Conditions at the Providence Cyclocross Festival changed rapidly from fairly dry course conditions early in the day to a slick course with greasy, muddy corners as a partly cloudy sky gave way to a steady rain as the Elite racers inspected the course. It seems that Helen Wyman‘s and Ben Berden‘s wish for a muddy race would be answered.
A tricky off-camber straight-away immediately caused problems for many riders in the Elite women’s field, as Helen Wyman (Kona) and Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus) seized the opportunity to get away from the pack. Day challenged Wyman, who was attempting to ride away for a 9th win to add to her winning streak, but Day kept the British National Champion within sight for nearly the entire race. Experienced mountain bike champion, Olympian, and expert bike handler Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda/Seven/No Tubes) excelled in today’s challenging conditions, even claiming the distinction of being the only Elite rider in this race to ride the stairs, while holding onto third position for most of the race. Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) suffered a mechanical in the mud early in the race and finished nowhere close to her stellar second place ride of yesterday after having to spend so much time running with her bike.
Wyman felt the pressure from Day right behind her, but managed to remain composed, her bright white British National champion’s jersey remaining clean. On the other hand, most of the rest of the mud-covered Elite women’s field appeared to have slid out on the ice-like course at one time or another. Despite turning up the heat late in the race, as Day will often do, she was unable to catch Wyman, who cruised into her 9th straight win. Following Day in second and McConneloug in third, Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst) had a great ride for fourth with Caroline Mani (Raleigh-Clement) in fifth.
The rain became increasingly heavy as the men lined up to start. British National Champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles-Specialized) charged off the front, with Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and U23 series points leader Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) matching the pace. McDonald then swung into the lead, these tricky course conditions his favorite type of riding. With McDonald alone, Field assumed second and Johnson third, with Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) fighting for fourth and fifth. Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld.com) ran into trouble early on with a crash in the treacherous conditions, and a second crash forced him to abandon the race. Justin Lindine (Redline), winner of both days of Providence last year, also crashed early on, removing him from contention for the top spots in the race.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s motivation became apparent as he chased down and caught Field, just as Berden surpassed Powers for good. The race concluded for McDonald as he held fast with an amazing ride for a solid win, while Johnson, Field, and Berden came together in the last half lap to battle for the podium. Berden and Johnson dropped a struggling Field, Berden finally emerging to take the second podium spot, followed by crowd favorite Johnson in third.
The Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series points leaders emerged this weekend in Providence, during the second weekend of the series after the Gran Prix of Gloucester last weekend. Helen Wyman has the clear leadership in the Elite women’s division, while U23 women’s leader is Kaitie Antonneau. Today’s race winner Zach McDonald cemented his hold on the U23 series jersey, while Powers maintains his grip on the overall Elite men’s jersey.
Elite Women Top 10 (Complete results)
1. Helen Wyman, Kona
2. Gabby Day, Rapha-Focus
3. Mary McConneloug, Team Kenda/Seven/No Tubes
4. Andrea Smith, LadiesFirst Racing
5. Caroline Mani, Raleigh-Clement
6. Laura Van Gilder, Mellow Mushroom
7. Elle Anderson, LadiesFirst Racing
8. Arley Kemmerer, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes
9. Katie Antonneau, Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld
10. Natasha Elliot, The Cyclery
Elite Men Top 10
1. Zach MacDonald, Rapha-Focus
2. Ben Berden, Raleigh-Clement
3. Tim Johnson, Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld
4. Ian Field, Hargroves Cycles – Specialized
5. Jeremy Powers, Rapha-Focus
6. Yannick Eckmann, Cal Giant/Specialized
7. Jamey Driscoll, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld
8 Tristan Schouten, Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strageties
9. Jake Wells, Stan’s NoTubes
10. Joachim Parbo, Challenge Tires