Charm City Cross, day one: Noble and Werner fight to win
Rain from Thursday and Friday had created muddy conditions, with hundreds of juniors and masters riders packing down some of the areas on the course with its featured staircase, which towered 50 feet in height with 29 steps.
Noble takes a tactical race
The race soon hotted up in the Elite Women’s, with a battle for the lead between the top two women in the ProCX standings, Noble, who is now ranked second overall, and points leader Maghalie Rochette (CXFever p/b Specialized).
Kaitie Keough (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) was not far behind them, with Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) 10 to 15 seconds back.
Rochette, who took the holeshot, did most of the work out front for the first half of the five-lap contest, though Noble did put in some short-lived attacks that extended the duo’s lead over Keough to 20 seconds.
Noble attacked after the final climb up the staircase and took a gap into the final turns which she held through to the finish, taking the victory in 45:37. Rochette followed in second, and Keough third, 28 and 58 seconds back respectively.
“It was definitely a super tactical race, which is something that I’m not really used to. Maghalie is specifically such a hard racer to race against,” said Noble.
“I’m actually happy with it (the race), because I really gave it everything I had today. Ellen was just stronger today, and there’s nothing I can do about that,” said Rochette.
Werner wins in hard-fought fight
Racing fired up immediately in the Elite Men’s, with five riders going clear, with Werner, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Matthieu Boulo (Team Pays de Dinan), Michael van den Ham (Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions), and Jamey Driscoll (Pivot Cycles/Maxxis p/b Stan’s/DNA Cycling) getting the gap.
After numerous attacks from the lead group, Werner moved to the front with two laps remaining and picked up the pace. White would not be able to stay in touch with the leaders, leaving four out front.
Buolo fought back and opened a small gap on Werner, whilst van den Ham and Driscoll dropped back. Werner managed to just stay in contact however, and went on to overhaul Buolo and take the win with a time of 58:12. Boulo finished eight seconds back.
Driscoll took third place in a final sprint with van den Hem, 25 seconds behind the leader.
“I really had to work in the corners to bring him back before the (Zoo) Mansion Hill. I connected right at the bottom – I was gassed,” added Werner. “I managed to just slot in front of him (Boulo) at the top and kind of work the corners off the top of the hill. I got three seconds and just ran with it. It was freaking tight. I was not ever relaxed this entire race. It was good. I was happy to win the C1 that way. Man, I am ecstatic. So pulling it off today was huge.”