PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (VN) — Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team) and Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) won Saturday’s kickoff to the two-day Providence Cyclocross Festival at Roger Williams Park.
Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) got off to a good start in the women’s race, blasting off the starting grid and into the early lead on the rolling, wind-whipped 3.2km course, which featured two sets of stairs, one set of double barriers, off-camber turns, short, punchy climbs and a brand-new ride-up flyover.
But British national champion Wyman quickly displaced Day at the front, relegating the Rapha rider to second with Kaitlin Antonneau (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) third.
Wyman already had a commanding lead going onto the pavement for the start of lap two. Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) had moved into second, but the Kona rider was practically out of sight by the time her pursuers crossed the line some 10 seconds down.
A lap later Wyman had nearly doubled her advantage over a chase containing Day, Antonneau, Krasniak, Meredith Miller (Cal Giant-Specialized), Lea Davison (Specialized) and Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda-Seven). And despite its numerical advantage the chase was having no luck whatsoever in retrieving the race leader.
With two laps remaining Wyman had a 40-second lead, leaving the others, joined by Crystal Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com), to race for second.
Bell lap saw Wyman long gone, nearly a minute ahead of the chase, and Antonneau launching a solo bid for the runner-up spot. McConneloug led the remnants of the pursuit as they raced past the pit, but now they were racing for third.
Wyman easily took the win, while Antonneau’s attack was good enough for second. Anthony rounded out the podium in third.
“I dug deep for that last lap.” Antonneau said. “I’m really happy about the podium. It boosts my confidence and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
• Race note: Miller crashed out of the race on the last lap and went to hospital for a checkup after clipping a pedal and getting a hand tangled in her bike. Later, via Twitter, she reported that she had suffered spiral fractures to two metacarpals and surgery seemed likely, adding: “Could’ve been worse, right?”
Counting down from four to one
As in the women’s race, it was a Briton — Ian Field (Hargroves Cycle-Specialized) — who took the early lead in the men’s contest. Unlike his countrywoman Wyman, however, he would not hold it. Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) soon took over and led a 12-man group through the start-finish to end the first lap.
Berden punched it going across the line and gapped the others, leaving Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) to lead the chase. Johnson fought up to him, but it was teammate Ryan Trebon who would grab the lead as a mechanical took Johnson out of the race.
Twenty minutes into the hourlong race the big man had a narrow advantage over Berden, with U.S. ’cross champ Powers third and Field fourth, and by midrace it was a four-man battle for primacy.
Powers led a three-man group across the line and into four laps to go, the pace having popped Field off the back. With two to go Berden had lost contact, too, and it was just Trebon and Powers in contention for the win, with the Belgian a dogged third and Field clinging to fourth.
But there can be only one — and in the end, that one was Powers, who took the victory ahead of Trebon with Berden third.
“This was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever fought with Ryan,” said Powers. “And we’ve had a lot of battles.”