Under clear blue skies, Local boy Jeremy Powers of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com did his family and friends proud, taking the win at 19th annual Cycle-Smart International in Northampton MA, the 9th round of the Verge NECCS. Powers attacked the other rider in the lead group, his teammate Jamey Driscoll, in the final hundred meters to savor the sweet taste of success. Series leader Dan Timmerman (Richard Sachs/RGM/Radix) finished third. (See lots more photos in the gallery)
“I want to thank everybody that came out to support me, everyone that is here to do stuff for the race, all the friends and my family that came out, this means a lot for me, this is definitely high on the list of races that I want to do well. ” said Powers after the win.
Hard and fast. Chaos reigned immediately where only 100 meters from the start a broken chain caused a massive pile-up, taking down several riders, forcing other off the bikes to the pit or to recover for Sunday’s race. In front of the mess, Powers had another of his fast start as he hit the steep runup first with his teammate Driscoll catching up to him. As everyone expected, the duo hit it hard and fast to establish a gap the field. Quickly only a few riders were hanging on with Nick Weighall (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) being the last rider to keep up with the lead group.
“It was actually really hard at the start, I was surprised at how fast these guys were going, it’s such a fast course and then Jamey and I had to push the band out and eventually when we popped those guys, we got a little bit of a gap.” said Powers. “I crashed in the top section and Jamey got a little bit of a gap, it was good because then I made Nick Weighall work a bit and then I jumped him and got back up to Jamey. So that was how we got our gap and we just kept extending that.”
Behind the lead group, the chase was one from Timmerman who had a slow start. Also chasing was Adam Craig (Giant MTB Team) who started picking riders up as he moved up from his last row start.
“I got a little bit of a slow start, it was mayhem right off the bat. Of course, you come into the sandpit a little far back and you get clogged up. I didn’t have a horrible start but it wasn’t the best. I had hoped to get to those guys before they teamed up and took off but I just quite couldn’t get there.” said Timmerman.
Timmerman almost made the junction to the trio at the front but not quite, as with six laps to go, the dynamic duo was off the front.
“It was those two and Nick Weighall, they had just gapped him off when I caught him so when I got around him they had already established a little bit of a gap.” explained Timmerman.
Timmerman kept a gap of around 5 to 10 seconds for two laps until the elastic snapped.
“The primary goal was to separate ourselves from those guys and sort it out. It’s such a fast course that those guys are really good pedalers so it was definitely a challenge, we had to work hard to establish the gap and even harder to finally snap the elastic especially on Timmerman. ” said Driscoll. “I know how fast he is. It was a lot harder for him, we were working together and still it took two or three laps to get a decent gap on him, so I’m very impressed with his ride.”
“At first, I was, oh crap, I don’t want to get into that kind of race, we’d have to sacrifice each other if we get in a race like that,” said Powers about the risk of having Timmerman catch them, “and I know he’s good on a course like so fast so we just kept moving.”
At that point, Timmerman was thinking “don’t give up, don’t give up, five seconds is a pretty small gap.” It was a mental and physical battle, “by just one hard effort left I could have made it but I didn’t quite have it.”
Game on. Powers and Driscoll continued to work together to increase the gap to Timmerman as the lap cards kept being flipped.
“We could see each where we were riding better on parts of the course so we were like ‘dude do outside here, inside there, easy through here’ so we were just working together. It was one half he was doing better, and then the other half I was, it was totally random and that’s why you’d see me on the front all through the back.” said Powers.
For Driscoll, it was about going hard and staying focused. “Up in the woods, there are some roots and rocks, it’s hard, when you’re going hard, to think about making sure not to hit any of that stuff because it will definitely be a bigger penalty in the end to hit that and get a flat. Going really hard, that’s the name of the game for cross.”
With two laps to go, the games were on. “We’re always racing our brains out.” said Powers. “Today was the kind of day where we were looking at each other, we were digging at each other with two laps to go. Jamey and I have a pretty good relationship, we know when each other is on the rivet.”
The duo matched each other, lap after lap until the final meters when Powers made his move. “I just hit him one time at the end, I think he was just like ‘blaahh’.”
“Powers, he’s pretty tough to beat in the last half of a lap unless he falls off his bike which doesn’t happen very often.” said a deadpan Driscoll.
Timmerman was able to hold on to third, thirty seconds back, and retain his series leader’s jersey. Craig looked like he was going to be able to bring himself to the leaders but with two to go, he dropped his chain and lost several spots but fought back for 5th place in his return to racing in New England.
The U-23 race came down to a two-up sprint as Jerome Townsend and series leader Luke Keough (Team Champion System) battled together for most of the race. Townsend took the victory but Keough kept the series lead.
The Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series continues on Sunday with day two of the Cycle-Smart International. Powers will not be racing as he is leading a charity ride in Connecticut, but Driscoll is ready to fly solo.
“I’ll have to fend off these guys all by myself, we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully it will be alright, it will be pretty similar conditions, cool, really dry and really fast.” said Driscoll.
Timmerman is ready for it. “I’m going to approach it the same way, Jamey is enough of a threat himself so I’m just going to do my best to make it a race and not let Jamey run away with it.”
Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) took the win in the Elite women’s race took advantage of an earlier bobble by Natasha Elliott (Garneau/Club Chaussure) to take the win. Laura Van Gilder (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) was third.
