Van Gilder controls the race at Northampton. © Todd Prekaski

Van Gilder controls the race at Northampton. © Todd Prekaski

 by Cindy Brennan

World-class athletes paid the respect that is rightly due to the oldest UCI cyclocross race in the US today by bringing top-level racing to the course at day two of the 23rd edition of the Cycle-Smart International. In rounds 5 & 6 of the prestigious Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge and rounds 7 & 8 of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the best racers in all categories shone today in fourteen exciting categories.

A 19-year-old Adam Myerson started the CSI in 1991 when he was just 19 years old, and 23 years later the legendary pro is still racing at Look Park in Northampton, MA. Myerson brought together the who’s who of New England Cyclocross to organize an amazing event: Alec Donahue, co-founder of the JAM Fund, coach, and celebrated racer is the race director; JD Bilodeau, long-time racer, organizer, and race results guru designed the course; and up-and-coming race organizer Patrick Goguen, of the Goguen cycling dynasty, is series Technical Director. On hand to serve up beer, sausages, and fries to raise money for the JAM Fund benefitting young up-and-comers was Stephen Hyde (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria), sadly sidelined due to a knee injury. Races for kids, a bouncy house, and petting zoo kept the whole family entertained throughout the crisp autumn day.

Action-packed racing all day culminated in the headlining acts, the Elite men’s and women’s categories. Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom Pizza) controlled the Elite Women’s race from the beginning, leading a group ten strong through the course. On Van Gilder’s wheel were yesterday’s winner Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty20 Cycling), Jenny Ives (Verge Sport-Test Pilot), and Cyclocrossworld.com’s rising stars Maghalie Rochette and Emma White. Like the engine on this train of racers, Van Gilder remained at the front calmly kept the lid on Anthony’s attacks. With one to go, Anthony surged again, taking Van Gilder along with her.  Rochette reconnected with the leaders, bringing White and Kemmerer with her. Van Gilder’s tactic of managing the pace of the lead group and covering attacks paid off, because her control of the leaders meant she could lay her trademark sprint down on the final stretch of pavement. Van Gilder took the win, Anthony held on for second, and Emma White finished just ahead of Rochette for third. Arley Kemmerer rounded out the top five.

The Elite Men’s race snaked uninterrupted through the course, charging through the fast corners and tricky sections in the woods. Yesterday’s race winner, Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Factory) controlled the front of the race, launching repeated attacks in an attempt to force a separation in the field. Gagne, Shawn Milne (Keough Cyclocross p/b Felt Bicycle), and Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel) gained a solid gap, which only Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) could bridge. Gagne kept the pressure on, keeping the pace high in that lead group until a crash in the last lap. A power struggle for the next leader of the group commenced as the group took advantage of the situation and launched attacks. First White, then Milne, and it was Milne’s attack that stuck. Milne took the win, while Gagne astounded the crowd by charging up to second. White capped off an amazing weekend of racing by claiming the third podium spot today. Mike Garrigan came in fourth and local favorite Jeremy Durrin took a solid fifth.

Today marked a big day for Emma White and Curtis White, siblings, both cyclocross up-and-comers, who celebrated their first UCI podiums today.

Competition lit up in the Verge New England Cyclocross Series, the premier amateur series in the US. Ryley Mosher (WheelWorks) and Daniel John Vaughn (Corning/No Tubes/Swan Cycles) retained 10-14 Juniors jerseys in the girls’ and boys’ divisions. Stephen Pierce (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) maintains a strong lead in the category 3 men’s division, while teammate Alec Donahue managed two wins in the 35+ men’s category this weekend – on top of organizing Cycle-Smart International – cementing his lead in that division. Ian Keough (Keough Cyclocross p/b Felt Bicycles) had a stellar race, keeping pace with Donahue in the 35+/Junior’s 15-18 race, giving Keough the lead in the 15-18 category. Melissa Seib (Bikeman) leads the amateur women’s field following a spectacular race today, while Alisa Allegrini (Nantucket Velo) holds a strong lead in the 35+ masters women’s field. 45+ leader Roger Aspholm (Finkraft Cycling Team) retains the series jersey, and 55+ leader Al Blanchard (Blue Ribbon Restaurants) keeps that jersey.

Next, the Verge New England Cyclocross Series heads to Sterling, MA for Baystate Cyclocross on November 30 & December 1, a notoriously challenging race designed by renowned course designer Tom Stevens. NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross will be the setting for the fiery finale of both the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge and the Verge New England Cyclocross Series. The true champions in all categories, amateur and Elite, will be decided at NBX on December 7 & 8.

Elite Women’s top ten

  1. Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel P/B Mellow Mushroom Pizza)
  2. Crystal Anthony (Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies)
  3. Emma White (Cyclocrossworld.Com)
  4. Maghalie Rochette (Cyclocrossworld.Com)
  5. Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty20 Cycling Co.)
  6.  Natasha Elliott (Rare Vos Racing/Stevens)
  7. Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos Racing/Van Dessel)
  8. Amanda Carey (Stan’s Notubes Elite)
  9. Jenny Ives (Verge Sport-Test Pilot)
  10. Christina Birch (Jam Fund/NCC)

 

Elite Men’s top ten

  1.  Shawn Milne (Keough Cyclocross P/B Felt Bicycle)
  2.  Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Factory)
  3. Curtis White (Cannondale P/B Cyclocrossworld)
  4.  Michael Garrigan (Van Dessel)
  5. Jeremy Durrin (Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies)
  6.  Jerome Townsend (Bikereg.Com / Joe’s Garage)
  7.  Michael Van den Ham (Cycle-Smart)
  8. Anthony Clark (JAM Fund/NCC)
  9. Evan Mcneely (Norco Factory Team)
  10. Derrick St John (Stevens P/B The Cyclery)