The second to last round of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series did not disappoint Saturday in Warwick, Rhode Island. Coming into the weekend, the battle for the elite titles for both men and women were extremely tight with Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing) and Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott) wearing the jerseys. A better stage could not have been set for the NBX GP of ‘Cross at Goddard Park. Under bright sunlight with temperatures in the forties racers tackled the course which featured a long sand run and lots of elevation change but also long power sections.
From the start of the Elite Womens race, it was clear that this would not be an easily won race for any of the competitors as a group of seven racers formed at the front. The group contained favorites like Laura Van Gilder (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes), Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club/Chaussures/Ogilvy), Sally Annis (Crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles) and Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing). Also in the lead group were Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles), Crystal Anthony (Ladies First Racing) and Nicole Thiemann (Team CF). As the laps ticked by, the torrid pace set by the women at the front caused Thiemann to drop off the pace and eventually dropped Smith and Anthony with two to go. Bresnick-Zocchi put in some hard efforts to push Smith off the back and fell victim to the pace as well.
With one to go, the race was down to three, Laura Van Gilder, Natasha Elliott and Sally Annis. Elliott drove the pace for much of the lap while Van Gilder sat in, clearly looking to take advantage of a sprint finish. At the final turn though, it was Sally Annis who was able to take the sprint ahead of Van Gilder. Smith came across the line fifth, behind Bresnick-Zocchi. Coming off what was clearly the best victory of her career, Annis was able to once again don the series leader’s jersey but her lead is a scant five points going into the series finale on Sunday.
The Elite Men’s race developed in a similar fashion with a big group at the start that was slowly whittled down to an elite group. Jerome Townsend (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott) drove the pace for most of the first lap, carrying his teammate and series leader Justin Lindine. Also making the early selection were Adam Myerson, Derrick St John (Garneau Club/Chaussure/Ogilvy), Christian Favata (Favata’s Tablerock Tours and Bikes), Josh Dillon (Richard Sachs/RGM Watches/Radix), Andrew Wulfkuhle (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) and Manny Goguen (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott).
As Townsend began to fade, Lindine took to the front and drove the pace, hoping to shed Myerson but may have put out too much and overcooked a turn, giving St John and Myerson the opportunity they needed and they shot off the front. Lindine at this point had fallen back to fifth position behind Christian Favata and Manny Goguen. Myerson and St John were both driving the pace with St John doing the lion’s share of the work, putting total effort out of each corner trying to crack Myerson’s resolve. Though he came to the brink, Myerson would not let the gap open; closing it down each time St John entered a corner. Behind, Lindine made it up to the group of Favata and Goguen and upped the pace, dropping Goguen.
On the final lap, Myerson took to the front, driving the pace towards the finish, taking advantage of the weaknesses he’d seen in St John’s riding. Coming on to the finishing straight, Myerson was on the front and was not about to let St John come around. Forty seconds later, Favata and Lindine came onto the pavement neck and neck and Lindine mashed his way to third place. The win was Myerson’s second UCI victory of the season and his career and it brought him to the brink of taking the series lead. Between Lindine and Myerson, whichever of these great racers cross the finish line first on Sunday will take the victory in the Verge NECCS.
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