By Kelly Clarke
Race four of the Chicago Cyclocross Cup (CCC) offered a brand new venue at Randall Oaks Park in West Dundee, IL. Main Street Bicycles Sasquatch Squadron, known for their pump track and corn maze course features at previous events relied this time on natural features to create a flowy course with lots of elevation changes, a run-up, and loose off-camber corners. Members of the Sasquatch Squadron race team accompanied a live band that played alongside the course next to a live fire pit. Kenny Labbé, announcer for the series and former member of the U.S. Postal Service Team, aired colorful race commentary at the other end of the course.
Elite Women: Sydney Guagliardo Keeps it Clean to Win Solo
In the Women’s Elite race, Maria Larkin (Chicago Cuttin Crew) set a blazing pace in the first lap. Sydney Guagliardo (PSIMET Racing) followed, unsure she could maintain that speed for the remainder of the race. But Guagliardo felt good, and after a few laps she passed Larkin with an aggressive acceleration that garnered a vocal reaction from the crowd. Larkin committed to staying on Guagliardo’s wheel, as she led with clean lines and even pace. With less than a lap to go Larkin slid out in a corner, leaving an irredeemable gap. Recovering as quickly as she could, Larkin saw Alijah Beatty (NorthStar Development) in her peripheral and knew she had to keep the pace hot. “With the ground being so loose, you can’t carry too much speed through the corners,” Larkin commented after the race.
Sydney Guagliardo won her first Women’s Elite race of the 2015 CCC (she raced with the men earlier in the season due to scheduling conflicts). Guagliardo was the 2014 CCC Series Overall Winner and 2014 Illinois State CX Champion, but chalked up this win to luck. “It was a good day to have a good day,” she explained.
Larkin, clinching second place, was upset with her fumble, losing a chance to vie for victory, but more so losing the opportunity for a ‘throw down.’ She’s working hard to make races exciting to watch. A major goal is to give spectators a show, noting the CCC’s Elite Men’s race the previous week where the race came down to a five-up sprint. Her efforts this week were rewarded with a Pactimo series leader jersey.
Sixteen year old Alijah Beatty from Washington, IA added a third place finish to her already impressive cyclocross and road palmares. Other local juniors decided to test themselves amongst the elite ranks. Fifteen year old Ella Neurohr (Chicago Cuttin Crew) had a productive first race with the elites, finishing 13/34. With news of Kaitlin Antonneau’s success at the Valkenburg World Cup, people are excited to see another crop of strong juniors competing locally. Antonneau comes from Racine, WI, an hour north of Chicago, and many saw her race locally as a junior.
Elite Men: Michael Dutczak Breaks Away in Final Corners for First Elite Win
The Elite Men’s race also had a fiery start with Matthew Schweiker (Heritage Race Club) quickly gaining a sizable lead. Grinning ear to ear, he blazed around the course, knowing the off-camber track played to his strengths. Having not yet seen the top five this year, fans shouted jokingly, “Schweiker, what are you doing?!”
Michael Dutczak (EGO p/b Sammy’s Bikes) was focused on catching Schweiker, but cautious to not burn all of his matches as he chased with David Reyes (Heritage Race Club) on his heels. “It was definitely tactical. I race against these guys on the road. Having two teammates right there, I had to make sure I didn’t let one go and also that I didn’t pull one back to the other,” he explained after the race.
Dutczak brought the three together after a bad corner by the leader. Now it was two against one in a discipline that rarely sees teamwork at play. Dutczak concentrated on going as hard as he could while saving a little bit for a hopefully explosive finish. The course was designed by racers with backgrounds in BMX and mountain biking, and those with similar backgrounds – Dutczak and Schweiker – excelled here. Dutczak played his cards right and was able to break away in the final corners of the race. He had enough of a lead to post up and enjoy his first cyclocross win at the elite level. Matthew Schweiker came across the line next, with David Reyes right behind him.
A lot of hard work went into these performances, and the whole podium beamed with pride. Schweiker had dealt with misfortune earlier in the series. In the previous race alone, he contended with four mechanicals in the sixty minute race (still finishing in 12/42). He was finally able to find his rhythm on this course that was almost identical to the first cross race he ever did in St.Louis, which incidentally also had a petting zoo on the premise. David Reyes held onto the series leader jersey. Twenty-two year old Michael Dutczak celebrated his win by cheering on his fourteen year old brother, Mitchell, in the Men’s Category 4 race.
Race five of the CCC, ABD Sunrise Park, historically favors the roadies and features the infamous and original ‘Heckle Hill’. Find more information on www.chicrosscup.com.