U23 Racer Zach McDonald takes the overall win at Day 2 of Providence. Todd Prekaski

In 2012, Zach McDonald took the win at Day 2 of Providence. © Todd Prekaski

The grand finale of New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross will explode with fast-paced action this weekend, October 4th, 5th, and 6th, at the Providence Cyclocross Festival. This newly expanded event is truly a festival of cyclocross, with new singlespeed races, Madison team races, and fat tire races on Friday, October 4th. Prior to Friday’s races, the Luna Chix offer a women’s cyclocross clinic, and the star coaches of Cycle-Smart, Adam Myerson and Alec Donahue, will hold a skills clinic for novice racers. Also on Friday, the ballroom at downtown Providence’s Biltmore Hotel will host the New England Builders’ Ball, showcasing the finest craftsmanship in bicycle frames. PCF boasts record numbers of registrants for the weekend races in 2013, where spectators, racers, and their families will enjoy exploring the expo area and everything the food trucks have to offer.

In the Elite races, there will be fireworks as the best of the best race for points in the Elite Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge and in the USA Cycling Pro CX series. In fact, the top five men and women in the current ProCX standings will be in Providence this weekend. Jeremy Powers (Rapha-FOCUS), former US National Cyclocross champion and last year’s Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series winner will be there to defend his lead in the 2013 series. There to challenge him will be Jamey Driscoll (Raleigh Clement), Tim Johnson (Cannondale Cyclocross World/Pony Shop) and teammate Ryan Trebon (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com), all of whom shared the podium with Powers during the two days of the Gran Prix of Gloucester last weekend. Other contenders for the crown include Ben Berden (Raleigh Clement) and new kid on the block Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria). Each will arrive in Providence very motivated to earn UCI C1 points and the higher-level of ProCX series points that accompanies this prestigious category of race.

The star of the Elite women’s race will most certainly be the astonishing nine-time US National Cyclocross Champion Katie Compton, who will recognize the setting of the Providence Cyclocross Festival from the 2005 and 2006 US National Cyclocross Championship races. Compton’s rare appearance in New England is a special treat for spectators of PCF, as well as a special challenge for European Cyclocross champion Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Racing). Lining up with them are Gabby Durrin (Rapha-FOCUS), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized), and Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies). Current Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series frontrunner Elle Anderson (Cal Giant Berry Farms/Specialized) is having a stellar season this year, with four wins in a row, including two at the Gran Prix of Gloucester last weekend.

This weekend’s racing isn’t just for the top-level elite racers, however. PCF is a part of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the premier amatuer series in the US, where battles continue in eight categories of racing. Peter Goguen (Race CF) of the talented Goguen dynasty holds the lead in the Juniors 15-18 category, while Sam Noel (1K To Go – Onion River Sports) holds the most points in the Junior boys 10-14 division; however, Philip Hempstead (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) is gaining on Noel after two straight wins at Gloucester. Hempstead’s teammates lead two other categories:  Stephen Pierce is in front for the category 3 men and Alec Donahue is crushing the 35+ Masters. Gabrielle Czerula (ENGVT) has a solid grip on the Junior girls 10-14 category. Young Melissa Seib (Bikeman.com) looks like a strong bet in the Amateur women’s division, with Alissa Allegrini (Nantucket Velo) holding the Amatuer Masters women lead. In Masters men’s categories, Roger Asphlom (Fincroft Cycling Team) leads the 45+ and Al Blanchard (Blue Ribbon Restaurants) the 55+.

The Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge is just heating up for the elite racers, while racing for the Verge New England Cyclocross Series crowns in eight amateur categories also continues all season long. Next up in both NEPCX and Verge NECXS calendars is the Cycle-Smart International, the oldest UCI cyclocross race in the US, bringing world-class racing to quaint Northampton, MA on November 2 & 3.

On the weekend of November 30, the Verge NECXS makes a stop at Bay State Cyclocross, bringing explosive action to this notorious race course in Sterling, MA.

The New England cyclocross season culminates as racers converge at the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross on December 7 & 8 in Warwick, RI. Not only an exciting weekend of racing, this event is the final reckoning in the season-long competition for Elite and Amateur championship in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge and the Verge New England Cyclo-Cross Series. Learn more about these two prestigious series at www.nepcx.com and http://cycle-smart.com/necxs.