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ELKTON, Md. — Kristin Gavin (Team CF) and Weston Schempf (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) soloed to victory on Saturday in round 10 of the Mid-Atlantic Cyclocross Series.
An archetypal East Coast fall day set the scene for MAC racers who were treated to a technically challenging cross course at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Center that required vigilance in every off-camber twist and turn.
In the women’s race Gavin and Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) made an early break and appeared to be untouchable. On the third of five laps Gavin attacked on the long gravel road that served as the start/finish, opening a gap that Kemmerer could not close. Katrina Dowidchuk (Team Deep Blue) chased down several riders to secure the third podium step.
The real excitement proved to be the race for fifth. Gavin’s teammate Carolyn Popovic, apparently still operating on the New England race schedule, was in the parking area when the whistle blew and rode like she was on fire to try to catch the group.
Popovic overcame the minute-plus deficit and clawed her way to fifth position. But three quarters of the way through the final lap, she got tangled in tape after a tricky right-hand turn, losing a place to Patty Buerkle (VA Asset Group-Artemis). After the race she joked, “I thought at first it was the men’s race until I noticed all the ponytails.”
The men’s elite race was proved equally exciting. Schempf delivered a superb ride, racing virtually unchallenged for the win.
Canadian Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) rode within sight of Schemp, and at times seemed to be gaining on him, but with three laps to go, Schempf accelerated and increased his lead, ensuring no one would spoil his day.
Garrigan held on for second as Jared Neiters (Haymarket) rallied for third.
Shortly after the top finishers crossed the line, an intense battle for fourth erupted at the final barrier crossing near the final turn onto the finishing stretch. Greg Wittwer (Alan North America) attacked at the barriers, gaining a few bike lengths on his two competitors, including Olympian Bobby Lea. Firing on all cylinders, Wittwer had enough gas left in the tank to hold off the track champion as the two sprinted for the finish.