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Aspen’s Hayles finishes third in cyclocross championships

Shawn Lortie/courtesy photoTom Hayles, of Aspen, leads a pack of riders on a mud-caked course at the 2013 UCI Masters Cyclocross World Championship event Jan. 31. Hayles finished third in his division.
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Longtime Aspen cyclist Tom Hayles moved closer to a major goal by snaring a podium position in the Union Cycliste Internationale Masters Cyclocross World Championship event.

Hayles finished third in the masters 55-59 division and brought home a bronze medal. The championships were held in Louisville, Ky., Jan. 31.

Hayles, 54, has competed in cycling as a professional and elite amateur for about 35 years. He has won state and national championships in cyclocross but never previously finished in the top three in a world-championship event. He competed at the highest level of cyclocross while based in Zurich, Switzerland, from 1991 to 1994 and set a goal of earning the Rainbow jersey, awarded to the top competitor in each division.



The course in Louisville was thick with mud, according to Hayles. “Our strategy was to go out easy, run a little bit more,” Hayles said.

“I had to stop twice as my brake got stuck under the rim with all that mud.”




Henry Kramer, who won the division, ran an effective race, Hayles said.

“I’m glad he got it,” he said. “I’m happy to be on the podium. It’s a big thing.”

The world championships were held in the U.S. for the first time ever. It was the first time they were held outside Europe in 60 years.

Cyclocross is thought to be about 100 years old. Road riders, such as those who compete in the Tour de France, started it while they were trying to stay fit during winters. They created short, outdoor circuits through grass, sand and mud. Participants typically have to dismount and carry their bikes over unridable obstacles such as fallen trees, streams and steep terrain. The bikes are special hybrids of road and mountain bikes.

Events in Europe draw tens of thousands of spectators. It’s the fastest-growing segment of cycling in the U.S., Hayles said.


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