in Geel was in front of my home crowd, while La Roche was a very personal victory. I did all preparation myself from food, gear, climb training where I basically went to the mountains to learn how to climb. … So that victory was for me.”
Another accomplishment that ranks high for De Vocht was her debut in the 2012 Olympics. “In 2011, I quit my full-time job as a programmer to focus solely on cycling in hopes to qualify for the Olympics. Well, the gamble paid off as my dream came true. And a ninth place made it that much more special.” As there was only one automatic Olympic spot allocated to the Belgian women, De Vocht sacrificed her position on Marianne Vos’ Nederland-Bloeit team to ride for the Belgian Topsport Vlaanderen Team, where she could more easily earn valuable UCI points as team leader, as opposed to riding in support of Vos. With the additional points accumulated, Belgium was able to take two additional women, including De Vocht.
While most racers would name a certain victory as their top favorite experience on the bike, De Vocht recalls an event where she missed the finish altogether. “In the 2010 Tour de Laude, I was off the front with teammate Annemiek van Vleuten when the course marshals sent us off in the wrong direction. Even though one of us surely would have won the stage, but didn’t, it was still an amazing experience to ride off the front together like that. We also worked really well as a team, where we lost time on the climbs, but could make it back in the descents — always a fun thing to do!”
De Vocht got her first taste of the bike racing scene as a supporter for her brother, former professional Wim De Vocht, as well as ex-boyfriend Tom Boonen whom she dated from 1997-2003. She spent so much time on her bike at the races to get back and forth between start, finish, and feed zones that she began to see improvement in her own cycling. Once she and Boonen split, she became inspired to see how far she could get if she gave it a shot herself, starting off with the mountain bike before switching to the pavement.
She’d gotten so far in her career, in fact, that when it came time to retire, her hometown of Arendonk held an official retirement race in July where 85 women, including Marianne Vos and this year’s Belgian road champion Jolien D’Hoore, lined up alongside her to give her a proper sendoff. After she crossed the line — with an average speed of 41.32kph, hands raised in the air, the festivities began. She kicked it off by thanking all her supporters, fans, and friends she’s made over the years, adding, “I will definitely look back to this time in my life with a lot of joy and a smile across my face.”
And now looking back specifically to that special day, she muses, “For sure I appreciate my early retirement party in Arendonk even more.”
De Vocht may be retiring from professional cycling, but she promises to firmly remain in the cycling community. “Next year, the plan is to work for Lotto-Soudal womens’ under-23 riders, coaching them as well as handling some of the administrative work. I’ll also be coaching the novices and juniors on the Balen BC cycling club from the area. As long as I don’t have to go back to a nine-to-five job, I’ll be happy.”
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- With several of the standings leaders participating at the first UCI World Cup of the season in Holland, there was not much shakeup in the 2014-15 USA Cycling Professional Cyclo-cross Calendar (Pro CX) rankings last weekend as the HPCX took center stage on the Pro CX calendar in Jamesburg, N.J.
Canadian cyclocross rider Maghalie Rochette captured attention across the American racing scene with a third place finish at Rapha Super Cross Gloucester and second at Rochester’s Ellison Park Full Moon Vista race. This weekend, she heads to Winnipeg to vie for a maple leaf jersey in Canadian cyclocross nationals.
Now in her third and most consistently successful year of UCI ‘cross competition, the 21-year-old Luna Pro Team rider also won The Night Weasels Cometh, a big non-UCI event in New England.
After completing her second elite mountain bike season in September and feeling more content with the experience than her overall results, Rochette opted for a relaxed approach to the 2014 cyclocross season.
“I just wanted to have some fun, to go all-out in ‘cross races and try to have some good results,” she said. “But I didn’t really have results in mind. I was just going out there to have a blast … but [results] arrived so I am super happy.”
Now she hopes that her relaxed success will carry over the border to Canada this coming weekend when she tackles the Canadian cyclocross championships in Winnipeg and looks for a better outcome in her third run at the elite women’s contest.
In 2012 she finished 13th. Last year, she came into the race two weeks after a bad crash and placed ninth. Her goal for Winnipeg is to pass the finish line happy with her performance.
“I’m not thinking about a position so much because it’s hard to decide if a race is good based only on that — you can’t control what the other racers are doing,” Rochette said. “So even if I have the best day of my life, and six other girls also have the best day of their lives and they beat me, I can’t be disappointed with that.”
