WARWICK, Rhode Island – A very successful 2008 campaign will conclude on the shores of Goddard Park in Warwick, Rhode Island as the 2008 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series comes to a close this weekend. Over 850 riders are expected to compete in 2 days of racing with different motivations; some celebrating the end to a great fall campaign, some are getting ready for the upcoming national championships, and some are looking to score podium positions in the overall 2008 Verge series.

The men’s races this weekend should be a coronation of one of the best seasons in recent New England series history, that of 1st year elite rider Jamey Driscoll (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com). He swept each of the 7 under 23 races last season; and if he garners the 2 expected wins this weekend, he will have scored 8 UCI wins in his 2008 campaign. Driscoll’s lead of 96 points over Matt White (BikeReg.com/Joe’s Garage) is fairly insurmountable; all Driscoll needs to do is score a 9th place finish or better on either day to lock up the championship. White’s steady season to date, finishing no worse than 8th at a series event this year, should hold on to his 2nd place overall standing while a fight for 3rd overall will be waged between Justin Lindine (Targetraining) and Josh Dillon (Fiordifrutta).

An entertaining U23 battle this season will come to a head this weekend as 15 points separate current leader Will Dugan (Richard Sachs/RGM Watches/Boathouse Inc) and Nick Keough (Jittery Joes/Sonic). Keough will realistically have to beat Dugan on both days to win the overall, but it is definitely doable, no matter how much of a battle these 2 have waged this season.

Rebecca Wellons (Ridley) took over the series lead for the first time in her career with a 2nd place finish last weekend in Sterling, and she is on the fast track to win her first overall series with a single repeat performance this coming weekend. She has a 64 point lead over Sally Annis (NEBC/Cycleloft/Devonshire Dental), who is on target to grab the 2nd overall spot on the podium if she can score 2 top 4 finishes on the weekend. But just like the men, the final spot on the overall podium will be up for grabs, with several riders in contention including Anna Milkowski (Velo Bella/Kona), Amy Wallace (Richard Sachs/RGM/Boathouse), Cris Rothfuss (NEBC/Cycleloft/Devonshire Dental), Laura Van Guilder (C3-Sollay), and Natasha Elliott (EMD Serono/Stevens).

The overall podium spots for the Masters 35+ race is pretty much locked up, but to whom gets those positions could be shuffled around after this weekend’s events. Series leader Jonny Bold (Corner Cycles), Roger Aspholm (Westwood Velo), and Mark McCormack (Team FUJI fueled by Clif Bar) have waged war with each other all season long, and while Bold’s 65 point lead seems secure, it will not guarantee him an easy time with the other members of the big 3 on hand. And Aspholm needs to look over his shoulder, as McCormack is only 24 points behind for the 2nd spot overall. The only rider on the weekend that could stay on the beach this weekend is Kevin Hines (Corner Cycles), who won the 45+ series last weekend in Sterling. But look for Hines to continue his momentum as he takes his last shot at the 45-49 national title next weekend in Kansas.

With current junior leader Luke Keough out of town, the series title is in the hands of Manny Goguen (Minuteman Road Club), who has a 45 point lead over Jesse Keough (CL Noonan/KAM/Coast-to-Coast) in the overall standings. These 2 should battle it out for the victories on each day as well. But all eyes will be watching the intense battle for the overall lead in the Junior 10-14 division, as New York native Curtis White (Capital Bicycle Racing Club) and Massachusetts native Nate Morse (CL Noonan/KAM/Coast-to-Coast) have been beating each other up all season long. White holds a 10 point lead going into this weekend; but if Morse wins on Saturday that would put the two in a dead heat with one race to go, setting up a game 7-like scenario on Sunday with one race for all the marbles.

In other series, the amateur men is being led by James Tosca (Corner Cycles) by 66 points over a surging Dylan McNicholas (NorEast), who has won the last 3 races of the series. But a single 2nd place finish will sew up the overall for Tosca. The Masters 55+ overall will be a 3-way dogfight between Dusty Adams (MosaicSmalti.com), Richard Sachs (Richard Sachs/RGM/Boathouse), and last year’s champion Ed Hamel (Joe’s Garage), with only 15 points separating these 3 riders going into this weekend.

Racing will begin at 8:30am on each day this weekend, with the elite men’s race wrapping up the day at 2:30pm. Information on the weekend can be found on the series website, http://www.necyclocross.com.

The 2008 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series is brought to you by Verge Sport, makers of fine cycling clothing and products since 1993; by Cycle-Smart, purveyors of personalized cycling coaching and solutions for riders across the country; by Cycle-Ops, makers of high-tech accessories to meet any indoor training plans; by Echappe, rent-to-own the latest in race wheels – try before you buy at Echappe; by BikeReg.com, the official online registration service of the NECCS; and by Paul Weiss Photo/Video, the official photographer of the NECCS. You can visit these sponsors and get more information on the series by going to the web at http://www.necyclocross.com.