Sunday saw similarly gorgeous race conditions, and the festivities were in full swing on Day 2 of Nittany Lion Cyclocross.
The UCI Elite Woman took to the starting grid on a day where the conditions were “short sleeves and high speeds” and extremely dusty. After Helen Wyman’s walk away win on day one, fans and racers alike expected more of the same. Gabriella Day (Rapha-Focus) grabbed the high speed holeshot and lead the women into “the pit”, but it was Helen Wyman (Kona) who used the rough and rutted section to make the pass on her fellow Brit. Wyman quickly went to work trying to open up a gap on Day, Van Gilder(Mellow Mushroom), Christel Ferrier-Bruneau (Beziers Mediterrane Cyclisme) and Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes).
The early pace was extremely fast, and it was Helen Wyman who made the mistake, she tumbled into the barriers in the very early going, thus ending her day and leaving the UCI win up for grabs. Gabriella Day appeared to be dictating the pace to the other three women, who by the mid-way point, had established themselves as the win contenders. The action heated up when the bell was rung signaling the last lap. Bruneau attacked and moved to the front of the four woman pack, only Day and Van Guilder could answer as Kemmerer was unhitched.
Keeping the pressure on, Bruneau lead into the log barrier and the following top half of the course. She was able to just inch away as Van Gilder made a move on Day to move into the second position. As the three women came flying into the fast finish line section, it was Christel Ferrier-Bruneau taking the win and holding off the hard charging duo of Van Gilder and Day, with Van Gilder snatching up second.
Check out our interview with second place champ Laura Van Gilder:
In the men’s race, Jared Nieters (Haymarket) surprised the crowd taking the sprint finish over Brad White. Craig Richey rolled in solo for third.
Nieters gave us a rundown from the front of the fast and furious race, after the holeshot was taken by yesterday’s second place finisher, Jeremy Durrin (JAM Fund). “The first two laps were hectic with a huge group of guys jockeying to make the selection,” Nieters reflected, and he was right. When racers hit the ride/run-up followed by a mostly bunny-hop-able log, the first few into it had no trouble but the cluster of racers jammed into the runup after the first group was hectic and dangerous. Durrin had a mechanical early on, forcing him to run to the pit, leaving him well behind his normal spot at the front of the field.
“I hovered between third and ninth when Wes went to the front to run tempo,” Nieters explains, “With Wes in first, I went to second wheel to allow him a little gap and force a chase from Brad White and Craig Ritchey.”
“White attacked with about four to go and I was able to cover. We were away for two laps with the Ritchey, Dewald, Schempf trio in chase.” Dewald and Schempf are Nieters teammates, but as most are quick to point out, there are rarely “teammates” in cyclocross.” With 2.5 to go, Wes was attempting to bridge when I crashed. I got up from the crash and was with Wes. We were about seven seconds back as we crossed the start/finish with two to go. Once I saw the gap wasn’t coming down, I decided to go all in.”
“It took me over a lap to cover White’s seven-second lead. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I had nothing to lose and wanted to redeem myself from my mishap on Saturday. (White is an outstanding roadie, and is tough) but I caught him with about a half-lap to go in the roots. I knew I wanted to attack for the win in the open section in the field, confident that it’d be hard to come around in the section after the barriers. I passed him and stayed on the gas everywhere I could, and hit the final turn with a small gap. It was pretty satisfying, having come back from last season, which was ended early by Lyme Disease.”