CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Compared to yesterday’s surprise snow storm, the elite racers started in perfect conditions today. Arley Kemmerer (C3) redeemed herself after a fourth place finish yesterday, finishing in front of Amanda Carey and Emily Shields. In the men’s race, Jeremy Powers wasn’t on the start line, but Jonathan Page found his way to the front row. However, Jamey Driscoll was the real story of the day, attacking mid-race and building a gap that would give him the win with a large gap on second place, Tim Johnson, followed by the other success story of the day, North Carolina racer Robert Marion.
Arley Kemmerer snatched the holeshot and the early lead, working with Amanda Carey at the front of the group of racers. The small field – 12 deep – stayed almost entirely together for the first lap, but Kemmerer’s dig at the front split the group quickly. She and Carey continued to work together at the front until, according to Carey, a crash took her down and caused her chain to seize, losing precious seconds on Kemmerer. “Amanda had a crash on the back stretch, and luckily today I was on the right side and didn’t go down too,” Kemmerer said.
With three to go, Kemmerer’s lead had increased considerably, and Carey had a large gap between herself and the women battling for third place. Among them were the Shields sisters from North Carolina, and local racer Rebecca Blatt. A mechanical for one of the Shields took her out of contention for the podium, but allowed twin Emily to get a gap on the group and move up to Blatt’s wheel. The two duked it out as the race wound down, but a misstep on Blatt’s part on the barriers into the finishing straight allowed for Shields to come in for an uncontested third a few seconds after Carey sailed in for second.
Interview with Arley Kemmerer:
Interview with Amanda Carey:
Interview with Emily Shields:
The elite men’s race started at 3:30 as the sun began to slowly descend and temperatures dropped considerably as the wind picked up. Cody “Kid” Kaiser (CalGiant) snagged the holeshot, with the rest of the extremely elite field, including teammate Yannick Eckmann, Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld’s Jamey Driscoll and Tim Johnson, Jonathan Page, and a host of “working man pros” including Troy Wells, Brian Matter, Tristan Schouten and Ryan Knapp. Well-known masters racer Steve Tilford lined up at the start, as did cyclocross New England legend Adam Myerson.
A large lead group commanded control of the course, in a style much different from yesterday’s four man lead group. Kaiser drifted back a few spots, but Driscoll, Johnson, Page, Wells, Eckmann, Kerry Werner (BMC) and others hung together. Page and Driscoll traded off the front spot, neither of them willing to use up too many matches early in the race.
Matter took the lead, followed by Page, with the rest of the group still staying close behind. The course was much faster than yesterday’s slick and snowy ride, and lap times were considerably quicker. With 25 minutes of racing in the books, the riders were still seeing seven laps to go.
With six to go, Matter, Eckmann, Werner, Wells, Page, Driscoll and Johnson were together, with Robert Marion dangling off the back.
Behind them, a group with Tilford, Myerson and Aaron Bradford – on his 2012 National Single Speed winning Rock Lobster – chased. In the lead group, Marion attacked with five laps to go as the other racers were, as announcer Richard Fries said, “circling each other like animals.”
Marion’s attack was answered only by Driscoll, while the rest of the group stayed their course, seeing what would happen. Driscoll counter-attacked though, and flew off of the front, trying to do what he planned yesterday: take the win. With five to go, Driscoll, with Marion 10 seconds behind, developed an 18 second gap on the lead group, which was being headed by his teammate, Tim Johnson. Wells, realizing this, jumped to the front trying to close the gap.
Driscoll improved on his gap, making it up to 25 seconds on the field within the space of one lap. “They are playing volleyball with a grenade, and Jonathan Page is the grenade,” Richard Fries shouted between repetitions of, “It’s Driscoll, it’s Driscoll, it is Driscoll!”
Driscoll’s gap only increased, and Marion matched him as well, not letting the chase group get any closer to him as they entered two laps to go. In the chase group, Johnson attacked, making a move trying to secure third place. Page matched him, and the two began battling in earnest, not to catch Driscoll, but to secure third (or second) spot.
Going into one to go, Driscoll maintained his lead. Marion maintained second, and Johnson and Page worked together to close the gap on Marion, which tightened to a mere 12 seconds with one to go. “Oh, the humanity,” cried Fries. “Robert Marion is riding for all of us!”
By the first pit, the gap between Marion and Page and Johnson was closing fast, and the question became: could he hold them off? With a mere third of a lap to go, Johnson closed the gap and overpowered Marion for the second place spot, and Marion was able to hold off Page for third. Johnson later explained, “When I saw Jamey go, I knew he was gone … I hoped I could catch Marion on the last lap.”