Frattini (r) leads Grand and Scherz up the stairs. © Jamie Mack

Frattini (r) leads Grand and Scherz up the stairs. © Jamie Mack

by Jamie Mack

The number of people that descended on Druid Hill Park in Baltimore made the park seem larger than it was, as the energy of the crowd and anticipation of the weekend’s events quickly drew your attention away from the fact that you were in the midst of one of the East Coast’s largest cities. This weekend was all about ’cross, and the Charm City crew delivered.

With over 1,000 pre-registered riders for the event, it’s easy to say that Charm City Cyclocross was a success before the first gun went off. The big question going into the weekend would be the effect on the event, and the volunteers, of expanding to include a second day of racing.

Chris Nystrom, race director and Elite Masters racer, explained that without the volunteers the event wouldn’t be possible. “We ask a lot of our volunteers,” said Nystrom, adding that getting up a 4am to reset the course for Sunday was difficult after all the action of the first day. But even with all the activity involved in promoting such an event, Nystrom and C3 director Kris Auer were out there themselves tearing around the course in the Elite Masters races on Saturday and Sunday.

The course laid out by C3 took advantage of many of the natural features of the historic Baltimore park, using the slopes of the grounds to great effect. The technical nature of the first day’s course gave way to a slightly faster version the second day, but the fundamentals of each remained the same. Riders were treated to a short prologue before diving into the grass for twisty sections with a few off-camber moments for good measure. Around the beer garden (so close, and yet so far!) riders were taken through straight sections, 180-degree turns and up a set of stairs built especially for the event. Riders cruised through a set of high barriers built on another 180, only to find a final set of barriers before cruising through a few more turns to the finish.

Laura van Gilder, riding for the hometown favorite C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, picked up where she left off last season and again demonstrated she’s among the strongest riders in the mid-Atlantic. Van Gilder swiftly dealt with most of the field, but fought most of the day to shake Kristin Gavin (Team CF). Van Gilder seemed to have gotten free of Gavin on the last lap, but the two were together at the start of the final stretch. Despite her best efforts, Gavin couldn’t match her competitor’s explosive sprint. Given van Gilder’s reputation as one of the most feared sprinters on the road, Gavin gained the respect of those in the crowd by not giving in without a fight. Behind the two leaders were smaller battles for position within the field. Dee Dee Winfield (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) and Nicki Thiemann (Team CF) battled throughout the race to determine the final podium spots. In the end, Winfield would claim third and Kemmerer would claim the final five-deep podium spot, with Erica Yozell ( slotting into fourth.

The first men’s Elite race of the 2010 Charm City Cyclocross was ruled by the Europeans.  Italian Davide Frattini and Swiss speedsters Valentin Scherz and Anthony Grand proved to be the riders to beat as they rode away from the best of the mid-Atlantic. Grand would be the first to fall from the accelerations of the two stronger riders, and would settle into one of the more exciting races within the race. As Frattini was fighting to separate from 2009 MAC Champion Scherz, Grand was locked in a fight for third with Ryan DeWald (Haymarket Bicycles) and Ryan Knapp ( Frattini pulled away from Scherz slowly and then accelerated away in the final two laps to cruise in and repeat his 2009 Charm City victory. Once the two leaders had claimed their spots, Grand was able to hold off the first Americans and claim third.

Charm City Day 2
The first lap of the Elite women’s race on day 2 of Charm City was a testament to the home team advantage. Watching the entire field be led around the revamped course by the C3-Athletes Serving Athletes trio of Laura van Gilder, Arley Kemmerer and Dee Dee Winfield was an impressive site, likely enjoyed by C3 Director Kris Auer. The camaraderie was short-lived though, as Laura van Gilder dominated the field on her way to her third MAC series victory of 2010. Behind van Gilder, Kemmerer chased with Kristin Gavin of Team CF and Dee Dee Winfield riding most of the race on her own in fourth. Van Gilder cruised in for a solo victory, while behind her riders fought through every pedal stroke seeking an advantage over one another.

