It was the race that almost didn’t happen: on August 27th, after a year of hard work and tough negotiations, race promoter Paul Boudreau finally won final approval from City Hall to run the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester as planned.
With the crown jewel of the Shimano New England Pro Cyclocross Series presented by Verge secured, the cycling community swung into action. Hosts Essex County Velo kicked preparations into overdrive. A mere month later, the race is nearly sold out, with almost a thousand individuals set to hit the course. The biggest stars of cyclocross are registered and ready. Fans are raring to cheer from the Great Brewers beer garden, which offers the best selection of any cyclocross race year after year. Sponsors stepped in to show their support: Mad Alchemy will offer a special limited edition embrocation, and Pedro’s will have a GP Gloucester commemorative t-shirt. Proceeds from both go directly to improvements for the seaside Stage Fort Park, the most gorgeous cyclocross race venue in the US. This 15th year of the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester is set to be the most spectacular festival of what makes New England Cyclocross the best in the nation.
Top Elite racers from across the globe race for points in the Elite Shimano Series presented by Verge, as the competition also heats up in the USA Cycling Pro CX points standings. Last year’s Shimano NEPCX Elite Men’s overall winner and current ProCX points leader Jeremy Powers (Rapha-FOCUS) will be tough to beat, but the competition is thick with top-ranked racers intent on defeating Powers. Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) and teammate Tim Johnson have proven their worth on this course many times before. Rising stars such as current U23 National Cyclocross Champion Yannick Eckmann (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) and Zach McDonald (Rapha-FOCUS) will be strong contenders for podium spots, while Swiss racer Lukas Winterberg (Müller Landscape / BH Bikes), ranked fifth in the Pro CX standings, and Justin Lindine (Redline/NBX) are the wild cards that could shake up the front of the race.
World-class Elite women ready themselves for what will certainly be an epic battle, and, in true New England fashion, the women compete for a prize purse of equal value to that of the Elite men. Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing) is the one to watch in this race, with her off-the-front performances delivering sound defeat to her competition weekend after weekend; however, Meredith Miller (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) and Gabby Day (Rapha-FOCUS) could be the ones to reel Wyman in. Joining in the chase will be Elle Anderson (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), on a tear so far this season, and fast-twitch phenom Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom), ready to outsprint anyone she encounters. Last year’s U23 Elite Women’s leader in the Shimano NEPCX, Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale pb CyclocrossWorld), winner of last year’s Verge New England Cyclocross Series Crystal Anthony, newly signed to Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies, and New England all-star Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) will fight hard for those podium spots.
However, the chatter has been all about the newcomers Maghalie Rochette (Cyclocrossworld.com) and Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria). Both racers are taking the world of cyclocross by storm, and both mark their first-ever Great Brewers Gran Prix of Cyclocross this weekend. “This season has been a dream,” says Hyde, who just last weekend defeated US National Cyclocross Champion Jonathan Page. “I can’t wait to race my first year at Gloucester!”
“I look at all these women with a lot of admiration. To be able to race with them this year is really exciting and challenging for me,” says Rochette of her rocket-like trajectory to the front of the race. “I’ve never raced Gloucester, and from what I’ve heard and seen, it looks like a really awesome course! I’m really excited to see what happens like this weekend!”
Be sure to watch for these two on the podium steps at Gloucester, and in the rest of this season’s New England cyclocross races.
Follow the race action this weekend with live tweets from @NEproCX
The Shimano New England Pro Cyclocross Series presented by Verge attracts Elite racers to compete for the most sought-after Elite crown in US cyclocross. Races 1 & 2 of the series are this weekend at the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester in categories for Elite men, Elite women, U23 men and U23 women. Next up in the series is the Providence Cyclocross Festival, Cycle-Smart International and NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross.
The Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester’s amateur races are also a part of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the premier amateur cyclocross series in the US spanning six weekends of amazing cyclocross racing. Categories of competition for juniors, masters, amateur men and amateur women at Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend, the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Cyclocross, Providence Cyclocross Festival, Cycle-Smart International, Bay State Cyclocross, and the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross means the fierce competition on the race course spills over into exciting season-long rivalries.