For the first time this season, cold and wind greeted racers in Sterling, Massachusetts for the seventh round of the Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series and part one of the NACT finals. The course, which started the day frozen and muddy had mostly thawed dried out by the time the elites took to it, leaving a smooth and fast parcours. A classic cyclocross course, Tom Stevens’s design at the Chocksett Middle School was similar to past years with long off-camber sections, tricky and rutted corners and long fast stretches on pavement and cinder tracks.
As has been the case in all the Verge Series races this year, the elite women had a tight group at the front from the beginning to the end. Initially, the group was made up of eight racers, but eventually pared itself to a group of five with Laura Van Gilder (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes), Natasha Elliott (Garneau Club/Chaussure/Ogilvy), Sally Annis (crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles), Arley Kemmerer (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles). As the race wore on, Elliott constantly pushed the pace, driving the group on all the open sections of the course and was eventually able to shed Kemmerer and Bruno-Roy. Reduced to three, the women seemed content to ride tempo, holding the chase at a consistent fifteen-second gap, waiting for mistakes to be made. Van Gilder used all the experience she’s gained over 370+ race wins in her career and sat in behind the wheel of Elliott for almost the whole race. A savvy racer herself, Elliott would take full advantage of the cinder track to recover, knowing she would be able to close any attacks, should they come.
The three leaders matched each other until the last half lap when Sally Annis made her move, attacking the group through the north side of the course. Van Gilder, unwilling to let the move go, immediately closed the gap, relegating Elliott to third wheel as the group hit the finish stretch.
From there the win was largely academic as Van Gilder put a quick six bike lengths on her competitors to take the victory. Behind her Elliott edged Annis by barely a tire’s width in a photo finish. Twenty seconds later, Arley Kemmerer and Bruno-Roy hit the track with Kemmerer out-kicking Bruno-Roy for fourth. With her third-place, Annis regains the series leader’s jersey.
In the elite men’s race, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the race would be to see who could hold on to Jeremy Powers (Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com) for the longest. Powers, racing alone in New England as teammates Tim Johnson and Jamey Driscoll were in Belgium and Iowa, respectively, came into today motivated to pick up his first ever national series win. With a finish of fourth or better, Powers would clinch the overall in the NACT series, but like any other champion, Powers came to win.
From the gun, Powers was on the front of the race, quickly shedding Adam Myerson (Cycle-Smart), Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage/Scott) and Christian Favata (Favata’s Tablerock Tours and Bikes). The only person able to hold on to the Cannondale racer’s wheel was Luke Keough (Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross). With a herculean effort, Keough was able to keep the pace for the first half of the race but with four laps to go, Powers made an effort to break free and Keough was trapped in no-man’s land. Keough slid back past Myerson and St John but managed to hold on for a very impressive fourth-place and U-23 victory.
Behind Powers, Myerson and St John were punishing each other in hopes of picking up the remaining podium spots and all was going well until Myerson missed a pedal after the barriers, giving St John the small gap he needed to make a move. In the blink of an eye, St John had put ten seconds into Myerson and the two held their pace to the finish. St John was given the Devonshire Dental Most Aggressive Rider prize for his efforts.
With Myerson third and Justin Lindine pulling in fifth, the distance between first and second place in the Verge NECCS has been nearly halved with only three rounds left to go.
Racing will start up again Sunday morning in Sterling with the NACT series final awards being presented at the end of the day to the men and women.
1 Jeremy Powers (USA) Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com 0:56:13
2 Derrick St John (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy 0:00:35
3 Adam Myerson (USA) Cycle-Smart 0:00:55
4 Luke Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross 0:01:13
5 Justin Lindine (USA) BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage / Scott
6 Travis Livermon (USA) Mock Orange Racing 0:01:49
7 Robert Marion (USA) American Classic 0:02:13
8 Andrew Wulfkuhle (USA) C3-Athletes Serving Athletes
9 Christian Favata (USA) Favata's Tablerock Tours and Bikes 0:02:15
10 Alec Donahue (USA) Wheelhouse-NCC 0:02:40
11 Nicholas Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross 0:03:00
12 Jonathan Sundt (USA) El Gato CX 0:03:13
13 Brian Wilichoski (USA) Cyclocrossworld.com
14 David Wilcox (USA) Pedro's Grassroots Cycling Club
15 Dan Chabanov (USA) NYCross.com / CBRC
16 Thierry Laliberté (Can) Xprezo - Borsao 0:03:40
17 Manny Goguen (USA) BikeReg.com / Joe's Garage / Scott
18 Jesse Keough (USA) Champion System p/b Keough Cyclocross
19 Anthony Clark (USA) nebikeconsulting.com 0:04:02
20 Joshua Dillon (USA) Richard Sachs-RGM Watches-Radix 0:04:53
21 Ryan Kelly (USA) crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles 0:05:03
22 Michael Wissell (USA) B2C2
23 John Burns (USA) Bikeman.com 0:05:24
24 Jean-Philippe Thibault-Roberge (Can) PlaneteSports.ca 0:05:31
25 Adam Sullivan (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal 0:06:01
26 Greg Whitney (USA) B2C2 p/b Boloco 0:06:14
27 Stephen Pierce (USA) Cambridge Bicycle-Igleheart Frames 0:06:24
28 John Hanson (USA) Silver Bull/Central Wheel 0:07:06
29 Colin Reuter (USA) crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles 0:07:17
30 Joshua Lehmann (USA) Pedro's Race Team
31 Cary Fridrich (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal / Mad Alchemy
32 Collin Huston (USA) Moots
33 Rodrigo Moraes (Bra) Edgartown Bicycles
34 R. Michael McKittrick (USA) Cambridge Bicycle / Igleheart Frames
35 Steven Hopengarten (USA) Wheelworks Racing
1 Laura Van Gilder (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes 0:40:31
2 Natasha Elliott (Can) Garneau Club Chaussure-Ogilvy
3 Sally Annis (USA) crossresults.com p/b JRA Cycles
4 Arley Kemmerer (USA) C3 - Athletes Serving Athletes 0:00:20
5 Maureen Bruno Roy (USA) Bob's Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles
6 Andrea Smith (USA) LadiesFirst Racing 0:00:55
7 Ann D'Ambruoso (USA) LadiesFirst Racing 0:00:59
8 Linnea Koons (USA) Embrocation Cycling Journal 0:01:05
9 Crystal Anthony (USA) LadiesFirst Racing 0:01:11
10 Carolyn Popovic (USA) PAValleys.com
11 Rebecca Blatt (USA) Silverbull Central Wheel
12 Christina Tamilio (USA) LadiesFirst Racing 0:01:53
13 Arielle Filiberti (USA) Specialized D4 Women p/b Bicycle Haus 0:02:36
14 Rebecca Wellons (USA) Pedro's 0:02:53
15 Marilyn Ruseckas (USA) Seven Cycles/NoTubes/FitWerx
16 Allison Snooks (USA) LadiesFirst Racing
17 Kristine Church (USA) Human Zoom-Pabst Blue Ribbon 0:04:03
18 Jena Greaser (USA) Colavita Racing 0:04:28
19 Jessica Hayes Conroy (USA) North American Velo 0:06:15