After the race, van Gilder told Cyclocross Magazine she was “really happy with how the season has started and looking forward to [Cross]Vegas.” With three wins in three races so far in the MAC Series this season, van Gilder has a firm grip on the title that she’s held for the past three seasons. However, Kemmerer seems to be riding stronger than ever and teammate Dee Dee Winfield is likely to be there to ensure that C3 will be represented on podiums throughout the series this year. But the one-two punch of Gavin and Nicki Thiemann from Team CF, a group of competitive cyclists committed to the development of a cure for cystic fibrosis, will be there to capitalize on any opening that the C3 racers give them.

“Hot, but good,” was how Frattini described day 2, adding, “I felt better than yesterday.”  Given the ease with which he rode away from the entire field, that may be a bit of an understatement.  Unlike the race at the front yesterday, Frattini had no problem with the Swiss Duo in the Cyfac colors and spent most of the day alone off the front. Soon after the first lap, Frattini gained a small gap that he’d gradually grow throughout the race. Grand and Scherz rode together throughout the day, and while they never caught the Italian up front, they held off all comers and finished with a crowd-pleasing sprint. The field behind the three Euro riders was spread across the course, with Ryan Knapp finding himself on the five-man podium for the second time this weekend.

Talking with Frattini after the race, the joy of taking his fourth and fifth victories at Druid Hill Park – he’s won each edition since 2007 – was obvious. Just moments after finishing the race, he was sporting the grin that any ’crosser can recognize: the one that says the wait is over. Frattini was beaming as he recounted his race and explained that he was impressed with the new Ridley he was riding. Equally impressive was that Frattini had only ridden the bike once or twice before Charm City. The MAC Series lead is likely to fall into the hands of Frattini if he continues his winning ways, though with Scherz being more consistent in the events thus far (Frattini skipped the previous weekend’s MAC opener) there’s still some calculations to be sorted out to see who will sport the jersey next week at Whirlybird cyclocross.

In just six editions, Charm City has grown from an event with a budget less than many riders pay for a set of race wheels to become a race weekend that sets a standard few events can match. Charm City has raised the bar again this year by providing an event that sets a new standard while remaining true to its roots; it’s all about racing, without the spectacle that many other events rely on.

Within the tightly-knit mid-Atlantic community, the success of the event is not likely to escape the notice of the people behind other MAC races, including the upcoming Granogue races, which have also expanded to a full weekend this year. The season may just be getting underway, but we may have seen the end of the calm before the storm. Charm City has stoked the fires and the MAC series is roaring out of Baltimore.

Photo Gallery:


Day 1 Elite Women

136:4161VAN GILDERLAURAC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
236:4263GavinKristinTeam CF
337:3762WinfieldDeidreC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
438:0265KemmererArleyC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
638:1571PipesLenoreThe Wistar Institute
838:3864thiemannnikkiTeam CF
938:5767MAXWELLJENNIFERVan Dessel Factory Team p/b Sterke Meiden
1039:2268ChurchKristineHuman Zoom/ Pabst Blue Ribbon
1139:2485MorrisonFrancesWheelhouse / NCC
1239:5769WebberLauriSecret Henry’s Team
1340:2570Boswell-ViltEviePerformance Bicycle Racing
1440:4475HillesheimLindseySquadra Coppi
1540:4874MaldonadoLyndaCannondale/Cadence Women’s Racing
1641:0476HarlowElizabethC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
1741:0582ApplegateCaraPerformance Bicycle Racing
1841:5079MostLisaWissahickon/Engin Cycles
1942:2181ShieldsKatherineCarolina Masters Cycling
2042:2877CutlerAmyTeam EPS/CSS p/b Brielle Cyclery
2143:1080ShieldsEmilyCarolina Masters Cycling
2243:4884GrimDianeC-3 Athletes Serving Athletes