Canadian cyclocross nationals will be held in downtown Winnipeg on Saturday, October 25. Check back on VeloNews for event coverage.
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This weekend, at a gran fondo in Greenville, South Carolina, several members of the former U.S. Postal Service team will ride together again.
Four members of the USPS team that won the 1999 Tour de France — Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, and Kevin Livingston — will reunite at the October 25 Gran Fondo Hincapie.
Former Postal/Discovery Channel team members Michael Barry and Tom Danielson will also be attending. Though initially listed as a participant, former USPS rider David Zabriskie has said he will not be able to make the trip.
Mixed with this group are several notable names from the younger generation of American racers, including Tejay van Garderen, Brent Bookwalter, and Larry Warbasse, all of BMC Racing, Hincapie’s last team as a professional.
American WorldTour riders Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) and Matthew Busche (Trek Factory Racing) are also participating.
Two years and two weeks after USADA’s Reasoned Decision rocked the foundation of American cycling, it’s a notable list of riders, past and present, who are attending — particularly four who testified about Armstrong’s drug use, and their own, in the USADA report.
Since the USADA report was released, those involved have gone in disparate directions. Hincapie retired, and now runs an apparel company, which sponsors a successful development team. Vande Velde served a six-month off-season suspension, raced in 2013, and then retired; he’s now a race announcer for NBC Sports. Danielson served a six-month off-season suspension, and continues to race, and win, for Garmin-Sharp. Livingston, who was a member of the USPS team but did not testify in the USADA report, serves in the role of competition director for Georgia-based race organizer Medalist Sports; he also runs the Pedal Hard Training Center in Austin, Texas, in the basement of the Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop owned by Armstrong. Barry and Zabriskie have maintained relatively low profiles, with Zabriskie competing this year in Race Across America and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race.
Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his Tour victories; within a week of the USADA report’s release, he lost millions in sponsorship revenue, as well as his seat at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded.
The event, however, is more about Hincapie than Armstrong. The gran fondo bears Hincapie’s name, and this list of riders attending, which spans generations, speaks to the friendships he has cultivated over the years.
Former American riders from the USPS team who testified in the USADA case, but are not attending, include Levi Leipheimer, Frankie Andreu, Jonathan Vaughters, and Tyler Hamilton.
In today’s post-confessional environment, there are critics who will argue that a team of young riders should not be sponsored by an apparel company owned by George Hincapie, or that he should not be organizing a gran fondo.
Whether or not that is a valid argument is ultimately a matter of opinion; Hincapie “served” his six-month USADA suspension in retirement, and is in no way prohibited from being involved in professional cycling, as a sponsor or team director, as Armstrong is, due to his lifetime ban. (Hincapie’s gran fondo is unsanctioned, and therefore Armstrong is free to participate.)
And while some might assume that riders from the younger generation would choose to disassociate themselves from riders who admitted to drug use, in this instance, that is not the case.
VeloNews reached out to several of those pros, past and present, who are participating, for comment.
Most, including Armstrong and Hincapie, addressed their involvement with event, either via email, phone, or in person, while a few — Vande Velde and Livingston — did not.
Some addressed the inherent awkwardness of the reunion, others did not.
Their replies follow below.
George Hincapie (via email): The Fondo is not supposed to have an intended or implied message; at least that’s not what we are shooting for. It’s just a celebration of cycling with friends and fans that also supports what we feel are important causes. Last year we hosted 20 or so veterans from Operation Shift Gears, and financial proceeds purchased more than 6,000 meals for our Meals on Wheels chapter. We hope for even more this year. The Fondo also helps promote what a great region this is for cycling, and brings people here to ride. It even gets people who may have never thought about getting on a bike to challenge themselves and try it out. I have a few personal friends that are now totally into cycling as a result of the event, and it has changed their life. To me that’s what it’s all about. I know I’ve made mistakes along with some of the other riders in attendance, but I believe in, and hope for, second chances for everyone. I’m very fortunate to count many former and current professionals as friends, and will leave it to my peers to decide how they regard me, and the event.
Lance Armstrong (via email): I’m going because George is a good friend and he asked me to come. He’s been awfully supportive of Anna and mine’s work with Wapiyapi [a small private fundraising dinner and ride], so I wanted to return the favor. Regarding the others, I’m ambivalent.
