Beautiful weather and a revised courses greeted cyclocross racers and spectators as the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s made it’s first of several trips to Louisville this year for the Tour de Louisville on Sunday. The race which is held annually at Fisherman’s Park rather than the more-frequented Eva Bandman or Champions Parks.
Coming less than a week before the Tour’s big three-day UCI weekend in Cincinnati, race promoter Steven Webster was happy with the turn-out of nearly 300 entries. He was happier still about the rave reviews to the revised course. The park’s hilly terrain has given the race the reputation of an extremely hard climber’s course in the past, something that was addressed this year. “It was less of a death march,” said Webster. “We really paid attention to the flow of the course and recovery zones to make it a more balanced course. Everybody I asked said they loved the new layout.”
One advantage of the new layout was improved viewing, and several hundred spectators were seen watching the races at the picturesque venue throughout the day. Those that stayed to the end saw Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com) and defending Zipp OVCX Tour champion Mitch Kersting (Bob’s Red Mill / Rocky Mountain) put on amazing displays. Knapp, who has been racing at the front of the UCI races he’s competed in this year, averaged over 19 miles-per-hour for the duration of the race on the hilly, and still-difficult, course. Behind him, Kersting had to start in the sixth row after missing the season opener in August. Battling through the pack, Kersting took second just 39 seconds back of Knapp.
Louisville is known for its junior development programs. And Team Red Zone was selling a lot of food to raise money to send its junior riders to this year’s national championships. Junior racer Andrew Dillman gave his Red Zone teammates something to scream about when he toed the line in the Elite Men’s race and promptly destroyed most of the men’s field in the ten lap race to take third behind Knapp and Kersting. It created an interesting scene at the podium as Louisville’s own Bluegrass Brewing Company was awarding six-packs of their award-winning beers to the top three finishers of every senior class, but Dillman was under-age. Needless to say, Dillman’s father had no problem in accepting the award in his behalf.
Another rider with an interesting ride in the Elite Men’s event was Niki Dallaire (Alderfer Bergen). After winning the Elite Women’s race by more than five minutes and nearly lapping the field (only second place Nicole Borem remained on the lead lap), Dallaire immediately rode back to the starting line to for the Elite Men’s race where she finished 24th, only one lap down to winner Ryan Knapp on the relatively short course.
The next races on the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s are this weekend’s trio of races at the Cincinnati UCI3 Festival, followed by the Tour’s first trip to Indiana this year with Bloomingcross in Bloomington on October 17.