After last weekend’s resounding success of the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester, New England’s Cyclocross Holy Week wraps up this weekend with the Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike. The event is part of both of the prestigious series in New England. For the professionals, Providence is rounds three and four of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge; for the amateurs, it’s the sixth and seventh rounds of the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series.
This year’s edition of the Providence Cyclocross Festival is gearing up to be one of the premier events of the season, in New England or otherwise. In addition to a UCI Category 1 race on Saturday and a Category 2 race on Sunday, Providence boasts a number of great events, including the annual Providence Cyclocross Festival expo, which will be bigger than ever, as well as new happenings – the Friday night Builder’s Ball, a weekend-long VeloSwap and a Saturday night concert featuring Fairhaven thanks to our new partners at WBRU.
During the day on Friday, at Roger Williams Park, the Providence Cyclocross Festival hosts its annual expo. The expo gives regular people the experience of Interbike – the ability to meet and talk to representatives from their favorite brands, check out new products and offer feedback, all the while in the scenic surroundings of Roger Williams Park. Friday night, action shifts to the Biltmore Hotel, in the heart of Providence’s historic waterfront for the Builder’s Ball. The Builder’s Ball commemorates the convergence of the New England Bike-Walk Summit and the Providence Cyclocross Festival. The Ball, on Friday night, is a showcase of New England’s storied heritage of bicycle construction. The Builder’s Ball is free and open to the public.
On Saturday, the action shifts back to Roger Williams Park where the Providence Cyclocross Festival’s expo will continue, now expanded to include the constructers from the Builder’s Ball as well as the new-for-2011 VeloSwap. After the racing finishes on Saturday, our partners at WBRU present a free concert featuring local favorites Fairhaven. But the marquee is taken by one of the best weekends of racing in the country carrying a prize purse of over $20,000.
Saturday’s UCI Category 1 race and Sunday’s Category 2 race feature some of the biggest names in North American Cyclocross. Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage) is looking for his first UCI victory of the season. A master tactician, he’s been the top American at most of the races he’s entered this year and is hoping to get back to the top of the podium. Challenging him include Luke Keough (Champion Systems p/b Keough Cyclocross), who, as a second-year U23 last year, won three Verge Series elite races, Dylan McNicholas (cyclocrossworld.com), who has a reputation as one of the fastest starters in the country, Adam Myerson, winner of the Verge Series last year and Jeremy Durrin (JAM Fund/NCC), who has been on the edge of a breakout performance. Canadian Craig Richey (Renner Custom Cyclocross) has spent his season in New England thus far and will be looking to impress. His countryman Derrick St John (Stevens p/b The Cyclery) has long been an impressive racer in New England and he chose Providence to mark his return to the States. Fellow Canadian Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada) has his sights set on victory as well.
The Women’s race is headlined by the renewed rivalry between Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) and Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles). These two women traded leadership of the Verge Series last year with Smith taking the victory on the final day. Smith is coming off an extremely impressive weekend in Gloucester including the best result of her career – second place in a Category 1 race behind none other than the British Champion, Helen Wyman. While Smith enters the weekend as the favorite, Annis has been quietly been building towards a strong second half of the season. Joining Annis and Smith is the ever-present Sara Bresnick (Embrocation Cycling Journal). Bresnick is a regular feature on UCI podiums and is on the cusp of victory – could Providence be her time? We also get to give a full-throated welcome back to Mary McConnelloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes). After dominating the 2009 season, she took the 2010 season away from the sport and makes her return in Providence. Up from the mid-Atlantic are perennial winner Laura Van Gilder (C3 p/b Mellow Mushroom) and C3/Athletes Serving Athletes racer Arley Kemmerer. Van Gilder has to be considered a favorite at any race she attends and she’s made a living winning bike races in New England. Kemmerer is always dangerous and with a race as unpredictable as Providence, she could impress.
Both days this weekend feature the pinnacle of Amateur Racing in the United States for the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series. As always, the huge fields of Amateur and Masters Men will offer top-tier entertainment and incredibly competitive racing. The highlight is the growth of the Amateur Women’s fields – between the two days nearly two hundred women will take on the extremely challenging courses designed by the legendary Tom Stevens. The growth of the Amateur Women’s field is unprecedented in USA Cycling races and is a big point of pride for our race organizers.
Nearly 1500 racers have already registered to race in Providence across the two days with many more expected to register on race day. More information can be found at providencecrossfest.com.