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McConneloug, Powers tops in Northampton

The 19th annual Cycle-Smart International started off with a bang in Northampton, Massachusetts, Saturday.

Under clear blue skies, the Verge NECC series sprung back into action for its 9th round as the elite fields were won by two local favorites, Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) and Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com).

An Early split

The Elite women split up quickly from the gun with McConneloug and Natasha Elliott (Garneau-Club Chassure-Ogilvy) breaking away from the field on the first lap.

A chase group formed behind them with series leader Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing), Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), Minuteman Road Club racers Andrea Smith and Anna Barensfeld as well as Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (pedalpowercoaching.com-Landry’s Bicycles).

McConneloug and Elliott were able to stretch their advantage on the chase group and were matching each other move for move until Elliott bobbled in the sand.

McConneloug, hearing of Elliott’s bobble over the loudspeaker, threw down a huge attack and held Elliott at an arm’s length for the rest of the race, eventually finishing with a twenty second advantage.

Behind them, Van Gilder proved to be too strong for the chase group and soloed in for third place ahead of Bruno-Roy. Barensfeld outsprinted Smith for fourth.

Chaos from the gun

With a field of more than fifty, the Elite men’s race was chaos at the start.

A broken chain caused a massive pile-up only 100 meters from the start, leaving many riders to walk their bikes off the course, assess damage and prepare for Sunday.

Ahead of the chaos though, were Jeremy Powers and Jamey Driscoll of the dominant Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com team. With them were series leader Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs-RGM-Radix) and Nicholas Weighall (California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized).

Not far behind them were Jerome Townsend (bikereg.com-Joe’s Garage-IF) and Adam Craig (Giant MTB Team). Powers and Driscoll controlled the front of the race the same way they’ve been controlling races all season. Their pressure proved to be too much for Weighall as he fell off the hard pace, eventually holding on for fourth.

Like Weighall, Timmerman was unable to match the pace, but rode valiantly to keep the leaders within a few seconds until the last two laps. Timmerman was able to hold on to third, thirty seconds back, and retain his series leader’s jersey.

Adam Craig looked like he was going to be able to bring himself to the leaders but with two to go, he dropped his chain and lost several spots but fought back for fifth place in his return to racing in New England.

The U-23 race came down to a two-up sprint between Jerome Townsend and series leader Luke Keough (Team Champion System) with Townsend taking victory.[slideshow id=12]

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