The C3 Athletes Serving Athletes trio did it again at stop #8 of the Champion System MAC Series, the Highland Park Cyclocross. Laura Van Gilder, DeeDee Winfield and Arley Kemmerer hit the gas from the gun, creating a separation on the first lap with only Kristin Gavin (Team CF) able to catch on the train. With Winfield and Van Gilder taking turns at the front, the gap grew and the pace was high, so high that both Gavin and Kemmerer fell off the pace in turns leaving two at the front.
“Eventually it was just the two of us and typical to form we raced for the win. So then it’s us against each other and again, we were each trying to push each other’s weaknesses and showcase our strengths.” Van Gilder said.
The duel was on between friends and teammates, each knowing where to hit to cause the most damage but the duo was sticking together. With one lap to go, Van Gilder was at the front until Winfield timed her attack to pass on one of the many kickers on the course, she knew she had to try and drop Van Gilder and her fast finishing kick. But Van Gilder was on wheel and they came together to drag race to the finish line with Van Gilder taking the uphill sprint.
How hard did they go? Winfield collapsed after the finish line to catch her breath.
Behind them, Kemmerer kept it steady for take third, delivering another sweep for the C3 team. Gavin was engaged in another battle trying to hold a surging Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com) which she did.
Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes). “I think DeeDee was taking over where she felt confident and strong and I was taking over where I felt I could push the pace so that we could continue to have a gap. Eventually it was just the two of us and typical to form we raced for the win. So then it’s us against each other and again, we were each trying to push each other’s weaknesses and showcase our strengths.”
Knowing each other’s weaknesses as teammates. “We do especially because we started racing cross against each other as competitors the first year and we became fast friends because we were always duking it out. This has been a really strong team all year, we have great support from the whole team which makes what we do a lot easier, we’re really proud to represent such a good Mid-Atlantic team and we represent it on the national level. Yesterday DeeDee got the win and today I got the win. It’s great to be leading the MAC Series with both of us being in contention and of course for the team to be in the lead.”
About a fight to the finish. “It always is. It just makes us stronger when we go compete against other girls. You see it on the men’s side as well with the top men, they’re not going to chase each other down necessarily but when they can race for the win, they do and it elevates their level.”
About the final lap. “She passed me the section before the barriers and she just stayed in the lead and at that point where I was going to make my mark. You know there’s quite a bit of elevation gain on this course all the way from the parking lot to the finish so with the wind, with the climbing it seemed like a good idea to wait until the end.”
DeeDee Winfield (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes). “I feel great, I’m very pleased and my legs actually felt better today so that’s a good thing.”
About trying to drop Van Gilder. “You always try because I knew I didn’t want it to come down to that. I tried to do what I can but it’s always great racing with her because it’s hard and of course I said that yesterday, it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s always hard and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. There’s a couple of times where gaps would form and I would pull it back and vice versa so I did what I could.”
Were they trying to drop Gavin? “You’re just riding to your max, you’re not trying to drop anyone specifically, you’re just trying to get away so it doesn’t matter who is behind, you just want to be first. It wasn’t that we were, as a team, trying to work against anyone, you’re just trying to ride your ride.”
About the course. “Very different [than Saturday's course]. A lot more climbing, the turns weren’t flowing like yesterday, the course was definitely not as fast, it’s sort of an attrition course because there is so much climbing and then some of the off-camber is a little tricky, it makes it fun.”
Arley Kemmerer (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes). “Typically my goal in these races lately has been to just stay with those two because they win bike races. In every race I’m able to stay with them a little bit longer and that’s exactly what I’m aiming for at this point, eventually to the point where I can start to mix it up a little bit with them. I was feeling good today. I’ve been having some major shifting issues, shifting into my big ring. I guess it’s because of the chain ring size, the way the chain rings are. We’ve been working on it for a couple of days and yesterday I thought I had it dialed in and then today, on the sweeping descent by the road, I went to shift into the big ring and I threw my chain over and down my crank. I knew it didn’t shift right but I didn’t know what happened so I shifted down into the little ring and when I looked down I saw my chain snap off my crank and then back down into the chain ring and I was like ‘wow that was really close, that would have been bad.’ And with those two you can’t miss a beat so I tried to be able to get back up and put in an acceleration in but there are so many turns on the course, it’s really hard to make up just five seconds, three seconds even.”
Concerned about Gavin chasing? “No, I’m pretty sure her goals are the same as mine, which is hang to those two on as long as we can. I hear her and I could hear her breathing a little bit heavier every lap and then when we came up the hill, I didn’t hear her anymore and I thought that probably did it because these little hills are tough and we were going at a pretty good clip and they were starting to duke it out even more so I knew the pace was going to get even faster. So when we lost Kristin on the hill I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to end up coming back but I still wanted to ride as hard as I could just to keep the time deficit between us just to test myself and to make sure nobody else came from behind.”
Satisfied about her weekend? “Very satisfied. Last year they used to beat me by a minute, two years ago two minutes. I have a new coach and that’s made a huge, huge difference. Definitely dialing in all the weaknesses that I felt I had last year and just getting my power up and it’s making a huge difference because I just joked with Laura ‘that was the longest I’ve ever stared at your ass in a bike race’ (laughs) It’s true, usually it’s from a distance and this time it was right there.”
Kristin Gavin (Team Cystic Fibrosis). “I was saying the force was not with me, at some point the force blew my back off. It’s great. Those ladies are the best ladies to race with I think in the area and I feel honored to sit in there. But you know fourth place is a tough place to be, yo-yoing off the back and I was jockeying a little bit with Arley, trying to get out of that fourth position but she played it really well and at some point, I just popped off.”
What goes through her mind when battling with C3 trio? “The thing that goes through my mind is just to ride with composure with the crème de la crème of cyclists in the area potentially, obviously in the world. Settle in with my composure. IN the bottom of my heart I believe that I belong there, you have to believe that you belong there so it’s just a matter of fine-tuning what I have to hold on.”
Did she think she could catch Kemmerer? “I didn’t know, I didn’t know how badly she had popped. I had popped pretty bad but I was giving it everything, you don’t know unless you try. So I’d get out of my saddle everywhere I had it in me but she’s a fighter too.”
Satisfied with her weekend? “I’m happy with it, I was hoping to be top 3 both days but that’s a beauty of bike racing and there’s always another one next weekend.”
Top 10 Elite Women Results
1. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
2. Deidre Winfield (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
3. Arley Kemmerer (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
4. Kristin Gavin (Team Cystic Fibrosis)
5. Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com)
6. Patty Buerkle (Haymarket / SEAVS)
7. Nicole Thiemann (Team CF)
8. Emily Thurston (Missing Link/ 3rd Rail)
9. Jennifer Maxwell (Van Dessel Factory Team p/b Sterke Meiden)
10. Katrina Dowidchuk (Team TBB/Deep Blue)