by Jeff Bramhall
Halfway through the inaugural Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge, it’s clear why some of the top racers in the world have set their targets on New England’s professional series. As the Shimano Series lays its foundation on the heritage of cyclocross in New England it was only natural that first weekend of the series was at the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester. The second weekend in the series was a celebration of the more recent roots of American cyclocross, taking place at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island, the home of the 2005 and 2006 National Championships, with the Providence Festival of Cyclocross presented by Interbike.
While the heritage of New England’s racing is the reason the Shimano Series exists, the prize purse is no small matter. On offer is a series purse of $10,000, which is divided evenly between the Men and Women. On top of the series purse, each weekend offers the opportunity to pick up all-important UCI points as well as top-level payouts.
The racing in the Shimano Series thus far has been action-packed. To recap, the opening weekend of the Shimano Series saw a real dogfight at the Great Brewers Gran Prix of Gloucester. Swiss Champion Christian Heule (Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com) bested Jeremy Powers (Rapha Focus) on the first day. Powers got his revenge on Sunday, a late move giving him a victory over local product Tim Johnson (Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com). By virtue of his two placings, Powers put on the jersey at the end of the day in Gloucester.
The women’s racing in Gloucester was a different story with British Champion Helen Wyman making the best of the final weekend of her New England invasion. Wyman took victories both days and began her New England cyclocross legend.
The Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike offered our second weekend of racing and twice Justin Lindine (bikereg.com/Joe’s Garage) took victories. Lindine’s two wins in Providence were resounding and are poised to be the foundation for a breakout season. His Providence results gave Lindine control of the Shimano Series going into the midseason break.
Laura Van Gilder took the top step of the Providence the podium on Saturday, narrowly beating Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven/NoTubes). The tables turned on Sunday when McConneloug outfoxed the sprinting specialist, Van Gilder. Coming off solid performances in Gloucester, combined with a win and a runner-up in Providence, Van Gilder will wear the leader’s jersey when the Shimano Series resumes in Northampton, Massachuetts for the Cycle-Smart International.
The second half of the Shimano Series begins at the Cycle-Smart International at Look Park in Northampton, Massachusetts on November 5 and 6. It will once again feature a top-caliber international field and a battle for the prestigious Shimano Series leader’s jersey. Registration, race and series information can be found at www.nepcx.com. Follow us on twitter – @neprocx or Facebook.