Haymarket Bicyles-SEAVS continued its domination of the top podium spot at BikeReg.com MABRAcross series races with several victories at Saturday’s All Hallows Cross. Race organizer Pax Velo offered Mid-Atlantic cyclocross racers a challenging course, and mother nature pitched in with a perfect day. In its second year, All Hallows Cross featured several course changes that resulted in raves from those in attendance. Highlights from last year’s race, the ride through the barn and the single track remained. These elements were complemented by two long twisty horse ring sand pits and a reworked front section that offered new opportunities for technical riders as well as those able to produce the big watts.
The men’s elite race was a clinic in teamwork. Verge Sport MABRAcross points leader Jared Nieters (Haymarket Bicycles-SEAVS) and his teammate, multiple MABRAcross winner Joe Dombrowski, were clear favorites in the starting grid.
Nieters, for the second week in a row, went down hard in the first minute of the race and found himself chasing the leaders from the gun. Dombrowski, fully aware of Nieters’ plight went to the front and played the good teammate. He sat on wheels for part of the course and went to the front to slow down the pace at others. This tactic gave Nieters the time he needed to catch the leading group of five by the third lap of the race. As soon as Dombrowski saw that Nieters had established contact is was game on. The Haymarket pair rode away from the group and opened up a sizable gap in short order.
Nieters seemed perfectly content to let his teammate ride at the front for the remaining laps. Despite the crowd urging for the pair to sprint out the finish, Dombrowski powered through the final sand pit and took the win easily over Nieters who did not contest the finale.
Patrick Blair (Adventures for the Cure) put in a great ride to finish third on the day. Ryan McKinney (Clean Currents) finished fourth and Andrew Welch (Squadra Coppi) rounded out the podium in fifth.
In the women’s elite race, Patty Buerkle (Haymarket Bicycles-SEAVS) successfully defended her Verge Sport leader jersey, outsprinting Julie “Cool” Kuliecza (ALAN) for the win. Elizabeth Harlow (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) finished third with Allyson Tufano (NVRC) and Lindsey Hillesheim (Squadra Coppi) completing the podium.
The master’s elite field offered spectators the most exciting race of the day. The field stayed largely intact for a good portion of the day with a group of 20 riders in the lead pack for the first half of the race. That group shrank to ten riders as the lap cards started counting down.
The leader of the race continually changed as different members of the ten man group took their shot at getting away. The only constant was the man sitting second wheel. Mike Birner (Ben’s Performance Bikes) put together a tactically flawless race.
No matter who took the lead in the race, Birner was always second. In fact, he only led the race for about a tenth of a second or so, but that tenth of a second came as he crossed the finish line, and that’s all that counts.
Joe Lillibridge (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) took advantage of some confusion in the sand pit on the final lap and snuck by both Birner and Evan Ellicott (Bike Doctor) heading out of the horse ring and a turn away from the finish. At the time, it looked like a winning move, but Birner was able to open it up on the final stretch and pip Lillibridge at the line. Ellicott hung on for third followed by Brent Williamson (Rostello) and Ron Huebner (Evolution).
The BikeReg.com MABRAcross series stays in southern Maryland for Tacchino Ciclocross, which takes place November 7 at Rosaryville State Park.