Race Preview: Gran Prix of Gloucester Kicks off Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series
With CrossVegas, Interbike, and the first USGP launching us into the 2012 cyclocross season, we now know a few things: Jeremy Powers knows how to represent the stars and stripes; Timothy Johnson and Jonathan Page aren’t too old to learn a few new tricks; Katie Compton still loves to ride alone; and the Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld vs. Rapha-Focus rivalry is alive and well. With that, we turn to Gloucester and one of the biggest weekends in New England cyclocross racing: Holy Week of Cyclocross, which kicked off with the Midnight Ride of Cross yesterday, and will be followed by the Gran Prix of Gloucester, the first in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series, taking place this Saturday and Sunday.
The race—C1 on Saturday, C2 on Sunday—promises not to disappoint: with forecasts calling for weekend rain, the seaside course at Stage Fort Park just might give us the first true ’cross conditions of the season. [Don't miss: A look back in photos at Gloucester 10 years ago - the Saturn Supercup Photo Gallery on Cyclocross Magazine's Facebook Page]
Last year, the men’s elite race was an exciting showdown between Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and Swiss national champion Christian Heule (Cannondale-cyclocrossworld). On the wet course, the opening salvos saw the lead change many times, but it was Powers and Heule who won the race of attrition, as the pair headed into the final lap alone. Heule got the jump on Powers up the final climb, and crossed the line a few bike lengths ahead. Powers was able to turn the tables the next day, bridging a long-standing gap to Tim Johnson and coming out on top in the resulting duel. With Heule retired at the end of last season, and Powers having dominated the past two stateside C1 races, the Rapha-Focus rider looks well situated to take the top step this weekend. If, that is, he can hold off a hard charging Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld team, led by a back-on-form Tim Johnson and the always dangerous Ryan Trebon – not to mention the rest of the stampede, such as Ben Berden and Jonathan Page, who are eager to tally a win and get some of those precious UCI points. [ed. note: the official start list has not yet been made available].On the women’s side, last year was the Helen Wyman Show, starring the British national champion in her debut US appearance. Wyman hit the course hard, immediately putting the pressure on a deep group of racers that included Gabby Day, Kaitlin Antonneau, and Laura van Guilder. As the race unfolded, only Nicole Duke and Andrea Smith proved able to wrestle with the Brit, though neither were ultimately able to unseat her. Wyman had so much fun last year duking it out on US soil that she’s decided to come back and do it again. Look for all three podium finishers to return ready to take up their battle once again.
Be sure to check back in this weekend for a full report, racer interviews, and photos!
To further whet your appetite, check out this video of the 2011 Gran Prix Gloucester, by Mark Lovett:
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