Racers in 14 categories took to a newly re-designed course on first day of racing at the 23rd annual Cycle-Smart International today. The oldest UCI cyclocross race in the country is rounds 5 & 6 of the prestigious Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge, and rounds 7 & 8 of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the premier amateur points competition in the US.
CSI offers a special special atmosphere for racers, their families, and spectators. Aside from a world-class race course with top-notch racing, CSI featured a kid’s race organized by the local Northampton Cycling Club on a special course conveniently located beside a bouncy house. A beer and food tent, offering local brews from High & Mighty Brewing, benefitted promising young cyclists through the JAM Fund. Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria), sadly sidelined due to a knee injury, was working hard serving up fries and cold beverages at the JAM Fund tent all day to benefit future generations of JAM Fund recipients. Plenty of food trucks kept spectators happily fed as they cheered for their favorites in the Elite races.
In the Elite Women’s race, Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits) quickly took the helm, showing her trademark calmness as a star-studded chase group formed to hunt her down. In the group was Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty 20 Cycling), freshly back from a very successful stint racing with the best of the best in Europe, looked sure to be dominant in today’s racing. Right there with her was Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom Pizza), teammates Emma White and Maghalie Rochette (Cyclocrossworld.com), Natasha Elliott (Rare Vos Racing/Stevens), and Amanda Carey (Stan’s No Tubes Elite). In a demonstration of her power, Anthony only solidified her lead despite the efforts of a well-organized chase. Van Gilder bested Kemmerer in the final stretch in an explosive sprint, deciding the second and third place spots.
In the Elite Men’s race, Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel Factory Team) took the lead in the first lap with one of his characteristic strong starts, followed by Raphaël Gagné (Rocky Mountain Factory), Jeremy Durrin (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), Dan Timmerman (House Industries-Richard Sachs-RGM), Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld), and Evan McNeely (Norco Factory Team). Gagné attacked early and often, pressuring the group to chase repeatedly. Meanwhile, Shawn Milne (Keough Cyclocross p/b Felt Bicycles) bridged from the chase group to connect with the leaders, proceeding to do his fair share of the work to bring Gagné’s attacks back – and then launching some of his own. Durrin suffered a front flat, and the leaders’ repeated attacks had them moving at such a fast clip that Durrin was unable to reconnect with the lead group. The group leaders disintegrated under the pressure in the final two laps, leaving Gagné, Garrigan, Milne, McNeely and White in a loosely-formed group to battle for the win. Milne attacked, gaining a significant advantage until Gagné put in a tremendous surge. After an over-the-handlebars crash in the woods, Gagné astounded the crowds by reconnecting with Milne and beating the crit racer in a pavement sprint at the line.
In the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge points competition, wins today from Raphael Gagne and Crystal Anthony have them gaining on the current series leaders. Should both win tomorrow, they will be fewer than five points off of the leaders and the series purse, and would hit the start line at the NEPCX finale weekend at the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross knowing the series purse was within reach. Rochette retains her lead in the U23 women’s division, while McNeely positioned himself to be within striking distance of the U23 men’s category.
Full results at crossresults.com
Watch for live race updates on Twitter from @VergeNECXS for the amateur races and @NEproCX for the Elite races. Stay tuned for links to the live streaming video coverage of the race from Gnarly Monkey here starting at 2 pm ET.