By Wendy Booher
Cooler, windier weather on Day 2 of the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross Mercer Cup, presented by Knapp’s Cyclery, in New Jersey, made Saturday’s tough race conditions look easy by comparison.
Thicker, stickier mud competed with gusting winds for an extra punch in the gut but Day 2 saw a repeat for the women, with LUNA teammates Georgia Gould and Katerina Nash clinching gold and silver by a wide margin. It was GT’s Todd Wells who emerged the victor in the men’s event.
“This is extreme,” Nash remarked about the mud that reached a depth of four inches in spots. “This is definitely one of the most ‘running’ cyclocross courses we’ll get all year.”
Slowed by the muck, the teammates stampeded through the sticky sections, each trying to get a leg-up on the other. Nash fiercely tailed Gould throughout most of the three-lap race while Gould narrowly held her distance.
“It was the same pace if you were running or riding,” Gould said. “If you ride, you could come to a complete stop; then you lose time if you keep getting on and off your bike. I just felt like I could stay smoother and make fewer mistakes if I was running.”
Gould medal racing
Gould, who swept last year’s Mercer Cup with commanding leads each day, repeated the feat this year under far less favorable conditions.
While the absence of racers like Alison Sydor, Lyne Bessette, and Kelli Emmitt was noticeable to some racers, the new guard of competition proved no less formidable. Multi-talented Rachel Lloyd (California Giant Berry Farms), Canadian national champion, Wendy Simms, and first place finisher in the women’s 30-34 age category at last year’s nationals, Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing, presented by Seven Cycles), each took turns jockeying for the podium with Bruno Roy taking third on Saturday and Lloyd in third on Sunday.
Gould finished off rounds 3 and 4 of the USGP in the leader’s jersey, just ahead of Nash, who could take it back in round 5 in Portland, Ore. on December 6.
Day 1 men’s winner, Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale), suffered a crash midway through his race on Saturday and found himself unable to ride on Sunday. An injury to his left knee triggered enough swelling and pain finally forced Johnson to make the decision to pass on Sunday’s race.
“It’s not the kind of decision you make lightly,” said Johnson. “I’ve never not started a ‘cross race. It was tough to stand and watch from the sidelines.”
With Johnson out, Barry Wicks (Kona) stepped to the front and started hard by leading the field into the first turn. Powers, Trebon, Jacques-Maynes, and the Wells brothers took over from there and, toward the end of the first lap, the lead group was down to just Todd Wells and Powers.
Todd Wells, a two-time Olympian and national cyclocross champion, yielded nothing to Powers, who responded by pressuring Wells to keep the pace high and to make few errors.
“We began together going so hard and looking for the other one to bobble in order to get a gap,” Wells said. “But we are evenly matched. I crashed a few times and, since he was right behind me, he sort of did too.”
Wells and Powers flew around the course, each making enough errors along the way, which eventually allowed the younger Wells to bridge the gap and match pace.
“To get up there, I was just getting my lines right,” Troy Wells said. “It was easy to catch people who were bobbling up front or who were making mistakes. I thought if I can get through there without a mistake, that’s time back. That’s how I was trying to catch them.”
By the race’s midpoint, the Wells brothers moved away from Powers and turned their attention on each other with a series of late-race charges.
A surge in the last lap by Todd Wells distanced him from his younger brother by twenty bike lengths, a gap that he stretched to eleven seconds by the finish.
To go with his second place finish, Troy Wells also picked up the award for the Most Aggressive Rider for his battle against the elements and a field stacked with top ‘cross talent.
? With the action raging at the front of the field, fans found a way to liven things up for the riders just hoping to survive the day. A crowd of fans planted at a turn at the top of a soupy run-up, began placing dollar bills in the muck, encouraging riders to reach down to pluck the cash from the mire, which drew cheers from the crowd, especially for those who managed the most stylish retrievals.
