The dry, hot run in Seattle has continued and Saturday’s MFG Cyclcocross StarCrossed event would deliver hot and fast racing at the Marymoor Velodrome. Riders were finishing with grit covered teeth and goth-looking faces covered in dust-caked sweat after tackling the course that ran both inside and outside of the velodrome. Starting out on the large pavement section the racers were sent down a 150 meter straight away into a hard right hand turn and onto the dry and loose dirt and grass. Another long straight run then gave way to a 180 degree turn around the chain link fence which caused further mayhem and strung things out in every field. The route around the outside of the Velodrome used the off-camber embankments coupled with long, fast straight aways before sending racers into the infield. After passing the finish line the riders used a portion of the track and then were sent through the gauntlet of the beer garden barriers. Once through the barriers riders were sent along the outside of the north end of the Velodrome for some more off-camber action before wrapping back around and making their way out to the pavement to then begin the circuit all over again.
The Women’s Elite group would take to the course as the sun started to wane and the temperatures began to finally fall from the mid 70′s. Following a large contingent of Single Speeders and Cat 3 Men the smaller women’s field would break up throughout the race and with riders spread out across the course the announcers would even be fooled as to who was leading and who was following. To start things off Jenni Gaertner (Motofish Racing) would take the hole shot and would be closely followed by Kari Studley (Redline). Lea Stralka (Ragnarok), Tina Brubaker (Speedvagen Racing), Emily Eggers (Blue Rooster) and Ivy Audrain (Keller-Rohrback) would form the first chase group and the small gaps would start to widen as the laps ticked off.
Stealthily working her way up behind that group after a back row start was Jessica Cutler (CyclocrossRacing.com) who had to negotiate not only the women’s field but the back end of the other groups to get near the front. Mid way through lap two Cutler would start to hit her stride and had closed in on the two leaders after burying herself to close the gap. After Studley went clear of Gaertner, Cutler attacked Gaertner and began to reel in Studley. At this point, most people watching, including the announcers, were calling Studley the leader of the race. Unbeknownst to most was that the diminutive Cutler had snuck by Gaertner and now Studley and had gone on to take over the lead. As the ladies finished up announcers even called Studley the winner before being told that Cutler had, in fact, finished 14 seconds ahead of Studley. The podium, after that initial confusion, ended up with Cutler on the top step, Studley taking second, and Gaetner rounding it out in third. The tight day or racing ended with 11 women finishing inside of one minute of the leader!
The Men’s Elite race went off just as the sun began to set and the Velodrome lights came on. The dust had barely settled from the previous races as the men barreled down the start chute with Ian Crane (Hagens Berman p/b DBC Photo) taking the hole shot leading out two of his teammates and a host of other front-running hopefuls. By the end of the first lap the front selection had been made with Logan Owen (Redline) leading Steve Fisher (Hagens Berman p/b Raleigh), Newt McGrath (Hagens Berman p/b Raleigh), and Kevin Noiles (Cyclocrossracing.com). The lead group would gap the fractured chasing group and by lap two it was clear the winner was going to come from this group. Noiles looked to be comfortably riding the back end of the group when he would bobble and lose the train for good. The lead three would motor on and spend the remaining laps trading blows as the Hagens teammates looked to deliver a series of “1-2″ attacks to try and shed the gritty Owen. Owen would have none of it though as he continually chased and countered every move that Fisher and McGrath could throw at him. Mid way through the last lap Owen would thrown down the race-winning attack as he blasted through the tight turns and up and over the log barries to gain a few second gap on Fisher with McGrath further back. Fisher’s best efforts on that last lap weren’t enough to get him back to Owen’s wheel and Owen would have time to sit up and fist pump through the finish line as he had won his first race of the year. Fisher would take second and McGrath would hold on to take the third step on the podium.
Logan Owen on his race:
Craig Etheridge (Raleigh/Clement) continued his winning ways in the Single Speed race after battling with Team Stanley’s Jason Williams for the entire race. A last lap attack by the Etheridge left Williams behind and gave him the opportunity to sit up and smile as he crossed the line.
Pre-Halloween spirit was alive and well with the core group of Single Speed ladies donning multi-colored tutus, horns, and even a NERDS candy costume to add some fun and color to the days racing.
The next MFG series race will commence on October 21st at Magnuson Park in Seattle.