They may be juniors in age, but now they’re among the top elite riders in OVCX. With the previous week’s winners, Ryan Knapp and Mackenzie Woodring, taking the week off, the young guns of OVCX fought hard and claimed the podiums under the falling leaves and crispy air of John Bryan State Park, east of Dayton, OH.
Chloe Dygert (Midwest Devo) and Gavin Haley (Red Zone Cycling) raced to wins at the 5th stop of the Zipp OVCX Series. As it turns out, according to promoter TJ Turner, with the help of presenting sponsors Buckingham Financial Group, Inc., BioWheels and Kenda, “We also raised money to send both (local) junior teams to nationals.”
In a park known for its beautiful natural rock formations and creek carved valleys, the ground was mostly hard packed after a light shower the previous day. Designed by BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing’s Phil Noble, the course featured challenging off camber corners, a wide stretch of single track, a sandy U-Turn and a tempting set of log-overs.
“The best part of the race yesterday was seeing us three 16 year old girls towards the front the whole time.” Mackenzie Green (Borah) said of the elite women’s race. From the start, Green drove the pace hard, nearly gapping the field on the slightly off-camber uphill start. Within the first 300 meters, the initial soft corners of the course funneled riders into the first set of off-camber ups and downs.
“I wanted to be the first one to get there so I wouldn’t get held up in the bottlenecks,” said Green after the race. Dygert and Katherine “KK” Santos (Red Zone Cycling) sensed the danger. Dygert was the first to make contact just before the logs. Green and Dygert rode together until midway through the second lap when Dygert attacked at the barriers.
Using her incredible kick, Dygert added, “I was able to get in front of Mackenzie at the barriers and pull away from her for the win.” Riding through the U-turn sand, this put Green in a pickle. “KK was still close behind me. It stayed that way for a good portion of the race – me trying to catch Chloe and stay away from KK.”
Meanwhile, New York’s Katina Walker (Crankskins.com) motored her way up and overtook Santos for third and kept driving forward. Suddenly, Green had someone new in her rearview. “Close to the finish line a spectator yelled at me to keep her from passing,” said Green. The home crowd advantage worked! Green smartly held Walker off through the 2nd set of tight off-camber corners headed toward the finish to claim 2nd behind Dygert.
Maybe Haley had something to prove before he left for Belgium this week, whatever it was; the young rider gave it all he had to win Sunday. “I had an awful start, around 25th. By the end of the first lap, I latched onto the back of the lead group.” Setting up a very tactical race, the front group consisted of Haley, John Francisco (Papa John’s Racing), Jason Monk (Team WHAYNE) and the Sophisticated Living p/b Bob’s Red Mill duo of Spencer Petrov and Ian McShane.
Haley was first to turn the screws. While all rode the logs, Haley put in a huge effort when the rear wheel hit the ground, stretching the group out. McShane later said, “When I went into the pit on the second lap, Gavin attacked and Spencer followed.” The move drew out Petrov, but left McShane behind with Francisco. “Two laps later,” Haley added, “I pressed hard into a corner and Spencer slid out. I just said ‘I’m going for it.’”
With Haley gone and Petrov now chasing with McShane and Francisco, it became a race for 2nd. “I kept the pressure on and turned it up on the last lap when we got a slight gap on Spencer,” said Francisco. “I hit it hard on the singletrack and after the barriers and that was enough to lock up 2nd.” McShane conceded, “He (Francisco) ripped my legs off in the last lap and finished 6 seconds ahead of me.”
After the race, Elite Women’s winner Chloe Dygert summed up the day, “It’s cool to see the juniors dominating both men and women elite races!”
Complete results at usacycling.org
This Sunday, Zipp OVCX Series rekindles the World Championship spirit as racing returns to the site of the 2013 CX World Championships at Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park in Louisville. The course will feature many of the obstacles that Sven Nys tamed last February. .