Michael Barry (via email): l am not sure there is much to say. Like in any walk of life, I’ve remained friends with a few of the guys, notably Christian and George. Our lives have all moved on in different ways. Some guys I was close with, others I never speak with.
Dave Zabriskie (by phone): George is a friendly guy, he’s nice to everyone, people like him. That’s why so many people are going. If I could be there, I would be. I don’t think the younger guys see George as someone to be scared of, or scared of associating with, I think they see him as someone they can learn from.
These [former USPS teammates] spent a lot of years together. You can’t just wipe that away. There’s a lot of baggage in the past, but I think some friendships can transcend that. Some people out there, maybe they can’t move on past what happened, but for some of these guys, they are able to move forward. It’s interesting that Lance, if anyone, can put it all in the past and move on.
Tejay Van Garderen (by phone): I can see the curiosity of people, wondering why we would choose to associate ourselves. It was frustrating for me to learn about all the stuff that happened in the past, and I think I was right there, with a lot of people, being angry about the news that had come out. But after a while, after I had had some time to digest … Thor Hushovd said to me once, in regards to Lance, ‘If I had a family member, or friend, who committed a crime and went to prison, I wouldn’t support what they did — but I would still go visit them in prison.’ And I agree with that.
With a lot of these guys … nothing they can do will make up for what they did, but I don’t think that necessarily makes them bad people. I also look at the good that they have done. Levi has raised money with his gran fondo, which he gives back to his community. Christian has been helping out with setting up an American seat on the CPA, the pro riders union. He’s not getting a dime from that, and he’s not racing, he’s retired, he just wants to see the sport improve.
As for George, I roomed with him at the 2012 Tour de France. I shared a lot of special moments with George, and you can’t just turn your back on all of that, because of something that happened 10 years ago.
I think the healthy, and positive thing, for the younger generation of riders to do is to accept, and forgive, and maybe not forget, but to move forward. These people are human beings, and we’re moving on. I think the worst thing for people to do is to hold a pep rally at the USA Pro Challenge to go and flip off Tom Danielson.
Lance lives down the block from me, in Aspen. We’ve gone on some rides together, he’s even motorpaced me behind his Vespa. I don’t feel like there’s any hidden agenda there. He still loves the sport, and wants to see it get better. I don’t think he is the evil guy he’s been depicted to be, in all these books and movies, but I suppose that is ultimately going to be left up for people to decide for themselves.
Lance took the brunt [of the USADA investigation], much harder than anyone else, and in my opinion, he might deserve a bit of a break. To say whether he deserves equal punishment to everyone else, that’s not up to me to decide.
Alex Howes (in person): I don’t know. I feel like I’m playing kind of the ignorance card when I say I don’t really think about it. But I really don’t. Like those guys, guys like Vande Velde and Hincapie and Zabriskie and that Lance guy. With as involved in the sport as they were for so many years, unless the world was flat and they could just fall off the edge, they’re really not going to be going anywhere too fast. And for us younger guys, this newer generation, it’s been kind of a balancing act. Learning how to be friends with them, help them kind of reintegrate into clean cycling. And also kind of create our own identity I suppose, as a generation. And it’s not easy, and I feel like we’re doing a relatively good job. I’m pretty proud of where we are from a results standpoint. From an ethical standpoint … Where we stay in our little bubble, how we relate to the rest of population, I don’t know. It’s complicated. It’s absolutely not black and white.
Larry Warbasse (via email): It’s a pretty cool event. I went there the first year they had it (two years ago) and it was a great time. The ride is a great way to show off the town of Greenville and its surrounding areas (a place I spent two of my winters training and think of very fondly) and it also supports a great local charity, Meals on Wheels, which is awesome. It is a pretty impressive list of riders attending the Fondo, I think it speaks volumes to how respected of a guy George is.
In regards to the relationships we (the younger generation of American riders) have with George and some of the other riders attending, I can only speak for myself.
During the two winters I spent in Greenville, I trained with George nearly every day. I got to know him very well as a person and consider him a close friend. I also rode with his development team in 2012, the year before I turned pro. Many tend to look for the worst in people. I, however, tend to look at the best. Many people have a hard time realizing that good people can make bad decisions. George is a great person. He made some bad decisions in his past. But he also has done worlds for the sport to try to right his wrongs, by giving back to the sport and helping young riders. His development team is a great example of that. I did not know him at the time when he made those decisions, I met him after he decided to race clean. People look to crucify George and others for the past, but I think our energy can be better utilized by working towards the future.