1. Georgia Gould Luna
2. Katerina Nash Luna
3. Rachel Lloyd California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized
4. Wendy Simms Kona
5. Maureen Bruno Roy Mm Racing P/b Seven Cycles
6. Deidre Winfield Velo Bella – Kona
7. Josie Jacques-Maynes Specialized/kmc Pb Cal Giant
8. Sue Butler Monaviecannondale.com
9. Natasha Elliot Emd Serono/ Stevens
10. Laura Van Gilder C3 Sollay
11. Meredith Miller California Giant Strawberries/ Specialized
12. Amy Dombroski Velo Bella – Kona
13. Sarah Kerlin Hrs/ Rock Lobster
14. Kathy Sherwin Velo Bella – Kona
15. Kristin Wentworth Planet Bike
16. Sally Annis Nebc/cycle Loft/devonshire Dental
17. Melanie Swartz
18. Nikki Thiemann Human Zoom Pabst Blue Ribbon
19. Anna Young Planet Bike
20. Rebecca Wellons Ridley Factory Team
21. Patty Buerkle Vanderkitten
22. Kristin Gavin Human Zoom/pabst Blue Ribbon
23. Elizabeth Frye Boone Velo
24. Anna Milkowski Velo Bella-Kona
25. Amy Wallace Richard Sachs
26. Kaitlin Antonneau Nova Cycle Sport Foundation
27. Jennifer Maxwell Team Kenda Tire
28. Vicki Thomas Ottawa Cross
29. Diane Grim C3-Sollay.com
30. Lauri Webber Secret Henry’s Team
31. Julie Kuliecza Alan North America Cycling
32. Perri Mertens Embrocation Racing/cambridge Bicycle
33. Kristy Swope Eps/css/riptide Cycling’a’
34. Rebecca Blatt Team Kenda Tire
35. Kristine Church Human Zoom/ Pabst Blue Ribbon
36. Marci Titus Hall Desalvo Custom Cycles
37. Whitney Kroll Cane Creek
Men’s results: | ( Women’s results)
1. Todd Wells Team Gt
2. Troy Wells Team Clif Bar
3. Jeremy Powers Crossworld/cannondale
4. Jamey Driscoll Cyclocrossworld/cannondale
5. Andy Jacques-Maynes Specialized/kmc Pb Cal Giant
6. Ryan Trebon Kona
7. Nicholas Weighall Rad Racing/hagens Berman
8. Barry Wicks Kona
9. Matt Shriver Jittery Joe’s Pro Cycling Team
10. Daniel Summerhill Team Clif Bar
11. Nicholas Keough Sonic/ Louis Garneau
12. Davide Frattini Colavita Sutter Home P/b Cooking Light
13. Dan Timmerman Reynolds
14. Mark Lalonde Planet Bike
15. Christopher Jones
16. Derrick St. John Stevens Cross
17. Stephen Tilford
18. Weston Schempf C3-Sollay.com!
19. Aaron Schooler Team H & R Block
20. Adam Mcgrath Van Dessel
21. Matthew O’keefe Ccb/volkswagen
22. Adam Myerson Cycle-Smart
23. Justin Spinelli
24. Brian Matter Gear Grinder
25. Chance Noble California Giant Berry Farms/specialized
26. Tyler Wren Colavita / Sutter Home Presented By Cooking Light
27. Ryan Iddings Lapierre Usa
28. Nathanael Wyatt Carolina Fatz Pb Santa Cruz Bicycles
29. Mitchell Peterson Monaviecannondale.com
30. Michael Gallagher C3-Sollay.com
31. Justin Robinson California Giant Berry Farms/specialized
32. Braden Kappius Clif Bar Development Cross Team
33. Josh Dillon Fiordifrutta / Cannondale
34. Andrew Wulfkuhle C3-Sollay.com
35. Matt Kraus Rgm Watches – Richard Sachs – Boathouse Inc
36. Jeremy Ferguson Cal Giant/specialized
37. Bjorn Selander Ridley Factory Team
38. Mitch Hoke Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross Team
39. Rickey Visinski Exodus Road Racing
40. Colin Cares Clif Bar Development Cyclo-Cross Team
41. Patrick Bradley Rutgers University Cycling Team
42. William Dugan Rgm Watches – Richard Sachs – Boathouse Inc
43. Stephen Cummings Indiana Regional Medical Center
44. Charles Pendry Inland Construction
45. Andrew Guptill Colavita/sutter Home Pro Cycling Team
46. Travis Livermon Cannondale / Ccn
47. Christian Favata Favata’s Tablerock Tours And Bikes
48. Steve Fisher Rad Racing / Hagens Berman
49. David Hackworthy Ridley
50. Greg Wittwer Alan North America Cycling Team
51. Andrew Llewellyn Calistoga Racing Team