By Nathan Mealey
Last year’s Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series champions – Marc Gullickson (Redline) and Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) – returned to the fore on Saturday as the series moves into its final weekend.
From the starting whistle in South Kingstown, Rhode Island, the men’s elite race was on fire. Series leader Mark McCormack (Saturn) got the hole shot on theuphill sprint start, with newly crowned under-23 national champion JesseAnthony (Hot Tubes) right on his wheel. By the end of the first lap, a leadgroup containing McCormack, Anthony, Gullickson, Ben Turner(7UP-Maxxis), and Zak Grabowski (Hot Tubes) had formed, and the rest ofthe field had detonated in their wake.
Midway through the second lap, Gullickson threw down the gauntlet with a strong attack that none of the other riders could match. As he gradually stretched his lead out, Grabowski began to fall off the pace, losing time in the slippery turns,leaving the other three to chase the leader.
With three laps to go, McCormack and Anthony gapped Turner, who crashed as he gassed it trying to catch them. With the chase group down to two riders, Gullickson’s grip on the win was secure, and the race was now for second place.
Coming through the start-finish with one lap to go, Anthony attacked McCormack, but was unable to shake him, and McCormack won the race for second. Grabowski managed to catch Turner and eventually crossed the line for fourth,while Turner picked up the remaining UCI points with fifth place.
Gullickson’s win brought him closer to taking the jersey back from McCormack inSunday’s double-points finale in Merrimack, New Hampshire, where if Gully wins, McCormack must finish second to keep the lead.
With three newly crowned national champions in the elite women’s field, McConneloug had her work cut out for her – especially considering that for the first time in two years, the series leader’s jersey was onsomeone else’s shoulders (Anna Milkowski of (Gearworks-SpinArts).
And when the start whistle blew, it was clear thatthese other riders fully intended to make life difficult for McConneloug.Marianne Stover (Gearworks-SpinArts) launched a fierce uphillsprint and promptly built a gap between herself and the field. McConneloug was chasing hard, with Milkowski and Sinead Fitzgibbon (EAS) just behind her.
By the midpoint of the first lap, McConneloug had caught Stover, and then sprinted away. After two laps, Milkowski and Fitzgibbon had caught Stover and set off in a vain pursuit of the leader. McConneloug extended her lead on every lap, leaving Milkowski to take second – not enough to maintain her hold on the leader’s jersey, which reverted to McConneloug. Fitzgibbon finished in third, just in front of Stover.
1.Marc Gullickson (Redline)
2. Mark McCormack (Saturn)
3. Jesse Anthony (Hot Tubes)
4. Zak Grabowski (Hot Tubes)
5. Ben Turner (7UP-Maxxis)
6. Jon Bruno (ECV)
7. Jacob Stechmann (Alan Factory Team)
8. Michael Broderick (Seven Cycles)
9. Johannes Huseby (Fiordi Frutta)
10. Adam Hodges Myerson (Cycle-Smart)
1. Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles)
2. Anna Milkowski (Gearworks-Spin Arts)
3. Sinead Fitzgibbon (EAS- CRCA)
4. Marianne Stover (Gearworks-Spin Arts)
5. Celeste Drumm (Mean Wheels Bike Shop)
6. Pauline Frascone (Arc-en-ciel)
7. Maryann Martinez (CCB-Volkswagen)
8. Sara Cushman (Gear Works-Spin Arts)
9. Susan MacLean (Gear Works-Spin Arts)
10. Stephanie White (Dansko-Wheelworks)