The Providence Cyclocross Festival began at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence on Friday night before moving to the site of the 2005 and 2006 US National Cyclocross championships at Roger Williams Park. The Biltmore hosted an invitation-only rider presentation and the second annual Builder’s Ball showcasing New England’s foremost bicycle builders. This UCI Catergory 1 race, the second in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series after day one of Gloucester, drew some of the biggest names in North American cyclocross angling for the reward of more UCI points and larger pay-outs than UCI category 2 races offer.
Local company G-Form showed their support for professional women’s cycling, offering to equal the Elite men’s payouts for the top three Elite women.
Saturday’s race events got under way as racers hit an increasingly dry course in sunny, warm conditions – a huge shift from the chilly, rainy, muddy races on the first two days of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series at the Gran Prix of Gloucester last weekend. The fast course featured two sets of stairs, a set of double barriers, signature off-camber turns and short, punchy climbs. A brand-new ride-up flyover was a crowd favorite. Record crowds gathered not only to race in the amateur events, but to visit the local businesses and cycling vendors who had set up booths in the expo area. Racers, their friends and families, as well as cycling fans, stood in lines at the popular food trucks to refuel after their grueling competitions.
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The Elite women hit the course during the warmest part of the day, with temperatures reaching 75 degrees under a relentless sun. It was Helen Wyman (Kona) who controlled the race from the hole shot to its conclusion. Her calculated and smooth riding style has brought her to the top spot of the podium eight times already during her stay in the United States this year. A chase group including Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant/Specialized), Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda/Seven/No Tubes), Lea Davison (Specialized), and Kaitie Antonneau (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale) fought the gathering wind together in a futile attempt to get British National Cyclocross champion Wyman back in sight.
Crystal Anthony (cyclocrossworld.com) chased her way back on to the group in a display of the strength we have come to expect from this local racer who this season has shown she can race alongside the big names. The group would more or less ride together until the concluding lap, when, after leading the chase for a large part of the race and trading attacks with fellow racers, Miller went down on the pavement, a crash which would remove her from the race with a broken wrist. Antonneau went on the attack, leaving the others to sprint for the last podium spot. Anthony mustered her strength to sprint for the finish and landed third place. “I dug deep for that last lap.” Antonneau said. “I’m really happy about the podium. It boosts my confidence and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Ryan Trebon (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale) knew that their tie for points leader in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series would be broken during today’s Elite men’s race. At Friday night’s rider presentation, US National Cyclocross champion Powers mentioned his motivation to win in front of a large cheering section comprised of family and friends from his nearby hometown of Niantic, Connecticut, but Trebon would prove a challenging opponent for Powers. So too would Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement), who charged off the start line in an attempt to string out the field and force a break. Only the strongest could follow, including Powers, Trebon, Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale), Dylan McNicholas (Cyclocrossworld.com), and Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles/Specialized).
Splitting the group further, Trebon took up the reins, a move that only Field, Berden, and Powers could match. As their lead solidified, Field was shaken from the group and the race belonged entirely to Trebon, Powers, and Berden; the only thing left to be decided was who would get which podium position. Meanwhile, Johnson’s strong start was struck down by a mechanical, forcing him to abandon the race. Field chased the lead three by himself in a fourth-place position that he would hold on to as he crossed the finish line. A larger chase group, each with designs on the last top five spot, was led by Justin Lindine (Redline), Elite men’s winner of both days of the Providence Cyclocross Festival last year. Trebon and Powers dropped Berden as they lit up the final lap, but the two raced neck-in-neck leaving the win to be decided with a sprint. Powers took the win on the final push up the pavement, with Trebon in second. Berden rolled in by himself for third. Field, also alone, took fourth, as young Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) won a bunch sprint with the chase group for fifth and a more solid grasp on the U23 series points leader jersey.
“This was one of the hardest battles I’ve ever fought with Ryan,” said Powers of his difficult path to today’s win. “And we’ve had a lot of battles.”
As the race concluded, dark storm clouds rolled in, dropping steady rain on the volunteers as they put up the course tape for tomorrow’s race. “The worse the conditions, the better for me,” Berden said of the threat of rain. “I love mud!” Wyman said. While the conditions won’t match the thick mud of Gloucester, the rain and its effect on the course will surely shape tomorrow’s race, perhaps in favor of the slop-loving “mudders”.
Elite Women Top 10 (Complete results on crossresults.com)
1. Helen Wyman, Kona
2. Katie Antonneau, Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld
3. Crystal Anthony, Cyclocrossworld.com
4. Lea Davison, Specialized Racing
5. Mary McConneloug, Team Kenda/Seven/No Tubes
6. Julie Krasniak, Rapha–Focus
7. Gabby Day, Rapha-Focus
8. Arley Kemmerer, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes
9. Caroline Mani, Raleigh-Clement
10. Laura Van Gilder, Mellow Mushroom
Elite Men Top 10
1. Jeremy Powers, Rapha-Focus
2. Ryan Trebon, Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld
3. Ben Berden, Raleigh-Clement
4. Ian Field, Hargroves Cycles – Specialized
5. Zach McDonald, Rapha-Focus
6. Yannick Eckmann, Cal Giant/Specialized
7. Dylan McNicholas, Cyclocrossworld.com
8. Christopher Jones, UCI PCT: United Healthcare
9. Allen Krughoff, Raleigh-Clement
10. Justin Lindine, Redline