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by Cindy Brennan/Molly Hurford
The last weekend of New England’s Holy Week did not disappoint. In the women’s race, Helen Wyman (Kona) took the win, followed by Katie Antonneau (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) and Crystal Anthony. For the men, Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) took the win, and Ryan Trebon (Cannondale-CyclocrossWorld) picked up second while Ben Berden (Raleigh-Clement) took third.
The Providence Cyclocross Festival began at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Providence on Friday night before moving to the site of the 2005 and 2006 US National Cyclocross championships at Roger Williams Park. The Biltmore hosted an invitation-only rider presentation and the second annual Builder’s Ball showcasing New England’s foremost bicycle builders. This UCI Catergory 1 race, the second in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series after day one of Gloucester, drew some of the biggest names in North American cyclocross angling for the reward of more UCI points and larger pay-outs than UCI category 2 races offer.
Local company G-Form showed their support for professional women’s cycling, offering to equal the Elite men’s payouts for the top three Elite women.
Saturday’s race events got under way as racers hit an increasingly dry course in sunny, warm conditions – a huge shift from the chilly, rainy, muddy races on the first two days of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series at the Gran Prix of Gloucester last weekend. The fast course featured two sets of stairs, a set of double barriers, signature off-camber turns and short, punchy climbs. A brand-new ride-up flyover was a crowd favorite. Record crowds gathered not only to race in the amateur events, but to visit the local businesses and cycling vendors who had set up booths in the expo area. Racers, their friends and families, as well as cycling fans, stood in lines at the popular food trucks to refuel after their grueling competitions.
The Elite women hit the course during the warmest part of the day, with temperatures reaching 75 degrees under a relentless sun. The women’s race was won early on, with Helen Wyman almost immediately establishing a gap and controlling the race, building the gap to nearly a minute by the end of the race.
A chase group including Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus), Gabby Day (Rapha-Focus), Meredith Miller (Cal Giant/Specialized), Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda/Seven/No Tubes), Lea Davison (Specialized), and Katie Antonneau (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale) fought the gathering wind together in a futile attempt to get Wyman back in sight. Crystal Anthony (cyclocrossworld.com) chased her way back on to the group in a display of the strength we have come to expect from this local racer who this season has shown she can race alongside the big names. The group would more or less ride together until the concluding lap, when, after leading the chase for a large part of the race and trading attacks with fellow racers, Meredith Miller went down on the pavement, a crash which would remove her from the race with spiral fractures in her right hand (third and fourth metacarpals). Antonneau went on the attack, leaving the others to sprint for the last podium spot. Crystal Anthony mustered her strength to sprint for the finish and landed third place in a massive group sprint from the pavement.
Kaitie Antonneau, who emerged solo from the chase group, explained, “We were in the chase group, seven of us, and we were clearly racing for second because Helen was just gone.” She added, “Coming in with one to go, I was leading and a few mistakes behind me happened. I didn’t see it, but I heard them so I just went.”
During lap one of the men’s race, the announcer posited that, “The game is to contain Jeremy Powers.” Powers, however, could not be contained, and sprinted against Ryan Trebon to seize yet another C1 victory, arguably his narrowest win of the season. How many C1s does this make for Powers, in the midst of a nearly unstoppable winning streak? “If you ask Richard Fries, it’s six, but it’s actually four.”
Jeremy Powers (and Ryan Trebon knew that their tie for points leader in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross series would be broken during today’s Elite men’s race. But it was Ben Berden who charged off the start line in an attempt to string out the field and force a break. Only the strongest could follow, including Powers, Trebon, Tim Johnson (Cyclocrossworld/Cannondale), Dylan McNicholas (Cyclocrossworld.com), and Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles/Specialized).
Splitting the group further, Trebon took up the reins, a move that only Field, Berden, and Powers could match. As their lead solidified, Field was shaken from the group and the race belonged entirely to Trebon, Powers, and Berden; the only thing left to be decided was who would get which podium position. Meanwhile, Johnson’s strong start was struck down by a mechanical, forcing him to abandon the race. Field chased the lead three by himself in a fourth-place position that he would hold on to as he crossed the finish line. A larger chase group, each with designs on the last top five spot, was led by Justin Lindine (Redline), Elite men’s winner of both days of the Providence Cyclocross Festival last year.
Trebon and Powers dropped Berden as they lit up the final lap, but the two raced neck-in-neck leaving the win to be decided with a sprint. Powers took the win on the final push up the pavement, with Trebon in second. Berden rolled in by himself for third. Field, also alone, took fourth, as young Zach MacDonald (Rapha-Focus) won a bunch sprint with the chase group for fifth and a more solid grasp on the U23 series points leader jersey.
“It was a really fast course,” Powers said, “and it’s a great race. It’s a nail biter, for sure. There just aren’t a lot of places to really go, there are a lot of punchy sections. And things happen in one and two seconds. It makes for a crazy, hard day.”
As for him and his main competitor, Ryan Trebon, who helped him get away from Ben Berden, who took control of the race early on, Powers said, “We were pretty evenly matched out there, I’d get a second in a place and he’d get a second in another.”
“It was just a really hard day on the bike.”
Elite Women’s Results:
|10||Laura VAN GILDER||USA||49||46:55:00||10||10|
Elite Men’s Results:
|16||Derrick ST JOHN||CAN||36||1:02:54|