LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY: Nikki Dallaire extended her unbelievable unbeaten streak and is still on track for another perfect Zipp OVCX presented by Papa John’s season with just two races to go, while Mitch Kersting is making a late-season run for the Elite Men’s title following Sunday’s Storm the Greens in Louisville. The points championships for Zipp OVCX appear to be intensifying just as the Midwest-based Tour takes its late-season “All-Star Break” for two weekends of UCI racing in Cincinnati and Louisville, before returning for the final two determining races for the 2011 points championships.
With her victory in this past Sunday’s Storm the Greens at the World Championship venue at Louisville’s Eva Bandman Park, Nikki Dallaire has extended her unbeaten streak and cemented her place as the most dominant rider in the history of the Zipp OVCX Tour. Dallaire’s unbeaten streak now extends for a full calendar year, with Sunday’s race taking place exactly 365 days since the streak started at last year’s Storm the Greens. With the victory, Dallaire, who races for team Racin’ for Riley presented by Alderfer Bergen, is also just one win away from a second consecutive perfect score in the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s season points championship.
Somewhat overshadowed by Dallaire’s exploits, the Elite Men of the Zipp OVCX Tour are engaged in a points chase that May not be decided until the final lap of the final race of the season. Defending Champion Mitch “Grand MitchMaster Flash” Kersting (Bob’s Red Mill) won his second consecutive race at Storm the Greens, bringing his total to three Zipp OVCX wins for the season. Despite his success, Kersting currently sits seventh in the point standings, the result of a number of missed races earlier in the season. The championship chase is currently led by Kersting’s Bob’s Red Mill teammate, and 2010 season runner-up, Rob Kendall. Teenager Luke Haley (Red Zone), Ray Smith (Bob’s Red Mill) and Adam Rodkey (Speedway Wheelmen) are all within striking distance of the points lead. But Kersting’s late-season form puts him close to the edge and poised for a rally toward his second consecutive Zipp OVCX presented by Papa John’s season championship, despite his relatively low current position on the points table if he doesn’t lose his head. In Zipp OVCX, riders only count their top seven scores and Kersting has (by far) the best average score per race of all the championship contenders with five solid scores and two races remaining. And, unlike the points leaders who already have a full set of scoring races and can only improve their scores incrementally, if at all; 100% of Kersting’s points tally from the final two races will be applied to his season total, setting up a charge-from-behind final sprint scenario.
However, there could be a joker in the deck for the Elite Men. Shawn Adams of CycleSmart is lurking in fifth place in the season championship with only six races to his credit so far. If Adams matches his average finish position at the next race in Lexington, Kentucky on November 20, he could be in second place heading into the finale in Cincinnati on December 4.
The Zipp OVCX Masters divisions are also competitive. In the Elite Masters Men’s 35+, only three points separate Micah Fritzinger (Schellers Fitness and Cycling) and Brian Schworm (Pedal Power Cycling), with a number of other riders in contention. The rider to watch, however, may be Indiana’s Andy Messer of DRT racing. In a nearly identical scenario to that of Mitch Kersting in the Elite Men, Messer sits in seventh place in the standings with a two race winning streak, only five races scored so far and the highest points per race average of any of the championship contenders, most of whom already have a full box of seven scored races to their credit. Meanwhile, Fred Rose of BikeReg.com has a commanding one-hundred point lead in the Elite Masters 45+ division
In the Women’s Elite Masters Division, three riders from Bio-Wheels/Reece Campbell Construction occupy the top four positions in the standings. Geraldine Schulze leads teammate Malissa Petrov by just ten points, while Scheller’s Race Team’s Kiersta Tucker is in striking distance in third place just 39 points behind the leader.
The Zipp OVCX Elite U19 Juniors titles are also still up for grabs. Of the two, the Women’s race is the closest and is something of an interstate varsity match race between two riders representing the region’s two big Junior-oriented clubs. Katherine Santos of Louisville’s Red Zone Cycling leads Rachel Dobrozsi of Cincinnati’s Queen City Wheelmen/Lionhearts by just 46 points. The two young ladies are the only two riders still in the running for the season championship. If the Women’s U19 championship is like a varsity shootout, the Men’s U19 has the feel of an intramural contest as all of the contenders for the Zipp OVCX U19 championship represent Red Zone Cycling. Leading the pack with both the most points and the highest points per race average is Nick Dietrich.
Following the All-Star Break for Cincinnati’s UCI3 Cyclocross Festival (November 4, 5 and 6), and the Louisville rounds of the USGP (November 12 and 13), the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s returns to action with races in Kentucky and Ohio. On November 20, the Promotion Cross will see the ’cross competitors invade Lexington, Kentucky for the penultimate round of the 2011 Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s in races that also serve as the Kentucky State Championships. As is traditional, the race is open to all competitors, with State Championships being awarded to the best-placing Kentucky residents in each category.
Then, on December 4, the Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s will close out its season with the King’s CX near Cincinnati, Ohio. With most of the points races still too close to call, Kings CX (which, ironically, was last year’s season opener) will be instrumental in determining this year’s Zipp OVCX Tour presented by Papa John’s season points.