Posted: Monday, July 2nd 2012 at 2:01pm
Local youth Branyon charges to national cycling title
By Jeff Hart Staff
GAINESVILLE -- While most rising seventh-graders are waiting for the next Xbox game to launch or sleeping late on weekends this summer, 12-year-old Davis Branyon has been rising early to ride his bike.
And not just around the neighborhood on your average one-speed Schwinn but on a 50-mile trek around northern Hall County beginning at 7 or 8 a.m. on his racing bike.
For Branyon’s father, Jeff, it has become borderline pestering.
“It would be nice to sleep in once in a while but Davis is always wanting to improve and get better so that’s what we’ve been doing,” Jeff Branyon said. “Virtually every day.”
The routine paid major dividends as Davis recently shocked the juniors men 10-12 division by winning the USA national championship criterium over riders from nearly all 50 states. Branyon nipped Ben Clark of Portland, Ore., at the line to bring home the gold medal.
“I felt I had a chance and I saw my opening at the end and went for it,” Davis said. “It was a fast race and I just stayed with the pack and broke away at the end. It was an amazing feeling to win it. I was surprised because there are so many good riders.”
Branyon is part of Frazier Cycling out of Suwanee and coach and founder, Ralph Frazier, said Davis literally came out of the pack to put himself in the spotlight. He crashed in the road race on the first day and finished 15th but rallied in the time trials the next day finishing a surprising second.
“He’s only been doing this one year and he crashed in the first race of the weekend so we really had nothing to measure him by as far as how he would do,” Frazier said. “This kind of fast success is not typical. We have several riders that I felt had a more realistic chance to win their group who have been racing a lot longer than Davis.
“After he crashed we were concerned because he’s a big kid and time trials are his weakest event. But Davis is very disciplined and focused and it came out last week. He has a great natural sprint and he showed that at the end. He’s a big-time finisher. That’s how he wins races.”
Branyon keep himself in the main pack and was third heading into the final lap. He raced to the front to grab position and then hovered back into third to wait for his opening. When the lead group took off in the final third of the final lap, Davis never faltered and then used an impressive kick to take the lead in the final 50 meters, holding on for victory.
“His instinct to do that is something we try and teach all our riders but he was very crafty to run out to the lead and then fall back,” Frazier said. “That is something only the really experienced riders have mastered. If he doesn’t burn out and continues to work hard, he has a chance to do some big things. Although, it doesn’t get much bigger than national champion.”
Davis, who also plays football at Chestatee Academy, said he still plans to play in the fall but will continue to focus on cycling until the season ends in September in Dahlonega at the Six-Gap Criterium. He has already won events in Atlanta, Macon, Athens, Tuscaloosa, Ala., Greenville, S.C., and Anniston, Ala., in 2012.
“I like football but I think I can be better at cycling,” Davis said. “I would like to win some more races before the season ends.”
“Hopefully one day I can be in the Olympics. That would be cool,” Davis said.
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