LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – 460 racers, many in costume, tasted the sweetness of the 2013 World Cyclocross Championship venue at Papa John’s Storm Eva Bandman Halloween Cross OVCX #5 this past Sunday, 28th in Louisville. Cheered on by skeletons, French maids, and piggy-back blow up dolls (see photos), Ryan Knapp (The Pony Shop) and Katie Arnold (Bob’s Red Mill) scared up wins in the Elite Men’s and Women’s races respectively. Both are showing incredible strength going into this coming weekend’s big 3-day UCI event, the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati.
It was hectic start for Knapp. Only his 2nd race of the OVCX series, he once again started in the back but it wasn’t as easy as last time. Compared to the smaller fields last week in Bloomington, Louisville’s Elite field was deep. Nearly 60 strong, Knapp was patient making strong passes where safe and holding back through the tight twists, dips and run-ups of the course along the Ohio River. “I just couldn’t find any space to move up without being a jerk and pushing people out of the way, so it took me 15-20 minutes to get to the front group,” said Knapp after the race. Once I got to the group (with Robert Kendall-Papa John’s Racing Team and Andrew Reardon-Bob’s Red Mill), I sat on the back for a lap to recover…then attacked into one of the longer headwind sections. I got a gap, but had to put in a few laps a full gas to make it stick.” Reardon wasn’t going to give up easy and forced Knapp to the rivet to free himself from the train. Eventually Knapp found enough distance to feel comfortable snagging a few dollar hand-ups from the colorful costumed characters lining the course. Knapp added, “It was nice to get a win, and a great warm-up for the big show this weekend at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival.”
Before the Women’s Elite Race, Arnold and her coach, Tony Viton, talked strategy about the course’s long straights and increasing wind from incoming Hurricane Sandy. According to Arnold, “the plan was to sit in, and not go too early.” Aside from the windy straights, the course offered a stone run-up nicknamed “Stonehenge,” a sand pit, and a couple of punchy climbs. When the whistle blew, it was AnnaJean Dallaire (Papa John’s Racing) who took the hole-shot and assumed the lead for the first lap. True to her coach, Arnold sat patiently on Dallaire’s wheel even as the women threaded through the tail end of the Cat 3 Men (on course at the same time.) Popping out of the woods near the end of the lap, Arnold pounced on a long grassy off-camber straightaway parallel to the paved finish. “I just put my head down, pedaled hard through that section, and opened up a gap,” Arnold confided after the race. “As the race went on, the better my legs felt and the bigger the gap grew.” Arnold would take the win, followed by Dallaire and Ashley James (KCCX-Fuji p/b Challenge Tires.)
Congratulations to the Papa John’s Racing Team’s dynamic junior duo of Nicholas Bierne and Will Bobrow with their great showings in the junior racers earlier in the day. Both boys remain undefeated in the respective 13-14 and 10-12 categories.
Which brings us to this week’s Zipp OVCX Athletes of the week: Nicholas Beirne (Papa John’s Racing Team) and Whitney Burdzilauskas (Team Nebo Ridge). Because of their performances during Storm Eva Bandman and previous weeks, both will have the opportunity to race on Zipp Firecrest 303 Tubular Wheels this weekend at the Cincy3 Cyclocross Festival in Cincinnati.
The OVCX Series is presented by Zipp, Papa John’s Pizza, RoadID, BikeReg and Capitol Bicycles.free digital issue of Cyclocross Magazine here.