The sun shone brightly down on Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island today as racing kicked off at the third annual Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike. Temperatures rose to near 80 degrees and there was not a cloud in the sky as the racers took on the traditional course at Providence, modeled after the National Championship courses designed by Tom Stevens.
For the third consecutive year, the Providence Cyclocross Festival has grown in stature and with this year’s addition of the VeloSwap to the expo area, it showed itself as an event like no other in the US – top tier racing on the edge of a city center with legitimate attractions for non-racers. Despite the constant buzz throughout the day emanating from the Expo, the stars of today’s festival were the racers competing for leadership in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge and the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series. Today’s UCI Category 1 race attracted the top talent from the region as well as from Canada and Europe.
From before the race even got started, it was clear that today was going to be an all-out battle with the top step on the podium wide open. The highlights in the starting blocks included local heroes, Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles), Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing), Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cyclces), Sara Bresnick (Embrocation Cycling Journal) and the triumphant return of Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes) as well as some of the top racers from the Mid-Atlantic in the people of Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom p/b C3) and Arley Kemmerer (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes).
At the start, it was Smith, Van Gilder and Annis at the front, setting a torrid pace – stretching the field out in the first set of corners. The group of three drove the pace hard and held a chasing group of Bruno Roy, Bresnick and McConneloug at bay. Each of the riders at the front was taking their turn, maintaining a high pace, knowing that their best chance would come if the group held together and the group behind was held at arm’s length.It seemed like it would be a formality that the podium would be the lead group until Smith lost control in an off-cambered downhill corner just after the pit. Smith lost a lot of time with a slow recovery and saw her podium hopes slip away. Ahead of her, Mary McConneloug turned up the heat, attacking her chasing group and making contact with the leaders.
Shorly after McConneloug took up her place in the front group, Annis dropped off the pace just a little. With Smith fighting to come back from well behind and Annis slightly off the pace, it became a battle between Van Gilder, a specialist in the sprint and a master tactician and McConneloug, whose forte is handling her bike and finds victory through smooth and conservative racing. Van Gilder, knowing that she had her finishing speed as an ace in the hole, was comfortable following McConneloug through the course. Van Gilder made only one move – she came around McConneloug heading into the final section of grass and put two bike lengths between them almost immediately and that was enough space. Van Gilder turned those two bike lengths into seven seconds and crossed the line first for her first UCI C1 victory of the season. McConneloug was happy with her second-place while Annis crossed the line third. Smith came back from her crash and mechanical and finished seventh.
The Elite Men started through a cloud of chaos with several riders getting tangled in the start, from the chaos emerged Adam Myerson (SmartStop/MOB p/b Ridley) and Dylan McNicholas (cyclocrossworld.com) at the front. McNicholas, as he has done at almost every race he’s entered this year, took his holeshot and tried to go with it. By the end of the second lap, McNicholas had put four seconds on the massive group of chasers. The chase seemed happy to let McNicholas dangle, sat back and rode a tempo that kept him on a short leash. Entering the fourth lap, Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage) saw what was happening, “Guys were just looking at each other on the pavement and I just had to go.” Lindine quickly caught up to McNicholas and the two immediately began to build their lead.
With five laps to go, Lindine made his move, dropping McNicholas and quietly powering away from his competition. It’s genetally not with devastating attacks that Lindine wins, but by wearing down his competition, and today was no different. Once there was separation, he was gone and rode away to what is easily the biggest victory of his career. Lindine was obviously overjoyed with the victory as he takes over leadership of the Shimano Series.
In the battle behind, McNicholas was comfortably riding in for a second place finish until he flatted his rear tire just after the pit, forcing him to ride gingerly and lose time over the next half of a lap. This gave the chasing duo that had originally been battling for third, the chance to complete the podium. Sharing the work were Canadian U23 Evan McNeely (EMD Serono/Specialized) and mid-Atlantic racer Weston Schempf (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) – caught and dropped was McNicholas. McNeely freed himself of Schempf as the two made the final turns before the finishing stretch and came across the line second.
The battle of the day was in the group for fourth – this group had peaked at fifteen riders and coming into the final two laps was at its fullest. An awkward crash in a corner took Derrick St John (Stevens p/b The Cyclery), Tyler Wren (Boo Bicycles) and Myerson out of the group with only Wren able to make a full recovery. In the finale, McNicholas bested two Swiss racers based in the mid-Atlantic, Lukas Winterberg and Eric Brungger, both from the Philadelphia Cyclocross School as well as Wren and Canadian Craig Richey (Renner Custom Cyclocross) to finish fourth.
Verge Series Races. Curtis White (Clif Bar Junior Development) dominated the Amateur Men’s race, putting over a minute into his competition. Behind, Chandler Delinks (cyclocrossworld.com) was able to outkick Kristopher Dobie (Cycle-Smart) and Johnny Herrick (UVM Cycling) for second.
Bill Elliston (Van Dessel Factory Team) won the 35+ race in a sprint out of a group of five ahead of Todd Bowden (Expo/Superior Energy), Series leader Brian Wilichoski (cyclocrossworld.com), Edwin Bull (Van Dessel Factory Team) and Kevin Hines (Corner Cycle).
Corner Cycle’s Sam Morse came out on top of the 45+ ahead of cyclocrossworld.com’s Paul Richard and Joe’s Garage racer Jeff Molongoski.The 55+ race went to Paul Curley (Gear Works/Spin Arts) who powered away from ECV’s Gary Passler and David King.
Ellen Noble (Trek Portsmouth) picked up another big victory by outkicking Lori Cooke (Cycle Lodge) for the win in the Amateur Women’s race. Christina Birch from MIT Cycling came across the line third. Michael Owens (Bliss Racing) picked up the Junior 10-14 victory with Kevin Goguen (Team CF) and Donnie Seib (bikeman.com) rounding out the podium.
Racing continues Sunday morning and concludes with a UCI C2 race for the women and men.
Top 10 Elite Women
1. Laura Van Gilder (C3 p/b Mellow Mushroom)
2. Mary McConneloug (KENDA-Seven-NoTubes)
3. sally annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA cycles)
4. Crystal Anthony (LadiesFirst Racing)
5. Sara Bresnick-Zocchi (Embrocationcycling.com)
6. nicole thiemann (Team CF)
7. Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing)
8. arley kemmerer (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes)
9. catherine sterling (Bikeman.com)
10. Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill pb Seven Cycles)
Top 10 Elite Men
1. Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com / Joe’s Garage)
2. Evan McNeely (EMD Serono / Specialized)
3. Weston Schempf (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes p/b Twenty20 Cycling)
4. Dylan McNicholas (CYCLOCROSSWORLD.COM)
5. Lukas Winterberg (Philadelphia Cyclocross School)
6. Eric Brungger (Philadelphia Cyclocross School)
7. Tyler Wren (Boo Bicycles)
8. CRAIG RICHEY (RENNER CUSTOM CYCLOCROSS TEAM)
9. DERRICK ST JOHN (Stevens p/b The Cyclery)
10. travis livermon (Smart Stop-Mock Orange p/b Ridley)