Curtis White and Kerry Werner battle
Photo credit: Kona

2019/20 North American Race of the Year: Elite Men’s Pan-American Championships

The story of the year in the Elite Men’s ranks was the battle between Curtis White and Kerry Werner. While Gage Hecht’s ride at Nationals deserves mention, we chose the battle between White and Werner at the Pan-American Championships in November. It was one of many back and forth battles between the duo and this one was a true slugfest. Adding to the drama was a stellar ride by Jamie Driscoll, who seemingly came out of nowhere to claim third.

24 riders took to the start line in Midland, Ontario, Canada for the 2019 Pan-American Championships. The three-time US National Champion, Stephen Hyde, was on the front row, as was four-time Canadian National Champion, Michael van den Ham. However, all eyes were on the defending champion, Curtis White, and his not-so-bitter rival, Kerry Werner. There was plenty of other young North American talent in the field, but those four riders were the hot favorites.

If you have a chance, go check out CXHairs video of the race here:

With that said, we are going to jump straight to the end to recap what was an incredibly thrilling finale. In the last lap, White passed Werner leading into the final technical section. Right before the end of a series of off-cambers and steep pitches, Werner re-took the lead. With a small gap, Werner sprinted up the first set of stairs and powered up the second set. After that, Werner dove down the slick plunge that had claimed many riders, including Driscoll, and powered his way to a clear victory.

As we mentioned, the cherry on top of this race, and what ultimately made it our North American Race of the Year, was the ride by Jamie Driscoll. At the end of the first lap, Driscoll was in 11th place, a little over 10 seconds behind Werner and White. He moved up to eight place after lap two about six seconds behind the lead group. After that, Driscoll lit it up, posting the fastest lap times during lap four, five and six. It was here that Driscoll made contact with the lead group and powered his way to a third place finish. Despite the battle up front, this truly was the ride of the race.

What was your North American race of the year? Let us know below.

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