Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) and Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) collected the victories on Saturday in the Bay State Cyclocross.
Cold and wind greeted racers in Sterling, Massachusetts, host to the seventh round of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series and part one of the North American Cyclocross Trophy finals.
The course, which started the day frozen and muddy, had mostly thawed and dried out by the time the elites took to it, leaving a smooth and fast circuit. A classic cyclocross course, Tom Stevens’ design at the Chocksett Middle School was similar to those of past years, with long off-camber sections, trick, rutted corners and long, fast stretches on pavement and cinder tracks.
As has been the case in all the Verge races this year, the elite women had a tight group at the front from beginning to end. An eight-woman group eventually pared itself to five — Laura Van Gilder and Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes); Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club-Chaussure); Sally Annis (Crossresults.com-JRA Cycles); and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles).
Elliott constantly pushed the pace, driving the group on the open sections and eventually shedding Kemmerer and Bruno-Roy.
Reduced to three, the women seemed content to ride tempo, holding the chase at a consistent 15-second gap, waiting for mistakes. Van Gilder used all the experience she’s gained in more than 370 race wins in her career and sat in behind Elliott for almost the whole race.
A savvy racer herself, Elliott took full advantage of the cinder track to recover, knowing she would be able to close any attacks, should they come.
The three leaders matched each other until the last half lap when Annis made her move, attacking through the north side of the course. Van Gilder immediately closed the gap, relegating Elliott to third wheel as the group hit the finish stretch.
From there the win was largely academic as Van Gilder put a quick six bike lengths on her competitors to take the victory. Behind her Elliott edged Annis by barely a tire’s width in a photo finish. Twenty seconds later, Arley Kemmerer and Bruno-Roy hit the track with Kemmerer out-kicking Bruno-Roy for fourth.
With her third place, Annis regains the series leader’s jersey.
In the elite men’s race, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the race would be to see who could stick with Powers
Racing alone in New England as teammates Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll were in Belgium and Iowa, respectively, Powers came into the race motivated to pick up his first-ever win in the national series.
With a finish of fourth or better, Powers would clinch the overall in the NACT series, but like any other champion, he came to win. From the gun, Powers was at the front, quickly shedding Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart), Justin Lindine (Bikereg.com-Joe’s Garage) and Christian Favata (Favata’s Tablerock Tours and Bikes).
The only man able to hold his wheel was Luke Keough (Champion System-Keough Cyclocross). But with four laps to go, Powers broke free and Keough was trapped in no-man’s land, sliding back past Myerson and St John but holding on for a very impressive fourth place and U-23 victory.
Behind Powers, Myerson and St John were punishing each other in hopes of picking up the remaining podium spots. All was going well until Myerson missed a pedal after the barriers, giving St John the small gap he needed. In the blink of an eye, St John had put 10 seconds into Myerson and the two held their pace to the finish.
St John received the Devonshire Dental Most Aggressive Rider prize for his efforts. With Myerson third and Justin Lindine fifth, the distance between first and second place in the Verge NECCS has been nearly halved with only three rounds left to go.
Racing will start up again Sunday morning in Sterling with the NACT series final awards being presented at the end of the day.
- 1. Jeremy Powers, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, 56:13
- 2. Derrick St John, Garneau-Club Chaussure, 56:48
- 3. Adam Myerson, Cycle-Smart, 57:08
- 4. Luke Keough, Bikereg.com-Cannondale, 57:26
- 5. Justin Lindine, Bikereg.com-Joe’s Garage-Scott, 57:26
- 1. Laura Van Gilder, C3 Athletes Serving Athletes, 40:31
- 2. Natasha Elliott, Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy, same time
- 3. Sally Annis, Crossresults.com-Jra Cycles, s.t.
- 4. Arley Kemmerer, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, 40:51
- 5. Maureen Bruno Roy, Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles, 40:51