WARWICK, R.I.—Along the shores of Greenwich Cove and Greenwich Bay in Warwick, R.I., the first of two days of racing took place at the NBX Gran Prix of Cross. It is also the final weekend of racing of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart, seeing two elite riders finally taking turns in the winner’s circles for Elite Women and Elite Men on Saturday.
The Women’s U23 Vittoria Series leader Ruby West (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) of Canada would ride away with the win for the Elite Women. After six podium finishes this year, veteran Jeremy Powers (Aspire Racing) captured his first win of the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross (ProCX) season for the Elite Men.
West Starts Fast, Wins First Vittoria Series Race of Season
West would lead the race from the start with the duo of Arley Kemmerer (Fearless Femme Racing) and Rebecca Fahringer (Stan’s NoTubes p/b Maxxis /gofahr). She would finish eight seconds ahead of Kemmerer, who settled for second.
“I had a good start off the bat,” noted West, who was third in this contest last year. “I got the holeshot and then kind of drilled it for a little bit to see where people were behind me. Then Becca (Fahringer) and Arley (Kemmerer) were fighting with me for the first couple laps. I decided to try and go myself and get my own lines. I don’t think I was riding as smooth as they were. So when I was out front and had some room to move around it was a lot better for me. I went into a corner and took an inside line on Becca one lap and she went down, or something happened. So I got a bit of a gap there and I just went.”
Kemmerer would follow West’s wheel from the start. “After being down and out for two weeks, I felt riding a wheel in the longer, flatter sections would be a good move, and just check out how everyone was cornering. These corners, they look pretty simple, but they are really quite tricky. So I think we took it down to just the three of us, Ruby, Rebecca and me.”
“Rebecca went down in a sandy turn, and (I) almost ran over her, but got around her and stayed upright. So that is how the separation happened with the three of us. That was before the beach run. Ruby got a head start on us. I didn’t feel like I could close it down. I felt like I was conservative. I was gaining in the corners, but was losing on the long, flat stretches,” Kemmerer said about the way the race worked out for the podium finish. “I still have the remnants of this really persistent sickness (sinus infection), which Monday will be three weeks. It’s just hanging on.”
It would be Cassie Maximenko (Van Dessel/Atom Composite Wheels) who would reel in Fahringer and overtake her in the final turns of the race for third place, four seconds behind Kemmerer. Also fighting a cold like Kemmerer, Maximenko took a conservative approach to the day.
“The lead group set a pace a little bit harder than I was able to keep up with the first few laps. So, I just stayed in fourth and I was like ‘hold off whoever wants to get by me’,” Maximenko said. “And then all of a sudden I saw Becca off the lead too, so I was like, ‘oh, I have a chance.’ You get remotivated. With two laps to go I was just on a mission to reel her back in.”
“We were kind of bouncing off one another in the corners on that last lap. I was trying to find out where I was going to make my move. There is this long straightaway before the twists, before the finish straight, so I was like, alright, this is my chance. Becca is such a powerful rider that I didn’t know if I would be able to make it. So I just shifted a couple gears, put my head down, and sprinted by her,” said the New England rider, who is ranked in the Top 10 for Elite Women in ProCX standings.
Powers Gets First UCI Win of the Season
For the Elite Men, Saturday’s race would showcase a familiar sight with Powers taking a solo victory. A group of four riders would separate from the field after two laps, including Powers, Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), Eric Thompson (M Speed Wax), and Justin Lindine (Apex/NBX/Hyperthreads).
“It was about three (laps) to go, Curtis laid out a pretty serious attack. I was kind of yo-yoing off the front at first, then we got into a good rhythm,” explained Powers.
“With three to go I tried to ride the sand section. Curtis could smell blood in the water, so he made a huge attack, laid it down. I suffered a little bit, but I kept the gap consistent, I came back to them. And then I immediately launched an attack. I think over the last two laps after that I was able to keep the pressure on. And then in the back section here in the sand, I heard Curtis just going for me just as hard as he could. And I knew if I just launched one more time that was going to be it. I did and I was able to go away with it.”
White, the Elite Men’s Vittoria Series leader, would eventually succumb to the pressure of Powers’ attacks on the group. He secured second place, finishing eight seconds behind Powers.
“We were all really taking our turns and the race just seemed like it was getting faster and faster,” said White, who was just 19 points ahead of Powers in the ProCX standings last week, sitting in fourth position overall for Elite Men. “Technically, Powers was riding really well. He was riding the sand, he got a gap a couple of times over there. It was just one move too many for me to follow. I think with maybe one and a half (laps) to go, he got a gap in the sand. I closed through some of the trees, but then he was able to open it up again and I just was never able to bring it back.”
Eric Thompson (M Speed Wax) took turns on the front of the group throughout the race. “I had a front row start, so that always helps to get up there in the beginning. I didn’t have the greatest start, so I had to punch it,” said Thompson, who scored his fourth podium in a ProCX contest for the season. He would hold on for third place, 29 seconds down.
“Once I was up in the front, I took the lead a few times just to keep things steady. You know, not get too excited, not have to chase back on all the time. So I just wanted to try my hand at the front, when Jeremy and Curtis kind of surged be able to answer it and stay cool as much as possible,” added Thompson. “My saddle actually fell two or three inches in the last two laps. So I had to ride that and it felt like a little kid’s bike. But Jeremy and Curtis were pushing it really hard. With those accelerations out of the corners, I just didn’t have that, it wore on me. I knew if I tried to hold it long enough I might be able to make it to the finish, but that was not the case.”
ProCX races continue Dec. 4 at NBX Gran Prix of Cross in Warwick, R.I. and at Ruts N’ Guts in Broken Arrow, Okla. and NBX Gran Prix of Cross in Warwick, R.I. The final C2 races on Sunday at NBX Gran Prix of Cross will be the final installments of the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart.