By VeloNews Interactive
Johannes Huseby notched the biggest win of his career Saturday, beating New England cyclo-cross legend Frank McCormack in a two-up sprint to the finish line at the Castor’s Cyclo-Cross race in South Kingston, Rhode Island. It wasn’t a bad day for the McCormack family, however, as brother Mark clinched the 2001 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series title with a third-place finish.
After initiating the winning breakaway, Huseby (Independent Fabrication) had to withstand Team Saturn’s dreaded one-two McCormack punch. Huseby not only survived, but launched a series of scorching attacks that first took the fight out of his adversaries’ legs, and then their minds.
First to falter was Frank McCormack. With just three laps remaining in the race, Huseby attacked on the course’s paved climb. Mark McCormack stuck doggedly to the 25-year-old’s wheel, but his brother slipped off the back and quickly found himself 10 bike-lengths behind.
It looked like Huseby had overdone it, but Mark McCormack didn’t offer a counter-attack, perhaps in hopes that Frank might latch back on. Amazingly, he did rejoin the duo with two laps to go, but just at that moment Huseby took off again. Frank McCormack’s momentum carried him up to Huseby’s wheel, but Mark McCormack was cooked.
“I had no mental motivation,” he admitted after the race. “Johannes was riding great and I wasn’t feeling so good. I could go with his sharp attacks, but I was having trouble on the long power stretches.”
Although Frank McCormack’s sprint is usually unbeatable on the grass, Huseby deftly dove into the course’s final corner and held off his idol in the 50-yard sprint.
“Beating Frank wasn’t my goal,” the former collegiate champion admitted. “Yes, it feels good to beat them, but all in all, I was in it for the win.”
Finishing fourth on the day was Team Devo’s Adam Craig, the recently crowned under-23 U.S. national cyclo-cross champion. Saturn Development’s Josh Anthony crossed the line in fifth.
“Overall, it’s been a great season,” said Huseby, who also won the country’s longest-running cyclo-cross race in Putney, Vermont. “I haven’t been consistent, but I’ve had some great results.”
It was the second consecutive series title for McCormack, who edged out teammate Tim Johnson and new U.S. national champion Todd Wells (Mongoose) for the general classification in the seven-race series. Huseby’s victory at the Castor’s Cyclo-Cross wasn’t the only upset of the day. In the junior race, Team Devo’s Jeremy Powers edged out two-time U.S. national champion Jesse Anthony (Saturn Development) in another two-man sprint. Anthony has been virtually unbeatable this year, so it was a surprise to see anyone riding alongside him, never mind beating him to the finish line.
Perhaps no one was more surprised than Powers, who has been battling mononucleosis for most of the season. “I felt good today, really strong,” he said. “Jesse was going super fast, but he crashed going over the hurdles. Then he tried an extreme attack to make up for it, and I just hung on.”
When Anthony slowed in the corners of the race’s final lap, Powers dug in and put the hammer down, refusing to let Anthony pass him in the home stretch.
“I took it easy this week,” Anthony acknowledged. “I had the series clinched. But Jeremy has really come on strong, and I’m at the end of a long season. It was great to race against somebody.”
NCC/Bikereg.com rider Chris Hill finished third in the race, clinching second overall behind Anthony for the Verge series junior title. Jamie Driscoll (GMBC) and Joshua Benson (MVBC) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
In the elite women’s race, series leader Lyne Bessette had already wrapped up the series championship by virtue of her early-season domination, so it was left to Mary McConneloug (Jamba Juice) and Jodi Groesbeck (Putney/West Hill) to fight it out for second place. Just four points separated the two, so Saturday’s placing would prove decisive.
McConneloug and Groesbeck, who retained her U.S. masters national championship title last weekend, didn’t disappoint the crowd’s expectations, and both lit out from the start. For the first lap, each took the measure of the other while creating a comfortable gap to the rest of the field. Then, inexorably, the California transplant slipped away and there was nothing Groesbeck could do about it.
“I wanted to go out with something,” said McConneloug, who eventually soloed her way to victory. “I had to give it my best shot.”
McConneloug’s torrid pace split the field to pieces, with each finisher coming in about a minute apart. Behind Groesbeck, Bikereg.com’s Kathryn Roszko placed third, followed by U.S. collegiate and under-23 champion Alicia Genest (Richard Sachs), and her teammate, U.S. masters (30-35) champion Katrina Davis.
In the men’s masters race, Gearworks/SRP rider Scott Wade put an exclamation point on his season, winning both his race and the Verge masters title in convincing fashion. Hometown rider Tim Haitz (SYRC) pushed Wade to the brink, but couldn’t maintain the blistering pace on the final lap. Wade’s teammate, Paul Curley (U.S. national champion, 45+), finished third in the race, and second in the series. Sam Morse (Mass Bay Road Club) and Michael Bernard (Arc-en-Ciel) rounded out the podium.
1. Johannes Huseby, IF/CCB/Volkswagen, 1:01:55;
2. Frank McCormack, Saturn, 1:01:55;
3. Mark McCormack, Saturn, 1:02:51;
4. Adam Craig, Team Devo, 1:03:21;
5. Josh Anthony, Saturn Development, 1:03:21;
6. Alan Obye, Team Grimace, 1:03:49;
7. Bill Elliston, Jaeger, 1:03:55;
8. Jeffrey Craddock, CCB/Volkswagen, 1:04:21;
9. Troy Michaud, Eurotek, 1:04:28;
10. Jon Hamblen, Wheelworks/Cannondale, 1:05:21;
1. Mary McConneloug, JambaJuice/Gunnar Cycles, 0:45:59;
2. Jodi Groesbeck, Putney/West Hill, 0:46:58;
3. Kathryn Roszko, BikeReg.com Cyclo-cross Team, 0:47:55;
4. Alicia Genest, Richard Sachs, 0:48:34;
5. Katrina Davis, Richard Sachs, 0:49:26;
6. Susan MacLean, BOB, 0:49:46;
7. Anna Milkowski, Gearworks/SRP, 0:50:29;
8. Mary Georgetti, NEBC, 0:51:42;
9. Katherine Farago, NEBC/CycleLoft, 0:53:09;
10. Michele Smith, Boston Cyclocross Assn, 1 lap behind