Williams and Werner survive the snow to win at North Carolina GP

Freezing conditions and the late arrival of snow made for slippery, attritional conditions at Jackson Park, Hendersonville.

Storm Diego blew in just as the racing started at North Carolina GP Saturday. Snow fell and melted on the surfaces, making for slick, slippery racing that saw wins for Lily Williams (The Pony Shop) and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano).

Williams goes solo as contenders slip up

NC GP 2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

Williams took her first ProCX win of the season in the women’s, taking the lead early and having a clear run through the race.

Course conditions changed between the pre-ride and the start of the race due to falling snow, making the course greasy, and this was evident as several riders at the front crashed in the first lap, including Erica Zaveta (Renewed Cyclocross) and Hannah Arensman. This loss of rhythm allowed Williams to gain distance at the front by lap two.

Williams continued to extend her lead through the middle of the race. Meanwhile, behind her, Zaveta would work her way back into contention, passing Arensman and Emma Swartz (Trek Cyclocross Collective).

Williams remained on the front until the end of the race, and took victory in 47:11. Zaveta took second, 30 seconds back. Third place was taken by Swartz, 57 seconds off the pace.

“I got out of the traffic pretty quickly. It was getting slippery as the race went on,” said Williams. “I think in the woods is where I got separation. I don’t really know how it happened, but I just kind of rolled with it. Just being able to go one speed the whole race is really good for me. And staying upright. I didn’t go down once! That was very nice. Not falling was definitely a plus.”

“I was hoping to win, because I live near here. I always wanted to win this race,” said Zaveta. “Mostly, I’m really happy that I feel like I’m competitive and I’m racing. I feel like I rode a good race, minus crashing. That’s always the best feeling, I had fun.”

Werner outlasts Willsey for the win

NC GP2018
Photo: Bruce Buckley

ProCX leader Werner gained his eighth ProCX victory of the year in the falling snow.

Werner and Cooper Willsey (Cyclocrossworld) went toe-to-toe down the start chute, starting the fight for the front straight away, though Werner took the holeshot. The pair continued shoulder to shoulder for the next four laps, with Willsey doing much of the work at the front.

Behind them, Gunnar Holmgren (Hardwood Next Wave) chased with Eric Thompson and Alex Ryan. With three laps to go, Thompson faded and Holmgrem moved up to third.

At the head of the race, Werner attacked on three laps remaining and Willsey was unable to match him, allowing Werner to go solo to the win, with Willsey following, 50 seconds back. Holmgrem finished third, seven seconds behind him.

“It wasn’t super soupy out there, just a constant spray from the snow melting in the tracks,” said Werner. “My body was good too, it was mostly just my hands. Every straightaway I was swinging them, trying to get the pendulum effect and get some blood down in them. It wasn’t too bad until the last two laps and then it got real cold.”

“I just didn’t want anybody in front of me with the conditions as they were,” Werner continued. “For the most part, I knew it was going to be slippery. I tried to be patient those first couple laps and just see how everybody else was riding.”

“I tried to put myself in a good position, trying not to be caught by anyone,” said Willsey. “I paid for it a bit in the end, and got pretty cold. The body shut down in the last two laps. But it was a fun race and I love conditions like this. It was a blast.”