Today marked the second and final day of the 15th annual Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester, the race nicknamed “The New England World Championships,” due in large part to the serious contingent of world-class athletes who show up to race here. Hosts Essex County Velo and race promoter Paul Boudreau orchestrated a masterpiece for the opening weekend of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge.
A stunning seaside backdrop, Stage Fort Park set the scene for almost a thousand racers in eleven categories of racing, who, along with their families and race fans from all over, enjoyed the racing on this expertly-designed, fast, dry course all day long. Throngs of fans gathered for the Elite races this afternoon, waiting to see who would take the series lead in the Elite men’s, Elite women’s, men’s U23 and women’s U23 categories.
The strongest and the fastest Elite women appeared motivated for a win today. Right from the whistle, a group of the top racers formed: Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing), Crystal Anthony (Optum Racing p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Gabby Durrin (Rapha-FOCUS), Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Courtenay McFadden (Bicycle Bluebook/HRS/Rock Lobster), Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom), yesterday’s winner Elle Anderson (California Giant Berry Farns/Specialized) and her teammate Meredith Miller.
Brimming with confidence after her win over a solid field yesterday, Anderson attacked the lead group repeatedly, eventually launching an attack only Wyman could follow. The chase group organized and mustered what they could to reel in the leaders. For laps, Wyman sat second wheel, controlling Anderson’s subsequent attacks with the calm of an experienced racer; however, Anderson proved too much for Wyman to handle. Anderson made her winning move within the final half lap, dropping Wyman for good to make a clean sweep of the weekend as Wyman rolled across in second. The chase group, meanwhile, shifted their focus from chasing to jockeying for that final podium spot. It was Meredith Miller around that last corner and onto the pavement first, securing the third podium step.
“I really love this race, so this is a very special win for me!” says New England born and bred Elle Anderson of her wins at Gloucester, which are the latest in her four-race winning streak.
The Elite men kicked up dust as a long, uninterrupted line of racers snaked through the course in the first lap. The front of the race began to organize, with Ben Berden and Jamey Driscoll of Raleigh-Clement, Tim Johnson and Ryan Trebon of Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com, Yannick Eckmann (California Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), and Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) forming a powerful train to leave the rest of the field in the dust.
The group never stayed comfortable, however; Johnson and Trebon made repeated valiant attacks, each looking like it could succeed. Johnson’s attack with two to go gained him almost ten seconds on the other leaders, and the crowd roared for what seemed like a winning move. Powers cranked it into overdrive and led the chase, closing down Johnson’s gap with an alacrity only Trebon could match. The rest of the leaders’ group shattered and were left to fend for themselves as the three leaders crossed the line with one to go. It was Powers who launched the next attack, Johnson on his wheel, Trebon losing some time on them. Johnson chased hard but was forced into the pit with a half lap remaining, leaving Powers to claim the victory. Trebon crossed the line second, Johnson third.
“I’ve done a lot of racing here, and I have a lot of memories,” said Powers of his double win at Gloucester. “I’m glad for the community and the support I find here. I’m just happy to be here at Gloucester!”
In the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge Elite points competition, our two-day winners Powers and Anderson wear the leaders’ jerseys, while Antonneau and Eckmann wear the jerseys for U23 women and men.
The series continues next weekend at the Providence Cyclocross Festival, where New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross continues. Expect a strong showing of the nation’s top racers once again, as battles continue in the Shimano series and in the USA Cycling Pro CX series.
Complete results at crossresults.com