Erica Zaveta won her second race in a row at Pennsylvania’s Nittany Lion Cross, while a fresh face landed atop the men’s podium with France’s Matthieu Boulo taking victory Sunday in the UCI C2 event.
Zaveta attacks through the mud
Although sunshine broke through for the second day of racing, the course featured a notable mud pit early in the lap around the Valley Preffered Cycling Center venue.
Knowing that the mud would be a factor, Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme) took the holeshot, followed by Cassandra Maximenko (Van Dessel Factory Team) and Zaveta (Garneau-Easton Cycling).
“This was an important holeshot today,” said Kemmerer. “I just wanted to be the first one in there [the mud pit] so I could go where I wanted to go. I also did not pre-ride it. I knew it wouldn’t be ridable. So I usually have good starts. I thought it would split the field more than it did.”
One lap later, Zaveta moved into the lead. By the halfway point of the race, it was down to four riders — the same four who were in the winning selection in Saturday’s race — Zaveta, Kemmerer, Laura Van Gilder (Mello Mushroom-Van Dessel), and Regina Legge (Green Line Velo-Zipcar). Maximenko slipped back to fifth position.
“I made a move in the middle of the race, and kind of rode away in the technical turns to test, see how things were going,” Zaveta said.
The four stayed together until the last lap when Zaveta accelerated and took a 13-second lead over Kemmerer.
“With one lap to go, I attacked, right in the mud pit. I ran through it and got a gap there,” Zaveta said about her winning move. “Then I was committed, so I [was] full gas after the mud for the rest of it. I thought I went a little bit too early, but then I was ‘here we go.’”
Zaveta came home six seconds ahead of Kemmerer. Van Gilder rounded out the podium in third place.
“We were a group of four for a long time,” added Kemmerer. “We would get gaps without even knowing. The three of them attacked past the first pit on the last lap, going into the mud pit. All three of them went around me and there was nowhere to go. I just attached myself as fourth wheel and didn’t love doing that, but figured it’s OK. We were going really slow in the turns before the second pit entrance, and I was like, ‘I have to go now.’ I put some good time into Erica, but I didn’t have enough. She wasn’t that far ahead. I wish I would have executed a little differently, but I’m really happy to finish where I did.”
Boulo sprints to victory in men’s race
By the time the pro men lined up, the course had mostly dried out, apart from the mud pit, which had become sticky and slow.
With Saturday’s winner Kerry Werner (Kona) skipping day two, Boulo took the holeshot from the start, followed by Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld).
Behind, Alex Ryan (Pactimo-Mock Orange), Daniel Chabanov and Michael Owens (House Ind-Dwr-Hm) formed a chase group.
Nearing the halfway point, the teammates Chabanov and Owen moved past Ryan, but could not reel in Boulo and White.
“We weren’t making the race easy for each other. We both were pushing the pace, and wanting to test each other where we could,” White said about his battle with Boulo. “The first three laps, I think, he [Boulo] took control. I didn’t see him look back once. We were able to fight it out and it came down to, literally, the last couple hundred meters, or to the last corner.”
The lead duo kept pushing the pace with each lap and extending the gap to over two minutes on Chabanov headed into the final lap. With one to go, White tried to make a pass at the stairs but then lost position going into the turns.
“After the stairs, I took the lead and led through the chicanes in the woods,” White added. “I just wanted to take away any advantage he had there. In the last couple of meters before the corner, he dove to the inside, which maybe I would have done the exact same thing. It was a corner that we needed to race to. And it was too tight to make any other passes. I kept it within a bike length or two for the last few corners, but it just wasn’t enough to make the difference.”
It came down to a sprint at the line with Boulo taking the win.
“Two and one are good races,” Boulo said, referring to his second-place finish on Saturday and his win Sunday. “It was very fast in the corners. It’s technical — tight, tight, tight on the corners. It’s a good feeling on the bike.”
Belgian Yorben Van Tichelt (Neon Velo) overtook Chabanov on the final lap to take third on the day.
“I knew I was not in good shape coming into these races, so mentally I was just prepared that this was training. So, I’m pretty happy with this podium,” said Van Tichelt, who has been training in the U.S. for a month. “I was just so hot in the start, that my legs said, ‘No, not today.’ You know? I was in sixth or seventh place, and I just felt like something needs to happen. Well, it didn’t. I just said to myself, try to do good sections of the course not full laps, like interval training. And I saw that I was catching some people. That made me motivated to the finish.”
Van Tichelt will not race the World Cup races in Waterloo, Wisconsin or Iowa City later this month, but will return home to Belgium.
“I’m looking forward to this bad, rainy Belgian weather again,” he added. “I’m heading back to Belgium. I’m just not in good shape to do World Cups yet, I don’t want to disappoint myself.”
Racing for week 4 of ProCX will feature the midweek RenoCross in Reno, Nevada on Wednesday. This is the second C1 race of the season. RenoCross coincides with the Interbike tradeshow.
A Friday matinee will be held September 21 at the Trek Cup in Waterloo, Wisconsin. On Sunday, the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup series will begin in Wisconsin.