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by Ken Getchell and Jacob Sisson
October 10, 2009; Middletown, OH, USA: While the muck and mud from day one of the UCI3 Cyclocross Festival were absent from day two, the winners from day one were not. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld) and Katie Compton (Planet Bike) were once again unstoppable even with the day’s dryer conditions.
The Cincinnati UCI3 Festival moved north to the pocket-sized Sunset Park in Middletown, Ohio for the Java Johnny’s – Lionhearts International today; and Friday’s winners once again delivered an old-fashioned whoopin’ at cyclocross racing’s version of baseball’s Wrigley Field. Sunset Park is a neighborhood park surrounded by houses. At first glance, most racers would never consider it large enough for even a small grass roots race, let alone as part of one of the richest UCI race weekends on the U.S. calendar. The park is so small that, even at less than full power, the two-speaker PA system could be heard well outside the borders of the park; and virtually all parking for the event was on the streets in front of the Colonial and Ranch houses that make up the surrounding neighborhood. But Doug Dobrozsi and the Queen City Wheels (which sounds a lot like a ’70’s musical act) took the tiny green plot and once again crafted an old-school cyclocross course. With lots of tight turns, few straights of even moderate length, and other old-time features like a high-speed plank barrier section, the course was fun to ride and the tight confines and easy access encouraged camaraderie amongst spectators. Also contributing to the general good mood was the notably improved weather over the previous day’s mud-bath in Covington.
As she did yesterday, Sue Butler (Monavie Cannondale) out-gunned National Champion Katie Compton (Planet Bike/Stevens) at the start of the UCI Elite Women’s race and led until the up-and-back beach volleyball section about one-minute into the race. While Butler rode through the section with no difficulty, Compton skimmed across the top of the sand with such speed that onlookers were bewildered. 90 seconds into the race, as they crossed the finish line following the prologue section, Compton had a 14 second lead over Butler. Behind Butler was a large gap that developed when Dee Dee Winfield (C3 – Athletes Serving Athletes) bobbled in the sand and everybody else stacked-up behind her.
The race for the win was already essentially over as Compton just powered away from everybody for the remainder of the race. The only thing that interrupted her machine-like composure were a group of fun-loving hecklers who made her laugh while loudly imploring her to, “slow down more, you’re making the race boring!”
Afterward, “Compton would comment that she really did enjoy the moment and that part of the reason she was so relaxed was because, in her words, “this track is so much fun!”
Meanwhile, Butler rode her own race to maintain a gap over the three-way chase group behind her that contained Winfield, Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten) and Laura Van Gilder (C3- Athletes Serving Athletes). “We all knew when we came here that we were racing for second place,” said a happy Butler after the race.
Winfield, Howe and Van Gilder stayed together for nearly the entire race, with Winfield seeming to be slightly faster through the sand, but not enough to make a break. Just before crossing the line on the bell lap, Van Gilder went over the handlebars and flipped into the sand. Quickly back on her feet, Van Gilder chased down the other two riders and then passed straight by them.
“I had the momentum, so I used it,” she would say afterward. “I didn’t want them to think that I was just flailing back there. I wanted to get to the sand first on the last lap because I knew even if I made a mistake there, I could probably hold them up and keep them behind me.” Van Gilder did get to the sand first, but did not make another mistake and took the third-place position. Behind her, teammate Winfield outsprinted Howe for fourth.
Before the Men’s race, it was learned the Ryan Trebon (Kona) was still sore after impaling his calf on his chainring during the previous day’s race. At the start, Jeremy Powers (CyclocrossWorld.com/Cannondale) and Barry Wicks (Kona) outsprinted the field from opposite sides of the front row, with Wicks taking the front spot. Powers, though, would take the lead and make friends of the crowd when he unexpectedly bunny-hopped the barriers on the first lap, gapping Wicks and the rest of the field.
Trebon, Wicks and the season’s new revelation, Mark LaLonde of Planet bike, made up the first chase group, while Ryan Knapp (BikeReg.com), Brian Matter (Gear Grinder), Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles) and Troy Wells (Clif Bar) comprised the second chase. Trebon tried to bridge the gap to Powers, then fell back through the chase groups before disappearing, literally, from the race.
Powers continued to extend his lead, bunny-hopping the barriers every lap. More subtle, but perhaps more important, were Powers’ cornering lines. On some of the tight hairpin corners, Powers was noticeably faster, and in some cases was able to pedal all the way around where every other racer was coasting. On the last lap, Powers not only bunny-hopped the barriers, he popped a wheelie to salute the crowd as he rolled another two-thirds of a lap to his second victory in two days.
Wicks attacked LaLonde on the asphalt start straight to establish a gap that he held to the end. When LaLonde was asked what he thought when Wicks attacked, he smiled and said, “Ouch!” The second chase group, now without Knapp, stayed together until the last minutes of the race when Joachim Parbo gutted out another race to finish fourth ahead of Matter.
Afterwards, Powers as asked about the obvious difference in cornering speeds between himself and others. At first surprised because he didn’t realize there was such a difference, but then he pointed to his Cannondale.
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Elite Women’s Brief Results
1. Katie Compton (Planet Bike)
2. Susan Butler (Monavie-Cannondale.com)
3. Laura Van Gilder (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
4. Deidre Winfield (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
5. Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten)
6. Kaitlin Antonneau (Planet Bike)
7. Linda Sone (Planet Bike)
8. Kristin Wentworth (Planet Bike)
9. Kimberly Flynn (Vantaggio/Specialized)
10. Nicole Borem (DRT Consulting)
Elite Men’s Brief Results
1. Jeremy Powers (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld)
2. Barry Wicks (Kona)
3. Mark LaLonde (Planet Bike)
4. Joachim Parbo (CCV Leopard Cycles)
5. Brian Matter (Gear Grinder)
6. Troy Wells (Clif Bar)
7. Ryan Knapp (Panther/RGF p/b Felt Cycles)
8. Andrew Wulfkuhle (C3 Athletes Serving Athletes)
9. Mitchell Kersting (Rapid Transit Racing)
10. Greg Wittwer (ALAN North America Cycling Team)