Brent Bookwalter (via email): At the end of the day, my support of George’s ride is about being there for him as a friend, just as he was for me during the time when we were teammates, and after. It is equally about supporting the ride itself, which makes a significant charitable contribution and is a staple event in the Southeast part of the country where I reside for much of the year. George has been gracious enough to support our ride, the Bookwalter Binge, and our charitable fundraising goals as well. It is nice that we can exchange support with each other in these areas after being supportive teammates in years past.
Matthew Busche (via email): I recently moved [to Greenville] and have quickly come to realize how great the riding is around here in terms of quality and beauty. I did a small, local group ride in September (Tour d’Apple) and met some great people and rode some amazing roads that I didn’t know existed in basically my own backyard. I am doing George’s fondo this coming weekend, and the Bookwalter Binge the following weekend, as a way to promote cycling as a whole, promote cycling in this area, and as a friend to George and Brent. I’m excited to see some of the roads in the area I haven’t been on and I look forward to good weather, fall colors, and great company.
Tom Danielson (via email): This is my second year doing George’s fondo and I’m really looking forward to it. Greenville is a beautiful part of the country to ride in, and George’s fondo does a great job showcasing it, and does a lot for charity as part of it. It’s a great event, it gets people from all over the place involved in and excited about cycling, and that’s what it’s all about.
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The Six Days of Amsterdam track event was postponed Tuesday after derny driver Cees Stam, 68, suffered a serious accident and was rushed to a nearby hospital.
The Twitter account for SixDayRacing.com, the official live stream for the Amsterdam Six Day, reported that Tuesday’s racing had been cancelled after a major crash.
In a statement on the event website, organizers said, “A number of other pacemakers and riders were involved in the accident [and suffered] minor injuries.”
Stam is an experienced derny driver and formerly a professional cyclist and four-time world champion on the track in motorpaced events.
Eurosport race commentator Carlton Kirby tweeted from the event, “Sadly tonight’s racing from Amsterdam has been abandoned due to the serious injury to one of the [derny] drivers.”
Among those participating at the event is Paris-Roubaix champion Niki Terpstra, (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), the winner of the Amsterdam Six-Day event in 2011. Terpstra’s teammate is Yoeri Havik.
Also participating are Lotto-Belisol riders Pim Ligthart and Jasper Buyst. Buyst won last year’s Six Days of Ghent and was the revelation of the six-day season.
Check back for more information on this story as it becomes available.
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American ex-pro Bobby Julich and Sean Yates look to be heading to Tinkoff-Saxo in a major, behind-the-scenes shakeup at the team for next season.
According to reports in the French daily L’Equipe, the pair will join Tinkoff-Saxo’s sport director staff for the 2015 season. At the same time, Philippe Mauduit and Fabrizio Guidi, two long-time sport directors who’ve been with the team since 2011, are out.
Team officials could not be reached to confirm the news, but it marks a shift in management at one of the sport’s highest-profile teams. And it’s another signal that team owner Oleg Tinkov and team CEO Stefano Feltrin are firmly in charge. The Russian tycoon has steadily been raising his profile since buying out Bjarne Riis last year. Riis remains as team manager, and calls the shots during the races, but these moves reveal that Tinkov is not content to remain an idle, hands-off owner.
Speaking to French newspaper La Nouvelle Republique, Mauduit said he saw the writing on the wall earlier this season that he was not bonding with the outspoken Russian owner.
“Tinkov bought the team in 2013, and I saw very quickly we didn’t share the same ways of working, or the same values, and it was true that our collaboration was difficult,” Mauduit said. “But he is the boss, and he has the money, and he does what he wants with the team, the strategy, and his communication. He’s the one who decides, and I respect that.”
Mauduit worked with French teams before joining Cérvelo in 2009-2010, and then Riis’ Saxo Bank-SunGard outfit in 2011. Guidi finished out his pro racing career with Riis before becoming a sport director, also in 2011.
