Strong winds blew off the bay for the final day of racing in the 2014 Verge New England Cyclocross Series presented by Stan’s NoTubes and Cycle-Smart. The NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Warwick, Rhode Island was the stage for the grand finale of the 2014 Series. The race’s signature beach runs numbered two in Sunday’s race, and a soaking rain overnight left sections of rooty trail mud-covered and slick. In addition to dismounts for the stretches of bayside sand, riders faced both log barriers and traditional cyclocross barriers, making this a challenging course deserving of hosting the series finale.
Arley Kemmerer (PB2 Pro Cycling) took the holeshot in the elite women’s race. With fresh legs and a thirst for a win after crashing out of Saturday’s race, Kemmerer led for much of the first long lap. Laurel Rathbun (Raleigh-Clement) and series leader in the overall elite women and U23 categories Ellen Noble (JAM Fund-NCC) held on as long as they could with a huge chase group behind them, including contenders for the final series podium Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles) and Cassie Maximenko (Rare Vos-Van Dessel-PowerBar).
Crystal Anthony (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) bridged from the chase up to the leaders as Rathbun slid back. Repeated charges from Anthony dropped Kemmerer off the group first, and then Noble, and Anthony battled the wind alone and gained a solid advantage. Anthony’s lead grew to 20 seconds at times, making her victory seem certain.
In the final half lap, with Kemmerer breathing down her neck, Noble charged to close the gap. Noble only caught Anthony’s wheel in the final turns of the race and brought Anthony to the line in a sprint.
Judges decided the photo finish in Noble’s favor, a huge win for the rising young star. Taking second was Anthony, while Kemmerer claimed third.
Noble’s win cemented her lead in the Verge NECX Series. Maximenko’s fourth-place finish was enough to edge out Bruno Roy, who finished seventh on Sunday, for the second series podium spot. Bruno Roy ended a stellar New England UCI cyclocross season in third overall.
The final race of the 2014 Verge NECX Series was on course next. The elite men’s race started with the two Series leaders, Dan Timmerman (in the overall leader’s jersey and Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) wearing the U23 jersey, at the helm of the race, with Kerry Werner (Optum), Tim Johnson (Cannondale), Anthony Clark (JAM Fund), Christian Favata (TRT Bicycles), and Jerome Townsend in the mix. Justin Lindine (Redline Factory-NBX) bridged to the leaders and attacked, bringing Werner and White along.
A season of battling for the series lead seemed to have caught up to Timmerman, who was seen stretching out his back in pain as he fell back from the leaders. Lindine, Werner, and White began fighting the wind together to gain time on the chase group of Jeremy Martin (Rocky Mountain Bicycles), Clark, and Favata.
The leaders stuck together until two to go, when White attacked and left the others behind. Werner chased, and finally caught White’s wheel with less than one and a half laps to go. Lindine remained a scant few seconds behind the duo for the final lap. Werner led into the final turns, but White made a deft pass to lead through the rooty section before the sprint. White’s advantage through the rooty turns and onto the final pavement stretch helped him claim a win, with Werner finishing second and Lindine taking third.
Timmerman’s tremendous season culminated in the hard-earned overall elite men’s series win. Curtis White was second overall and held onto the U23 Series lead, and Christian Favata claimed third overall after amazing rides at NBX and Baystate.
Watch all of the Series races at gnarlymonkey.com.