Despite racing with a fractured right hand, Max Durtschi, 18 years old, raced to victory in both the road race and criterium in last weeks USA Junior National Championships. Durtschi earned the stars and stripes jersey in both events held in Bend, Oregon.
On Thursday (7/30) Durtschi pummeled the field in the grueling 108K Road Race. Starting in 90 degree F. temperatures the thermometer topped 100 degrees F. by the end, forcing 28 racers to abandon out of 122 racers. Durtschi, who rides for Hammer/CMG under the direction of Mr. Oliver “Butch” Martin (2x Olympic cyclist), rode to a solo finish followed by Nathan Wilson (Arlington, VA/Kelly Benefits) who crossed the line over 35 seconds behind him. Steve Black (Vienna VA/Capital Velo Club) took third place. The rest of the field finished two minutes behind. “It was really magical to solo across the line. With 3 kilometers to go it hit me that I was going to be national champion and I got goosebumps. That race was so hard and I suffered so much, but I didn’t feel any pain when I realized that I was going to win. It was especially wonderful to share it with my parents, teammates, friends, and supporters.
The following day (7/31) the heat wave continued. Despite soaring temperatures, Durtschi placed 7th out of 107 racers in the 24K Time Trial (TT). “The time trial did not go as well as I had planned. After the road race the day before I had to wait nearly three hours to produce a sample for the Anti-Doping officials and that extra time in the sun took even more out of my legs. The time trial course was hard and I lost focus a few too many times.”
Sunday’s (8/2) 50K Criterium raced through the spectator-packed streets of downtown Bend, Oregon. Durtschi did not disappoint. Thrilling the crowd with fierce attacks on the field, he set an unrelenting tempo. The fast pace quickly diminished the group of 110 racers as 41 lapped cyclists were eventually pulled. Durtschi, who went off the front early, maintained his lead until Morgan Ryan (Ventura CA/Major Motion) and Steve Black (Vienna, VA/Capitol Velo Club) bridged the gap. “We worked well together,” stated Durtschi, “ I was off the front for like 25 laps. With three to go I thought, ‘alright Max you are going to win another one.’” With half of a lap to go Durtschi attacked the other two riders and for a second time soloed across the line to win the national title. “I had such an adrenaline rush. The crowd was great, the announcer was going crazy. It was hard to believe that I was National champion once, but twice, that is still sinking in.”
Durtschi, who raced throughout USA Junior National Cycling Championships with a fractured hand stated, “I broke my hand during The Tour of the Red River Gorge (TRRG) in Kentucky. But I was not going to let a broken hand stop me from competing in Nationals.” Durtschi, who captured the King of the Mountain jersey in the TRRG, returned home to consult with Dr. Charlotte Alexander. “Dr. Alexander and Christine Bobbins (physical therapist) were great. They understood my need to compete and created a brace that would fit around my handlebars. Without them I would not have been racing.”
Durtschi skies with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation as a Nordic skier in the winter.