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Cyclocross

Knapp, Wells slog to GP wins in Jersey

In cyclo-cross, the combination of a flat course and wet ground means only one thing: a hard muddy slog. With its sapping mud pits, Sunday’s final round of the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross, run on the shores of the Raritan River in Highland Park, New Jersey, may have provided the best course preview for December’s national championships in Portland, Oregon. And if that’s the case, race winners Ann Knapp (Kona) and Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai) will lick their chops if the Portland race serves its expected helping of leg-breaking slop. While the Highland Park course offered little

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Knapp and Trebon take series titles

By Chris Milliman, Special to VeloNews.com

Photo: Chris Milliman

In cyclo-cross, the combination of a flat course and wet ground means only one thing: a hard muddy slog. With its sapping mud pits, Sunday’s final round of the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross, run on the shores of the Raritan River in Highland Park, New Jersey, may have provided the best course preview for December’s national championships in Portland, Oregon. And if that’s the case, race winners Ann Knapp (Kona) and Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai) will lick their chops if the Portland race serves its expected helping of leg-breaking slop.

While the Highland Park course offered little in the way of elevation change, the sticky conditions and two slippery run-ups proved more than enough to separate the contenders from the also-rans in both the elite men’s and women’s events. With a four-race winning streak in hand, and the overall USGP title all but sewn up, Knapp seemed the obvious favorite, and the former national champion rode up to expectations. Knapp was joined by regular breakaway compatriots Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) and Gina Hall (Missing Link), forming a lead trio on the second half of the opening lap. While Hall looked good on the smoother power sections and McConneloug negotiated the mudpits with aplomb, Knapp attacked the run-ups every lap, opening small, but painful, gaps every time.

“You always think long legs are advantageous to running, but I don’t think so,” said Hall referring to Knapp’s powerful, choppy running style. “She and Mary are both really quick runners, really good.”

As the laps wound down, Knapp accelerated up the longer of the two run-ups and Hall faltered as leg cramps slowed her stride. McConneloug, caught behind Hall, could do nothing but watch Knapp attack and get clear on a course where a solo rider could work an advantage.

“Gina was in between us and Ann got a little gap and attacked at the bottom on the run-up,” said McConneloug.” I was just shot of the back. I wanted to catch Ann, but it didn’t happen.”

As Hall legs cramps got worse she fell behind McConneloug and let Knapp ride free for a solo win, her fifth of the six-race series, and more than enough to earn her the overall title.

“I was thinking the course suited Gina today, but her legs were cramping really bad, so that slowed her down,” said Knapp of the afternoon’s racing. According to Knapp, winning the series and the subsequent automatic berth to world championships, will provide more than enough incentive for the 36-year-old to keep the foot on the pedal for the next several months of what she claims will be her final ‘cross season.

Wells ruled the day

Wells ruled the day

Photo: Chris Milliman

“Finally,” said Wells, as he toweled off after his first significant ‘cross win of the season. “It seems like I’ve raced 50 of these races this year and this is the first real one I’ve won.”

Wells outrode an on-form Ryan Trebon (Kona) en route to a solo win in the elite men’s race. Trebon’s second-place finish and a mid-race collapse by series leader Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Giant) was enough to propel the Kona rider into top spot for the overall series points. But it wasn’t easy.

With Wells setting a furious pace, and gapping him on the run-ups and mud pits, Trebon admitted that fatigue and pressure forced him to go deep into his reserves to keep within shouting distance of the GT-Hyundai rider.

“I had nothing today,” said Trebon after the race, “I rode pretty hard yesterday and I think it took it out of me. I was giving it everything to stay up there.”

Seemingly at ease in the cloying mud pits that sent riders and their bikes in unexpected directions, Wells rode with a combination of power and dexterity while Trebon had only guts.

“I’m usually pretty good on the transitions and I felt like Trebon had more power than I did, but I was able to pick better lines,” said Wellsd. “I was able to get gaps through the muddy sections with the better lines.”

For Trebon, winning the overall series seemed a long shot when he started the season with inauspicious results at the USGP openers on the Northwest. But win a win and second-place in Massachusetts, and some storming results in between, opened the door for the 25-year-old to go after the overall. “I started out in Portland and Tacoma and I was sucking, and I thought there was no way I was going to catch up,” said Trebon. “Then the form just kind of came around. I’m really happy.”

Elite Men
1. Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai)
2. Ryan Trebon (Kona)
3. Barry Wicks (Kona)
4. Mark McCormack (Clif Bar – Colavita)
5. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Sierra Nevada)
6. Adam Craig (Maxxis Giant)
7. Marc Gullickson (Redline)
8. Geoff Kabush (Maxxis Giant)
9. Jesse Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com)
10. Ben Turner (TIAA-Cref/Clif Bar)Elite Women
Ann Knapp (Kona) 43:12
2. Mary McConneloug (Seven Cycles) 0:41
3. Gina Hall (Missing Link) 1:07
4. Rhonda Mazza (Vanilla S&M) 1:50
5. Barbara Howe (Velo Bella) 1:50
6. Josie Beggs (Starbucks Diouble Shot) 2:04
7. Megan Monroe (Lemond) 2:24
8. Anna Milkowski (Rona) 2:36
9. Maureen Bruno Roy (Dansko Wheelworks) 3:00
10. Sara Kerlin (Velo Bella) 3:34

Final overall standings
Men
1. Trebon 197 Points
2. Kabush 194
3. Craig 153
4. Wells 148
5. Gullickson 143
6. Mccormack 133
7. Wicks 130
8. Jacques-Maynes 87
9. Jacques-Maynes 73
10. Tonkin 63
11. Pontoni 62
12. Decker 60
13. Stewart 55
14. Sundt 53
15. Turner 45
16. Robinson 31
17. Broderick 27
18. Johnson 24
19. Dwight 22
20. Prenzlow 21Women
1. Knapp 250
2. Hall 198
3. Mazza 147
4. Mcconneloug 146
5. Howe 143
6. Beggs 116
7. Kerlin 111
8. Milkowski 84
9. Thomas 76
10. Vardaros 62
11. Bruno-Roy 57
12. Simms 52
13. Monroe 51
14. Baumhefner 49
15. Robinson 43
16. Metzer 33
17. Daniels 28
18. Berg 18
19. Much 18
20. Spies 16

Knapp was solid all season

Knapp was solid all season

Photo: Chris Milliman

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