The masses pour down the start stretch in early morning action. © Janet Hill
by Kenton Berg
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Cool temperatures, darkening skies, and a fast, tacky race course was the order of the day for the final race of the 2012 MFG Cyclocross Series. With overall series wins on the line in many of the categories the racing was already primed for a contentious day, but add in huge crowds and a fast course and the action was brought to a new level. Woodland Park, the iconic setting just north of downtown Seattle, has been the scene of all four season-ending races in the MFG series and has traditionally seen some of the biggest crowds and racer turnouts of all local races. This year was no exception as Terry Buchanan, co-founder of the MFG series, noted that 1126 racers took part on the day. This number represents a near doubling of the racer count from the introductory year of MFG in 2009 and is a testament to the product the folks at MFG have delivered since first introducing their series to the cyclocross-crazy Seattle scene.
The kids show off their start line intensity. © Janet Hill
After massive fields worked over the course in the early races the Elite Women came to the line with Kari Studley (Redline) and Emily Eggers (Blue Rooster) locked in a dead heat for first place in the series. Looming just 6 points behind was Mel Lewis (CycleU/PopCap) and her teammate Kristin Kelsey was lurking just 12 points back. With a trip to the famed “prize table” at stake there was a lot to race for. From the onset the pace was high and game faces were on as Kelsey took the hole shot and pushed the pace from there. Studley, Kelsey, Lewis, Daniel, Lea Stralka (Ragnarok), and Eggers were all present at the laps wound through. On lap 3, Studley’s chances at the overall took a hit as she would slash a tire and would have to run for the pits. Daniel and Lewis would push the pace and move ahead with Stralka chasing not too far behind. Daniel would go on to claim the top spot with a strong ride on the day, Lewis would take second and Stralka third. Studley would rally from her mechanical to take fourth which enabled her to score enough points to hold off the other contenders and seal an overall series win.
Tyler Farrar, Newt McGrath, Steve Fisher and Kevin Noiles jump off the line. © Janet Hill
On the Men’s side of the equation the day would start with the series still wide open. Going into this final race Kyle McGilvray (Old Town Bicycle) held a slim 12 point lead over Steve Fisher (Hagens Berman p/b Raleigh) and Spencer Paxson (Kona). With Paxson not in attendance the other potential threat would be Kevin Noiles (CyclocrossRacing.com) who was 22 points back. If McGilvray could muster the ride of his life and have some luck with others falling out the series could be his, but history was not on his side, nor Noiles’, as neither had beaten Fisher this year and a win by Fisher would net him the title. To add to the days drama local Pro Tour rider Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) would line up on the front row and look to put some pressure on the contenders. Coming off of a solid ride in Bellingham last weekend Farrar couldn’t be counted out as a potential threat, but the day was not to be his. From the gun Fisher showed he was going to be a tough one to beat as he marked Noiles and had teammate Newt McGrath there in the mix in case team tactics needed to be played. With Fisher and Noiles pushing the pace the chase group of Toby Swanson (Eatonville Outdoor), Logan Wetzel (Second Ascent), McGrath, Phil Grove (Hammer Nutrition), Benji Perrin (Second Ascent) and Chris Ellis (Voler/Bicycle Center) would continue to work to make up ground, but would not see the leaders again. Fisher would not relent to the pressure Noiles would put on and would go on to take the win, along with the overall series title, with another very strong ride. Noiles would have to settle for second and Swanson would have a solid day to take the final podium spot.
With the conclusion of the MFG Cyclocross series races we move on the the season ending awards party on Thursday night at Hales Palladium in Ballard, Washington.
For full results visit www.mfgcyclocross.com
Kristin Kelsey takes the hole shot in the Elite Women’s race. © Janet Hill