By Pat Malach
Portland Bicycle Studio’s Molly Cameron made it two in row Sunday by taking the Men’s A race at Cross Crusade No. 4, while Emily Van Meter (Hudz-Subaru) notched her first win of the season in the Women’s A race.
The skies finally opened up and dumped enough precipitation to bring out the mud for the first time this Cross Crusade season, and the rain had riders slipping and sliding over the pancake-flat course at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro.
With series leader Wendy Williams (Hudz-Subaru), winner of the first three races, in Kentucky for the USGP Derby City Cup, teammate Van Meter surged to the front to pick up Williams’ ongoing battle with Alice Pennington (Veloforma).
“When the cat’s away, the mice will play,” Van Meter said of her opportunistic win.
Van Meter and Pennington opened a huge gap on the rest of the field almost immediately. The pair rode together for most of the first lap until Pennington went down on an off-camber, slightly uphill section.
“My buddy told me that she had crashed,” Van Meter said. “So I just put my head down and tried to get as big a gap as I could. Then I just tried to ride it smart and smooth and keep it upright. It was slick, really slick.”
Pennington, who’s finished second three times in the series and third once, chased hard to try and bring back Van Meter, but the Veloforma rider couldn’t close the gap.
“I would pull back a little bit,” Pennington said of her chase. “I think the closest I got was five seconds. But I just never had it to catch her. I think she knew I was chasing hard, so she never let up.”
Van Meter cruised across the finish line solo for the win, with Pennington just a handful of seconds behind. Sunnyside Sports’ Serena Bishop crossed the line next for third. River City Bicycles’ Brigett Stoik finished fourth, just ahead of Tina Brubaker (Vanilla Workshop).
A crash, a gap and a win
In the Senior Men’s A race, Cameron joined series leader Sean Babcock (Team S&M) and Michael Gallagher (C3 Athletes) at the front of the race, where they wasted little time opening a gap on the rest of the field.
The trio shared the work, steadily building their lead until first Gallagher fell off the lead pace, followed by Babcock. Alone at the front, Cameron continued to apply the pressure and started building a solid lead when Babcock went down in the deep mud.
“It was definitely a different style of racing today,” Babcock said. “It was flat, and it was pretty slippery. “Molly accelerated on the flat sections and just slowly opened things up.”
Babcock, who came into the day with a solid series lead, began to whittle away Cameron’s advantage as the race drew to a close, but the crash wrote finis to that. Cameron “really got a gap on us; pretty smart racing,” said Babcock.
Cameron hung onto the lead and cruised in for a comfortable win. Babcock dropped Gallagher from the chase and finished second. Gallagher held on for third, ahead of Capitol Subaru Cycling’s Brett Luelling and Gentle Lovers’ Mark Blackwelder.
“I’m really stoked,” Cameron said after the win. “I’m really happy to be winning races. I’ve been working so hard. It’s fun. I was stoked when it was the three of us off the front because it’s fun to have a good battle. (Babcock’s) riding really strong, and I’m riding really strong. So we’ll see.”
• Kona rider Erik Tonkin finished sixth Sunday in Oregon after winning the most-aggressive rider at Saturday’s USGP in Kentucky, where he fought from the back row to the front of the race, rolled a tire and then did it all over again to finish 18th. The Herculean effort had some of his Oregon opponents worried. “I saw that result and I knew Erik was going to show up on Sunday and clobber us,” Cameron said. “But when I attacked and he wasn’t around, I figured he was feeling (Saturday’s effort). But it’s crazy that he pulled that off. He does that all the time.”
• More than 1,250 racers participated in the fourth installment of the eight-race series, a slight dip from the record 1,453 who showed up for the series opener. Next week’s Cross Crusade goes coastal with a Saturday and Sunday Halloween weekend doubleheader in Astoria.
Cross Crusade No. 4
Senior Men A
- 1. Molly Cameron, Portland Bicycle Studio
- 2. Sean Babcock, eam S&M
- 3. Michael Gallagher, C3 Athletes
- 4. Brett Luelling, Capitol Subaru Cycling)
- 5. Mark Blackwelder, Gentle Lovers
- 6. Erik Tonkin, Kona
- 7. Eric Sheagley, Veloce-Felt
- 8. Ben Thompson, DeSalvo Cycles
- 9. Steven Hunter, Veloshop
- 10. David Roth, Signal Cycles
Senior Women A
- 1. Emily Van Meter, Hudz-Subaru
- 2. Alice Pennington, Veloforma
- 3. Serena Bishop, Sunnyside Sports
- 4. Brigett Stoik, River City Bicycles
- 5. Tina Brubaker, Vanilla Workshop)
- 6. Abby Jenkins, Super Relax
- 7. Megan Faris, River City Bicycles
- 8. Rhonda Mazza, Team S&M
- 9. Christy Love, Mighty Ride
- 10. Julie Browning, Cyclepath