by Kenton Berg
MFG Cyclocross presented by Raleigh kicked off their fourth race of the season, Raceway Cross, at Marymoor velodrome in Redmond, WA with some slip-sliding racing. Following two days of rain, the morning’s racers were treated to a course that had several long, fast sections worked in amongst some greasy off-cambers. A fan favorite was the right hand turn into the short stair section which took riders up the outer velodrome embankment. The turn was greasy, the stairs were slick, and bodies were flying as soon as the first group hit this spot. With clearing skies and warmer temps throughout the day the grease factor would subside and the racing would heat up.
The women’s elite field took to the course in the late morning and it was very quickly a five horse race
for the day’s top honors. Jenni Gaertner (Raleigh), Mel Lewis (CycleU/Pop Cap), Beth Lyndon-Griffith (Recycled Cycles), Jessica Cutler (Cucina Fresca) and Natasha Hernday (Mafia Racing) broke away from the group and quickly had a 20 second gap. Lea Stralka (Ragnorak) would dangle just outside that top group as she put on a hard chase followed by Kristi Berg (CycleU/Pop Cap) who broke a chain in the start straight and had her work cut out to get back in game. Following the opening lap Gaertner began to stretch out an advantage while Lewis hung in second, working to limit her losses and keep the chasers at bay. The dog fight of the day was just behind them as Hernday, Cutler, and Lyndon-Griffith were all within seconds of each other throughout the race and were gaining slightly on every lap to bring back Lewis. Gaertner took the win by just under one minute over Lewis as Cutler clawed her way into third finishing just six seconds back of Lewis. The next four ladies coming in were only separated by 12 seconds, showing how tight this women’s field is this year.
The warmest temps of the day and a much drier course greeted the men’s elite field, and they wasted no time in putting down the hammer. As we’ve seen all year a small group escaped early, leaving the rest of the field strung out in pursuit. This week’s group consisted of Logan Owen (Redline), Steve Fisher (Revel Consulting/Rad Racing), Gian Dalle (Rio Blanco), Spencer Paxson (Kona) and Carson Miller (HSP/Untouched World). The five making up this rabbit group traded pulls and attacks for several laps before Dalle took a spill into the fence on the backside of the course and called it a day. As the final four riders wound their way around the course, it looked to be a situation where one bobble might make the difference in getting a gap or not. As the last lap approached Miller was the first to be shed, leaving Paxson to face off with the young guns Owen and Fisher. By the final few turns Paxson was unable to hold on and Owen and Fisher fought it out for the win. The final corner leading to the finish straight was where Owen got in front and gained the tactical position he needed to sprint away from Fisher, giving himself time to sit up and look back as he confirmed his win. Paxson rolled in a further twelve seconds down to solidify the last podium place.
Post-race Owen stated that this was retribution for last week’s terrible race, saying “I really wanted this win after such a bad race last weekend, it was very frustrating having bike issues.”
MFG Cyclocross race number five will commence next Saturday at Magnuson Park in Seattle. More info on the series and its sponsors can be found at www.mfgcyclocross.com.