The Beatles could have provided the soundtrack for MAC’s Beacon Cyclocross today. Seattle’s Nick Weighall (California Giant Strawberries – Specialized) outdueled Mike Broderick to win the UCI Elite Men’s division on the long and winding roads through the woods of Bridgeton New Jersey’s Central Park. Meanwhile, Mary McConneloug might well have been singing “You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye”.
McConneloug and Broderick (KENDA-Seven-NoTubes) were once regulars on the MAC circuit, but this was there first visit since 2004. It gave lots of people a chance to say “hello”. But once the Elite women’s race started, it was simply a case of “goodbye” as McConneloug went to the front and rode away. It was a stacked Women’s field, with defending MAC champion Laura Van Gilder and perennial front runner DeeDee Winfield of C3 Athletes Serving Athletes, 2008 MAC champion Mo Bruno-Roy (MM Racing presented by Seven Cycles) and proven race winners Arley Kemmerer (Hub Racing), Jennifer Maxwell (ATAC Sportwear present by The Bike Rack) and Carolyn Popovic (guest riding for the promoting Beacon-Cape Atlantic club), among others. “This is a fast and smooth race course, which I love,” said McConneloug afterward. “But I knew I had to pin it from the start.” Pin it she did, winning by over a minute. Behind her, the race looked more like an Australian Pursuit, with Bruno-Roy and Van Gilder time-trialing to second and third place, respectively.
As happy as she was with her first cyclocross victory of the season, it paled in comparison to the excitement McConneloug exhibited as her husband, mechanic, manager and teammate Broderick dueled with Weighall for his first win of any sort in a number of years. Unlike the women’s race, the men stayed together for several laps before the first selection was made when Swiss rider Valentin Scherz (Pro Cycles-Scott- Newwork) crashed. The early morning misty rain compacted the sandy soil of the park’s network of single-lane roads, making for perhaps the fastest conditions ever for the annual race. Riders found themselves in pacelines on the winding roads. Weighall, frustrated with the lack of effort by some in the large lead group, attacked. Broderick went with him and the two worked together to establish a gap that proved insurmountable. Though working together just enough to maintain their lead of the chase group, the two still were able to engage in one of the most intriguing duels of the year, especially in the area surrounding the venue’s signature obstacle: the two-story high “Amphitheater of Pain” run-up.
Like McConneloug, Broderick was using a tubeless set-up based on Stan’s No-Tubes 29er wheels and Kenda clincher tires, and was able to consistently pass Weighall on the sketchy outside line on the approach to the amphitheater run-up, and then hold it on the short, twisty woods section leading into the final turn leading onto the long, paved, uphill finish straight. This final turn started with a short, steep dirt drop through deeper sand before transitioning onto asphalt as it bent 180 degrees onto the finish straight. It was here that the Weighall – Broderick duel was at its most spectacular. On the fourth lap, Broderick took a wide approach, stuck his leg out, heaved his bike to the side and rocketed away from Weighall. This happened several more laps, before Weighall decided he’d had enough and duplicated the line. For the next three laps, the two riders rocketed and raced through this corner legs out and bike hung way over like speedway motorcycle racers.
With little more than two laps to go, Weighall was able to take the line away from Broderick on the amphitheater approach. “I have short legs, and he was able to run away from me up the steps,” said Broderick afterward. Weighall, realizing that Broderick suddenly wasn’t next to him, literally ran away from Broderick who was never again able to make contact.
Behind them, the battle for third came down to a sprint with Battley Davidson’s Ryan Dewald holding off Cycle Smart’s Adam Myerson for the third step on the podium after a race-long battle that also included Jonny Sundt and Adam McGrath.
It was a day for confirmed mudders at the MAC Cat and Kitten Cross presented by HPCX in New Jersey on Sunday. Former MAC champion Bruno-Roy outdistanced two-time Olympian McConneloug in the Women’s race. Meanwhile, Swiss rider Scherz took his first MAC win.
With a name like Valentin, Scherz was an appropriate winner of an event that doubled as the wedding reception for Sundt and Elite racer Mandy Lozano . The lightweight rider loves muddy conditions and thrived in the sticky mud on Jameburg, New Jersey’s Thompson Park. He was followed to the line by BikeReg.com’s Justin Lindine, who also scored his best-ever MAC finish. Yesterday’s Beacon Cross winner Weighall finished fourth behind Myerson.
The women’s race was a spread-out affair with Bruno-Roy finishing 47 seconds ahead of McConneloug. C3-Athletes serving Athletes teammates Winfield and Van Gilder finished in third and fourth, respectively.
The MAC Series moves to the Northeast corner of Maryland next Saturday, November 7, for the Wayne Scott Memorial Xross at Fair Hill.For more information, see BikeReg.com.
Complete results (will be) here
Report by Ken Getchell, SpectaSport LLC