“This was a great course, it was really dynamic, little sections that were always something to look forwards to and focus on. There were a lot of power sections, flat and open and that’s where I focused on standing up in the corners and putting down some power except for the last lap, I was like ‘I’m tired, when is this going to be over?'” said a laughing McConneloug. “And then I heard that bell and ‘sweet, here I go’. I think she was pretty much right there the whole time, I could not afford to make any mistakes, it was really cool to be here, the guys put on a great race.”
Fast start, slow start. The start was a bit tricky as the riders were reverse direction for a prologue loop before hitting the regular course.
“We weren’t very sure where it was going, ” explained series leader Maureen Bruno-Roy (MM Racing), “it was funny we come of the start and everybody is riding together and then I hear Mary say ‘left’ to the girl that she was riding with. We were all kind of looking, it’s a little bit confusing because it was a reverse start for the prologue lap and everybody was telling each other which was to turn. I don’t think it was until we came back that everybody settled in and we knew where we were going.”
Once everyone was settled in, McConneloug and Elliott separated themselves on the first lap.
“The first technical section where there was going to be a selection made was the sandpit and I knew that I needed to be out front if I wanted to get away or not get trapped and sure enough there were a few bobbles behind me but Natasha was right there.” explained McConneloug.
Behind the duo, a chase group consisting of Bruno-Roy, Laura Van Gilder (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes), Minuteman Road Club racers Andrea Smith and Anna Barensfeld as well as Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (pedalpowercoaching.com/Landry’s Bicycles) was formed. But quickly the chase group dwindled down to three, Van Gilder, Bruno-Roy and Smith.
“I didnt have a great today and to not have a great start against Mary specifically after racing against her last weekend I knew wasn’t a good thing but I was just hopeful that I could rally, and I was really happy to stay with Mo and Andrea to continue on.” said Van Gilder.
McConneloug and Elliott worked and watched each other, extending their lead to the chasers.
“She’s a very powerful road rider so I knew that the flat windy sections it was going to be important to either be with her riding in her draft or working together. I was noticing that in the woods I was a little smoother in the tight turns and kind of waiting for her in front of me and I was ‘okay, it’s the two of us now let’s just see’, I just knew that I was going to stay with her for the first lap and I rode with her, watched her styles.” said McConneloug.
And then Elliott bobbled in the sand.
“I went into the sand a little wider, and I lost my balance coming out of the first half of it so I had to run in the second half and I didn’t recover too well from it, I made it longer than it should have been so I lost 10 seconds and I just could never make it back up. ” said Elliott.
“The sandpit came around again and I went in front and I pinned it, I got through super smooth, I got a really fast turn on the hardpack, pedaled a few strokes and went, ” said McConneloug, “and then I hear the announced saying that she was down, she had a foot down and I didn’t hear her or feel her back there so I just pinned it and attacked and got a small gap and held it. ”
That was enough for McConneloug to go to the front and keep her gap.
Meanwhile behind, the chase group was down to two riders, Van Gilder and Bruno-Roy.
“I was feeling a little flat today, my legs were not really sharp. With all the pedaling, you’re expanding a lot of energy and I definitely didn’t feel as sharp as I wanted to. When Laura caught with me, I thought maybe I’ll sit on her and recover and then I realized I wasn’t actually recovering sitting on her wheel, I was hanging on to her wheel too and I thought maybe if I sit here for awhile but then I had a crash in the sand and I had to switch bikes.” said Bruno-Roy. “So it ended up I wasn’t able to catch her so I got fourth which is okay considering I didn’t feel great.”
Van Gilder was pleased with her race. “I’m happy, there’s been a big jump in the competition this year and although I think I’ve improved there’s a lot more people at my level so maybe I’m not having the results that I’d hoped but I do fell that the improvement is giving me confidence so I’m happy with that.”
Tomorrow? Very simple for a disappointed Elliott. “Tomorrow I want to win.”
For Bruno-Roy, the focus is also on recovery with an eye to the coming USGP race in New Jersey next weekend. “Recovery, get ready for tomorrow and then next week is a really big race, the USG in New Jersey. I’m a little bit nervous about that, a really good field, I really trained hard coming into this race so I can recover for that one so sometimes you have to sacrifice the race before the big one I think.”
Of note, in a bizarre accident at the end of the Masters race, UCI Official Harry Lam was seriously injured. While details are not readily available, he was admitted to a regional hospital. A collection will be opened to help his family during his recovery. Details on his condition and the collection will be forthcoming.
Top 10 Elite Women
1. Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven-No Tubes)
2. Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club Chaussure Ogilvy)
3. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
4. Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing p/b Seven Cycles)
5. Anna Barensfeld (Minuteman Road Club)
6. Andrea Smith (Minuteman Road Club)
7. Anna Milkowski (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/IF)
8. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (Pedalpowercoaching.com/Landry’s Bicycles)
9. Rebecca Wellons (Team Plan C)
10. Ann D’Ambruoso (Minuteman Road Club)
Top 10 Elite Men
1. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
2. Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
3. Dan Timmerman (RICHARD SACHS – RGM WATCHES – RADIX)
4. Nicholas Weighall (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized)
5. Adam Craig (Gaint MTB Team)
6. Derrick St John (Garneau Club Chaussure Ogilvy)
7. William Dugan (RICHARD SACHS – RGM WATCHES – RADIX)
8. Jerome Townsend (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage/IF)
9. Luke Keough (Team Champion Systems)
10. Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart)
Complete results here