Julich and Yates, meanwhile, will return to Riis’s side. Yates worked as a sport director at the former CSC team in 2003-04, while Julich finished out his racing career with Riis from 2004 to 2008, when he enjoyed a revival, winning such races as Paris-Nice, Critérium International, and the Eneco Tour, all in 2005. The American then took on a role with the team as rider development manager, which lasted until late 2010.
Yates and Julich both joined Team Sky in 2010, with Yates working as lead director, and Julich as a coach. Both left the team in 2012, however, as part of the team’s controversial zero-tolerance policy, with Yates citing personal problems and Julich admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs early in his pro career.
Yates, 54, has not worked with a top pro team since then, while Julich, 42, worked as a coach for BMC Racing this season.
In their arrival to Tinkoff-Saxo, they will link up with Steven de Jongh, who also left Sky in 2012 after also admitting former doping practices. Since his arrival to Tinkoff-Saxo in 2013, de Jongh eclipsed Mauduit as the team’s lead director, and helped steer Alberto Contador to victory during the 2014 Vuelta a España.
Tinkoff-Saxo has also closed out its roster for 2015, with a total of 30 riders for next season. Six new faces join the team, including Peter and Juraj Sagan, Macej Bodnar, and Ivan Basso (all from Cannondale), as well as Pavel Brutt (Katusha) and Robert Kiserlovski (Trek).
The core of the team remains intact, with five departures. Niki Sorensen and Karsten Kroon are both retiring, with Nicolas Roche to Sky, Rory Sutherland to Movistar, and Marko Kump to Slovenian team Adria Mobil.
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- My Web Albums from Bubba CX at Sylvan Springs Park, Sunday, October 19, 2014:
Masters 40+, Masters 50+, SingleSpeed;
Women A, Women B;
Spanish newspaper Marca reported Tuesday that Vuelta a España organizers have confirmed plans for a one-day women’s race in conjunction with the final stage of Spain’s grand tour.
The 2015 Vuelta will finish in Madrid on September 13. It is anticipated that the women’s race will take on a similar format to that seen at La Course by the Tour de France, which was held for the first time this year, and will return in 2015, again racing the Champs-Élysées circuit.
Vuelta organizer Unipublic is said to be in talks with the UCI to seek a top-category classification for the event on the international elite women’s calendar.
Details still remain unconfirmed, but as of now, organizers plan to hold the race on Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana boulevard. As of yet, the event does not have an official name, but it is expected to resemble La Course in many ways.
This race will be a welcome addition to the women’s calendar, which sees precious few elite races in Spain, with the exception of the Bira stage race.
HPCX: Day 1
In the women's race, the early selection included Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom), Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos/Van Dessel/Power Bar), and Nikki Thiemann (Rare Disease). Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Jessica Cutler finished in sixth place on day one of HPCX. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos/Van Dessel/Power Bar) was able to use her long strides to make quick work of the barriers. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Brittlee Bowman (House Industries/Simple Human/Richard Sachs) was a constant presence just behind the leaders. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Cheryl Sornson (Rare Disease Racing) led a group up the hill after the barriers. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Rebecca Gross looked through a tricky corner on her way to a seventh-place finish. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos Racing/Van Dessel/Power Bar) rode the front most of the race with Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) right on her wheel. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) used her criterium sprinting experience to take the uphill sprint to the line ahead of Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos Racing/Van Dessel/Power Bar). Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
In the men's race, Cameron Dodge made his way through the barriers on the Thompson Park course. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Jake Sittler had a solid race, finishing in the top ten. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Anthony Clark (JAM Fund/NCC) leads Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo Cycling Team). What seemed like minor contact with Clark ended Durrin's day with a broken right shift lever. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Bill Elliston carried his bike through one of the technical sections of the course. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy Cycling/Scott) was able to capitalize on a bobble by Anthony Clark and opened up a commanding lead. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Todd Wells (Specialized) leads Anthony Clark (JAM Fund/NCC). The two would go on to finish third and fourth, respectively. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Robert Marion and Lewis Gaffney (American Classic) rode together as they started a new lap. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Anthony Clark (JAM Fund/NCC) eyed his line through an off-camber section. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
Lewis Gaffney got tangled in the tape, after a get-off. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com
HPCX: Day 1
The Men's Podium from HPCX Day 1. Cameron Dodge took the victory over Travis Livermon, and Todd Wells. Photo by Scott Kingsley | ScottKingsleyPhotography.com