by Ken Getchell
Jamesburg, NJ, USA: The UCI C2 HPCX served as the seventh round of the MAC Powered by SRAM Cyclocross Series on Sunday. Unlike the previous day’s sandfest at the Beacon Cyclocross in southern New Jersey, Sunday’s race meandered through a large grassy park next to Jamesburg’s business district. At 2.7 km, the course was technically one of the shortest on this year’s MAC circuit, but the combination of turns, hills and heavy ground from the previous day’s rainstorm made for long lap times, in the eight minute range for the Elite Men.
While the laps were long, the racing was extremely competitive. The first indication of tactical racing that was to come was in the Elite Masters race, a division that Roger Aspholm and his Westwood Velo Team have dominated for several years. For all intents and purposes, this was the home race for the New Jersey based Westwood Velo team, but their confidence was probably a bit shaken when Aspholm was only able to narrowly outsprint former Elite Masters season champion Mike Yozell the day before at Beacon. Yozell, who rides for VisitPA.com, the tourism division of the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, wasn’t exactly feeling in a neighborly mood as he set off early to control the race against the Westwood juggernaut. A fast pace quickly created the first selection of five riders, and then slowly shed them out of the lead group. Dave Weaver of ALAN North America was the first to lose contact, followed first by Troy Kimball and then Todd Cassan of Westwood, leaving just Yozell and Aspholm at the front. Yozell never relented and controlled the pace until the end, when he got a small gap on Aspholm on the barriers placed just 250 meters before the finish line. 200 meters later, as Yozell sprinted for home, Aspholm conceded not only the race but his winning streak.
The UCI Women’s race was more of the same as defending MAC Powered by SRAM champion Maureen Bruno Roy (MM Racing / Seven Cycles), current points leader Laura Van Gilder (C3-Sollay.com) and perennial front runner Dee Dee Winfield (Velo Bella / Kona) waged their own private battle well ahead of the rest of the field. Amazingly, given Van Gilder’s world-class sprinting abilities, neither Winfield nor Bruno-Roy made a concerted effort to establish a solo gap. Even more amazingly, they let her take the lead position in the twisty run-in to the short finish straight. Van Gilder took the final sprint easily ahead of Bruno-Roy and Winfield. Van Gilder, who would be the runaway favorite for ‘rookie of the year’ if the designation existed in cyclocross, has commented many times that one of her favorite parts of cyclocross is the mental aspect. When asked how that came into play tactically, she responded, “It’s a very short finish here, and it would be very hard to come from behind. I judged that the area where we passed the pits for the last time would be the right place to make my move.”
The UCI Men’s race combined the best parts of both the Women’s and Elite Master’s races. Like the Masters, an early break of five riders went away. But like the Women, it turned into a three-way shootout. Tyler Wren (Colivita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light) and Justin Spinelli (RGM Watches / Richard Sachs / The Boathouse) were joined by the previous day’s runner-up Adam McGrath (Van Dessel), who had come east to represent his New Jersey based sponsor in the four major New Jersey races this month. Wren attacked on the finish line road secton 15 minutes into the race. Riding like a man trying to get to the tax office because his taxes were due, Wren established a large gap over the next lap and a half. But controlled riding by Spinelli gradually closed the gap until Wren made a mistake, dropped his chain and fell behind. Faced with a gap of about a quarter mile, and nothing to lose since he’s not pursuing points, Wren launched an even bigger acceleration and rode like he was being chased by the authorities because his taxes were past due. With Spinelli doing the majority of the work up front, Wren amazingly was able to close the gap on the two leaders.
By this time, McGrath’s tactics were becoming obvious, stay second wheel behind whoever was leading at the time. After a lap a slower pace that allowed him to recover, Wren again attacked coming onto the paved home straight. McGrath seemed to have anticipated the move, however, and went with him, again staying second wheel. This allowed Spinelli to catch up and counter attack, again with McGrath following. Wren was suddenly 30 meters behind and, despite more frantic riding, was never able to make contact again. On the final lap, McGrath attacked in exactly the same place that Laura Van Gilder had made her move in the Women’s race, and rode to his first MAC Powered by SRAM victory. Spinelli was circumspect in defeat, “Tyler is riding really fast right now and Adam seemed to be clawing his way back on every time Tyler or I did something. And the one time that Adam made his move was the right time. It was probably the only time he hit the front, but he crossed the line first and I guess that’s what matters today.”
The MAC Powered by SRAM travels next to Long Island for two days of UCI C1 action at the Whitmore’s Landscaping Super Cross Cup on November 22 and 23.