Amanda Miller, Ben Berden take round 1 at Gateway Cross Cup

Miller proves fastest in a three-up sprint as Berden escapes a lead group to finish alone

Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) and Amanda Miller (Tibco-To the Top) raced to victory in day one of the Gateway Cross Cup in St. Louis.

The race, part of the Cross After Dark Series, featured bone-dry conditions and a fast, relatively non-technical course in Heman Park.

Elle Anderson (California Giant-Specialized) surged out of a big group early in the women’s race, but flatted, leaving a three-woman chase in the lead.

The trio — Miller, Nicole Duke (Marin-Spy) and Courtenay McFadden (Cycling Northwest) — worked to keep a resurgent Anderson at bay while conserving a bit for what would be a three-up sprint.

Duke bobbled in one of the final corners, giving Miller the edge she needed to take the win. Duke hung on for second with McFadden third.

In the first two laps of the men’s race, nearly the entire field stayed stuck together in what looked more like a road race than a cyclocross. A group of 10 eventually peeled clear, then dwindled to a quartet — 2012 champion Berden, Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus), Cody Kaiser (Cal Giant) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar).

The group shed Kaiser, and with a half lap to go Berden gave it the gas and held his advantage to the line.

“The guys up front probably thought I would wait for the finish, but I did a surprise attack with one half lap to go,” he said. “I have a fast sprint so I didn’t need to attack, but if you can drop them with one to go, it’s more secure.”

McDonald finished second with Wells third.

The Gateway Cross Cup continues Sunday.