It was a question of who made the less mistakes at Day 1 of the 20th annual Cycle-Smart International. Whomever could navigate the course cleanly with its run-up, ride-up, off-camber descents, power sections, technical sections with roots, sandpit, all divided on two levels, would take the win. The number one ranked women in the world, Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes) did just that. Only one small bobble, almost unnoticed, from which she recovered very quickly and cleanly, marred her race.
“I just kept thinking ‘no mistakes, no mistakes’.” Van Gilder said after the race.
Van Gilder took the win in the fifth round of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series presented by Cycle-Smart. “I’m very happy with it and certainly each win is hard-earned and it’s never a cake walk. Last week I went down and had to chase all day. I really enjoyed the course, it had a lot of good flow, it was good.”
In a sign of things to come, two riders tangled up in the start while the field went off fast with series leader into the race Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) getting the holeshot. Behind her the field was stretched out. Van Gilder came to the front to push the pace and a selection was made with Van Gilder and her teammate Arley Kemmerer, Smith, Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles) and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) taking off. But Smith fell back after a bobble and was left chasing for the rest of the race.
Then there were three when Kemmerer fell off the pace with four laps to go. The three riders kept on pushing the pace and then Annis made a mistake which left Van Gilder and Bruno-Roy together off the front with two to go. Another bobble from Bruno-Roy this time and Van Gilder was off solo. The chase was on, Van Gilder kept on riding cleanly while behind her another bobble and Annis got around to take second. Bruno-Roy took third.
With that Annis takes over the lead in the Verge NECCS series. Racing continues on Sunday with day 2 of the Cycle-Smart International on a slightly modified course.
Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes). “I was content if Arley wanted to take the front, I didn’t want to be too far back again because if there was a mistake but I knew that there was going to be a time where people weren’t going to be content with the pace and sure enough Sally wasn’t. And that was fine with me because she’s been riding so strong that, it was a little bit windy in spot I was happy to be sitting on the front all day and get taken advantage of. I’m very happy with it and certainly each win is hard-earned and it’s never a cake walk. Last week I went down and had to chase all day. I really enjoyed the course, it had a lot of good flow, it was good.”
A race of who made the less mistakes? “I could tell that the first lap in the sand when I got a gap and I felt that was a pretty important section as well as the steep hill. Once in the sand my foot came out but fortunately I was in the front and it was clean I was able to continue. I would have to agree that it was a race where you needed to make the less mistakes whether it was slipping on roots, coming out of your pedals or being stuck in traffic.”
What caused all the mistakes? “I think it was the speed, then you add in some roots and some trickiness and the sand, we all know that it only takes one person to go down and if you’re held up it makes a big difference. I just kept thinking ‘no mistakes, no mistakes’. Again, enough power to pour it on in the end, I didn’t feel I needed a huge gap to win, I just needed to make sure I didn’t make a mistake.”
Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles). “We kind of stuck together in that front, there were a few bobbles here or there in the sandpit, on the steep runup I missed a pass and ended up crashing and had to chase back on. So it was little bumbles here and there and one of those Laura took advantage of to open a gap and I just couldn’t close it down.”
Did she think she could catch Van Gilder? “Maybe another lap or two but Laura is super-strong. If she would have known I was getting close, she would have put on the gas and would probably would have been gone. She’s a super-strong rider but I was hoping to catch her.”
About the course. “A little different this year, still super-fun, a great course, Adam does a great job with this race. This is one of my favorite races in New England.”
A case of who made the less bobbles? “Pretty much, it was kind of the right spot at the right time, if you got stuck behind a bobble, you had a gap you had to close, Laura rode clean the whole time and she won, the rest of us were fumbling behind her.”
Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles). “It was the first day I won my long-sleeves since Gloucester so it was good, the air felt a lot better, I felt pretty good. We were going pretty steady pace, no matter who was at the front and we kept that pace, it was a race of mistakes. There was a steep little ride up, Sally and I both bobbled it and then we both caught back and then Arley must have bobbled it and then she pulled off. Sally had a little crash, she was trying to come in inside on me and I didn’t see her until it was too late, I was holding my line so she ended crashing a little.”
About the last laps. “Sally made a mistake and then she had to chase back on and I was with Laura and we had a gap, then I made a bobble and Laura got away. Just little mistakes and that last lap, we were five seconds from each other and you could see the person in front of you but you’re always thinking ‘don’t go so crazy that you suddenly crash’ so you tend to be a little tentative in that last lap sometimes in the technical sections so you don’t lose where you are. I was hoping I could catch Sally in the end and not have to sprint her or anything but sometimes you hold back a little bit.”
About the course. “This course is always this way. The section that must of you can see [lower section] is flat, powerful, grassy, nice and tacky, good traction and then the top section has a ton of roots and a little bit of loose rocks and one run-up hill and one ride-up and it’s that same loose gravelly stuff so it’s almost like you have two different courses. Up the top is where nobody can see what mistakes are happening and you get down the hill and they say ‘where’s so and so? what happened up there?’, and it’s just where there’s more technical stuff. The tire and pressure choice has to be for the majority of the course which is this [lower section] so I found that I’m running high pressure so that I have a nice smooth ride here but I was skidding out climbing up the hill so those are the choices you make.” (laughs)
Top 10 Elite Women Results
1. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
2. Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles)
3. Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles)
4. Arley Kemmerer (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
5. Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing)
6. Christina Tamilio (LadiesFirst Racing)
7. Carolyn Popovic (PAValleys.com)
8. Lara Kroepsch (Hudz Subaru)
9. Ann D’Ambruoso (LadiesFirst Racing)
10. Linnea Koons (Embrocation Cycling Journal)