On a crisp, fall evening in St. Louis, MO, a collection of top domestic and international cyclocross racers took to a twisting and technical course in Heman Park to contest the third round of the newly minted Cross After Dark series. With top class fields in both the men’s and women’s race, aggressive racing was the word of the day as each field sought a collection of highly coveted early season UCI points. In the end, astute tactical racing brought home a second UCI win for Jeremy Powers in his first season with Rapha-Focus while Teal Stetson-Lee (CalGiant/Specialized) confirmed her status as an emerging powerhouse with a dominating display in the women’s race.
From the start of the men’s race, it was clear that the course, which featured two run ups, a flyover, barriers and constant twists and turns, would favor technical attacking riders. The flat nature of the terrain also played to those with power in reserve. So it would prove as Belgian transplant Ben Berden (Stoemper) lit up the race early on with a bold solo move, breaking the race apart for the rest of the field. Behind him, a chase group of Jonathan Page (Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles), Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com), US National Champion Todd Wells (Specialized) and Powers formed, working seamlessly to reel Berden in two laps later. From there, the group showed remarkable cohesion and distanced the rest of the field, making it a five man race for the win.
By far the most aggressive of the group was Berden, who tried numerous attacks, each one closely marked by Powers, as the group continued to put time into the chase. Forty minutes in to the hour long race, an attack by Page disrupted the group and momentarily gapped Driscoll, who dangled at the back. It wasn’t enough to break up the leaders and Powers put in a surge of his own with two to go, taking the ever present Berden with him. The cat and mouse continued as the fractured group looked as if it was about to regroup with 500m to go until a final push by Powers took him across the line solo with Berden following in second and Page rounding out the podium. Despite his apparent difficulty two thirds of the way through the race, Driscoll took home the fourth place spot while Todd Wells rolled his stars and stripes in for fifth.
The women’s race was virtually a one woman show with Stetson-Lee attacking halfway through the first lap and not looking back until she crossed the line. Seeing that she was smooth on the flowy course, Stetson-Lee made her first move the first time up the fly over, taking over the lead from her teammate Meredith Miller. Then, not happy with having the field on her wheel, Stetson-Lee attacked and was able to get a gap of five seconds at the end of the first lap. Continuing to ride strongly and smoothly, Stetson-Lee increased her gap lap after lap.
Behind her, a chase group tried valiantly to close the gap, but the presence of Miller in the group disrupted a concerted chase. Once Stetson-Lee’s lead had reached insurmountable levels, Miller attacked and quickly carved out a position in second place, which she would hold easily hold to the line. As the remnants of the chase broke apart, Kathy Sherwin (Stan’s NoTubes) took the sprint over Carrie Cash-Wooten (Pedal The Cause) for third with Kelsy Bingham (Roosters/Biker’s Edge) filling out the top five.
Top 10 Women
1. Teal Stetson-Lee (California Giant Berry Farms/ Specialized)
2. Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/ Specialized)
3. Katherine Sherwin (Stan’s NoTubes)
4. Carrie Cash-Wooten (Pedal the Cause)
5. Kelly Bingham (Roosters/Bikers Edge)
6. Sunny Gilbert (Michelob Ultra/ Big Shark)
7. Anna Jean Dallaire (Alderfer Bergen)
8. Ashley James (KCCX/Fuji)
9. Kelly Benjamin (KCCX/Fuji)
10. Linda Sone (CycleSmart.com)
Top 10 Men
1. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus)
2. Ben Berden (Stoemper)
3. Jonathan Page (Planet Bike-Blue Bicycles)
4. James Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com)
5. Todd Wells (Specialized)
6. Bryan Fawley (Orbea USA)
7. Barry Wicks (Kona)
8. Jake Wells (Stan’s NoTubes)
9. Jacob Lasley (Team Soundpony)
10. Tim Allen (Feedback Sports)