Kerry Werner (Kona) and Caroline Mani (Van Dessel) were the big winners on Saturday’s opening day of racing of the 2018 USA Cycling ProCX series. The pair snatched the victories on Day 1 of the Virginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross Race presented by Deschutes Brewery.
Werner rode to victory in a race of attrition on a wet course after some overnight rainfall and race day drizzle in Roanoke, Virginia. He rode into the last few laps with Tobin Ortenblad (Donkey Label Racing) and Jack Kisseberth (Garneau-Easton).
“The last lap and a half I knew I needed to be in the front,” Werner said. “To wait for one of those guys to attack, especially Tobin, when he lays it down it is pretty solid. So I tried to keep the tempo on the whole time.”
The plan worked.
Ortenblad’s tire slipped in a corner on the final lap, forcing him to come unclipped. That left Werner and Kisseberth to contest the win. Werner eked it out in the sprint, millimeters ahead of Kisseberth, to take the UCI C2-rated win. Ortenblad took third moments later.
On the women’s side, the race was all about Van Dessel Factory teammates Mani and Sunny Gilbert. The duo rode out to an early lead, and they kept the rest of the field in the rearview mirror for the rest of the race. Gilbert led solo at one point before Mani caught back up. A crash and the ensuing mechanical on the penultimate lap, however, stalled Gilbert and left Mani to press on solo.
Mani rode on to take the victory, with Gilbert managing to hold off Crystal Anthony (Liv Cycling) and nab runner-up honors.
“I think we combined together well,” Mani said of riding with Gilbert. “We had different strengths — I was better climbing and maybe technically, but on the flat sections she has a lot of power. It was a double win today.”
Racing at Deschutes GO Cross continues with Day 2 on Sunday.