By Bryan Jew, VeloNews senior writer
On Sunday, the focus in Baltimore changed from cyclo-cross nationals to the SuperCup as the weekend drew to a close, but the races were no less exciting than they had been the day before. On a completely different course, newly re-crowned national champion Alison Dunlap (Clif Bar) put a cap on her weekend by completing the nationals-SuperCup double in convincing fashion, riding away from a field loaded with challengers. In the men’s race, Jonathan Page (Richard Sachs) made up for a disappointing fourth-place in the nationals race by winning a fast-paced shootout that eventually boiled down to a battle with SuperCup overall champion Marc Gullickson (Mongoose).
After winning her fifth consecutive national title on Saturday, Dunlap looked to be in for a tough test on Sunday. Ann Grande (Kona-Voicestream) had fought hard against Dunlap on Saturday before a flat tire and crash ended Grande’s bid, and Grande was primed for a re-match. Throw in silver medalist Carmen D’Aluisio (Clif) and Canadian road star Lyne Bessette (Saturn), who didn’t compete on Saturday, and you had the makings for an epic fight. Except that Dunlap had way too much for any of the challengers.
Bessette did her best to shake up the race, setting off at a blistering pace on the new course, which featured much more pavement, longer straight-aways, and only three dismount sections, versus five for the nationals. Only Dunlap could hold the Canadian’s wheel, while Grande dangled just off the pace for the entire opening lap, trying desperately to regain contact with the two leaders.
But once Dunlap attacked, at the beginning of the second lap, there was no catching her. As she has done so many times in the past, Dunlap simply rode away, leaving Bessette chasing, followed by the duo of Grande and D’Aluisio, while further back rode the quartet of Rachel Lloyd (Team Spine), Mary McConneloug (Jamba Juice), Jen Dial (Independent Fabrication) and Gina Hall (Clif).
A lap later, the early pace proved too much for Bessette, who was caught by Grande and D’Aluisio. “I was really surprised to see her,” said D’Aluisio. “I didn’t know if she had gone down, or tripped on a barrier. When I saw her, I thought, ‘Is that Lyne, or someone warming up on the course.'”
Although they reeled in Bessette, and then dropped her, there was no hope of catching Dunlap. “Alison was gone,” said D’Aluisio. “She was really gone.”
As for Grande, who had battled so hard on Saturday and thought “what if” after her mishap, she had another thought on Sunday. “I thought, ‘Crap, Alison was just messing with me yesterday.’ She was just gone,” said Grande, who nevertheless took home the SuperCup overall title.
Dunlap finished with a 19-second gap on D’Aluisio, who outsprinted Grande on the road finish for second place. Bessette came in alone for fourth, while Dial, who said this could be her last race, sprinted in to take fifth.
When it was all over, Dunlap said, “This is the second-best weekend I’ve had this year,” second only to her world mountain-bike championship win. “I was grimacing but smiling the whole way around the course. It was super fun.”
The fun didn’t end with the women’s race though, as the fast, road-oriented course created a shootout in the men’s race. The holeshot went to the veteran Dale Knapp (Kona-Voicestream), who continues to put in solid rides at the national level. He led up the paved climb and down into the first set of barriers, and was then relieved of the pacemaking by fellow Seattle rider Jonny Sundt (K2). From there, it became a rotating door at the front: Todd Wells (Mongoose-Hyundai), Page, Tim Johnson (Saturn), Alex Candelario (Big Shark-Cannondale), all taking their turns at the front and driving a long line of riders.
When new national champion Wells attacked halfway into the race, a chase group began to sort itself out, but it was still a large bunch of seven riders: Page, Johnson, Gullickson, Candelario, Knapp, Travis Brown (Trek-VW) and Mark McCormack (Saturn), who had fought his way up through the pack from some 20-25 riders back after a bad start.
Wells was reeled in, but as the laps wore on, the attacks just continued, but each time the leaders regroup. Each attack would take its toll, though, and eventually, people started to crack under the pressure.
The cracks opened wide with four laps to go in the nine-lap race. Gullickson attacked, but only Page could go with him, while Wells did his best to block for Gullickson. Johnson lead the chase, and one by one, the others fell off the pace, first McCormack, then Wells, then Knapp, and then finally Brown, until it was just Page and Gullickson up front and Johnson and Candelario chasing.
That’s the way it would stay, as the two leaders traded off and slowly pulled away from Candelario and Johnson. On the final lap, Gullickson went to the front, and Page kept him there until he was ready to move. “He was smart on the last lap and made me do the last lap pull and got the jump on me,” said Gullickson. “He’s a smart rider, and he’s strong.”
Page’s move came on the final set of barriers, with only a short stretch of grass and then several hundred meters of pavement to the finish.
Heading toward the barriers, Page launched a blistering attack, pushing to the very edge. He almost crossed the line, bobbling slightly over the barriers, but he managed to stay upright, and the move opened up the winning gap, as he sprinted away from Gullickson to take the win. “He almost stacked it,” said Gullickson. “I knew at that point that was my only hope, if he clipped a hurdle or something. He was sliding around on the last corner too, but to get the win, sometimes you have to put in on the line. I give him a lot of credit.”
Behind, Candelario took third ahead of Johnson, with Brown coming in alone for fifth.
For Page, it was a satisfying win, and one that will hopefully solidify his bid for a spot on the U.S. team for world’s.
“Yesterday I was just one step behind everyone,” said Page, who was happy to come away with one win on the weekend. “It’s great. That’s what I came here for. I wish it was yesterday, but today’s good as well.”
1. Jonathan Page, Richard Sachs; 2. Marc Gullickson, Mongoose-Hyundai; 3. Alex Candelario, Big Shark-Cannondale; 4. Tim Johnson, Saturn; 5. Travis Brown, Trek-VW.
1. Alison Dunlap, Clif Bar; 2. Carmen D’Aluisio, Clif Bar; 3. Ann Grande, Kona-Voicestream; 4. Lyne Bessette, Saturn; 5. Jen Dial, Independent Fabrication.
1. Jesse Anthony, Saturn Development; 2. Jeremy Powers, Devo; 3. Mike House, GoMart; 4. Aaron Bradford, Rad Racing; 5. Brent Bookwalter, Devo.
1. David Werling, Uconn; 2. Ryan McKinney, William & Mary; 3. Michael Cody, UVM; 4. Jason Baer, GS Mengoni; 5. Benjamin Peters, NECSA.
1. Gunnar Shogren, Guinness-Fort Frames; 2. Chris D’Aluisio, Specialized; 3. Scott Wade, Gearworks-SRP; 4. James Coats, Steelman; 5. Dennis Farrell, Red Rocks Velo.
1. Kathy Savary, Mid State Cycling Club; 2. Julie Lewis, Team Lake Effect; 3. Mary Ann Martinez, NEBC Cycleloft; 4. Dawn Richardson, Verizon; 5. Bonnie Stoeckl, Evolution.
Final Overall SuperCup standings to come