Day 2 Eilte Women

136:2561VAN GILDERLAURAC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
237:0263GavinKristinTeam CF
337:1765KemmererArleyC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
437:4862WinfieldDeidreC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
538:1464thiemannnikkiTeam CF
638:2972dowidchukkatrinaTeam TBB/Deep Blue
838:3471PipesLenoreThe Wistar Institute
938:3767MAXWELLJENNIFERVan Dessel Factory Team p/b Sterke Meiden
1139:2483MorrisonFrancesWheelhouse / NCC
1239:3868ChurchKristineHuman Zoom/ Pabst Blue Ribbon
1339:5769WebberLauriSecret Henry’s Team
1440:1670Boswell-ViltEviePerformance Bicycle Racing
1540:2979ShieldsEmilyCarolina Masters Cycling
1640:4080ShieldsKatherineCarolina Masters Cycling
1740:4576CutlerAmyTeam EPS/CSS p/b Brielle Cyclery
1840:4584BuerklePatriciaRiver City Womens’ Racing
1941:1075HarlowElizabethC3 – Athletes Serving Athletes
2041:3581ApplegateCaraPerformance Bicycle Racing
2141:5578MostLisaWissahickon/Engin Cycles
2242:1977SchumacherKathrinGuy’s Racing

Day 1 Elite Men

10:59:261FrattiniDavideTeam Hudz/Subaru
20:59:412ScherzValentinCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution
30:59:5516GrandAnthonyCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution
40:59:595DewaldRyanHaymarket / SEAVS
61:00:1247FawleyBryanPark Place Dealerships
71:00:177WulfkuhleAndrewC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
81:00:213LivermonTravisMock Orange Racing
91:00:278WittwerGregALAN North America Cycling Team
101:00:3834LeaBobbyVan Dessel Factory Team
111:00:4322NietersJaredHaymarket / SEAVS
121:00:4732FrederickScottInland Construction
131:01:0843VlinderDieter VanderHilton Head Cycling
141:01:2014cummingsstephenHaymarket Bicycles  / SEAVS
151:01:2911nelessenguillaumeVan Dessel Factory Team
161:01:3410DonahueAlecWheelhouse / NCC
171:00:3512kerstingmitchellBob’s Red Mill p/b Focus Bikes
181:00:3641odellaaronBay 101/HRS /Rock lobster cycles
191:00:559WyattNathanaelCarolina Fatz pb Industry Nine
201:02:3117WeaverDaveALAN N. America Cycling Team
211:02:4315DombrowskiJosephHaymarket / SEAVS
221:02:526SchempfWestonC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
231:03:0939sneadjoshuaBay 101/RHS/Rock Lobster
241:03:1135mihalikmichaelFreddie Fu Cycling Team
251:03:1118FeldmanMukundaWheelhouse / NCC
261:03:3231ShererMikeThe Pony Shop
271:03:4528BlairPatrickAdventures For the Cure
281:03:4921ConsortoChristopherLouis Garneau/Team TBB
291:03:4940HarshmanShawnKonig Racing pb Harshman Wealth
301:04:0120BroadwaterMarkC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
3145BradleyPatrickRutgers University | Raleigh | Kim’s Bike Shop
3246AdamsZachC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
3324PeppoKyleCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks
3437LailZachMock Orange Racing
3538LarsenChrisACE p/b Highland Brewing
3625HanlonCharlesGuy’s Racing Club
3723JenksMichaelHighland Park Hermes p/b Kim’s Bike Shop
3819SpohnMattCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks
3942RuggTimothyBattley Harley-Davidson/Sonoma Restaurant/Teaism
4027SommervilleDavidCyfac-Champion System P/B Revolution Wheelworks

Day 2 – Elite Men

10:59:421FrattiniDavideTeam Hudz/Subaru
21:00:162ScherzValentinCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution
31:00:1615GrandAnthonyCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution
41:00:3547FawleyBryanPark Place Dealerships
51:00:353LivermonTravisMock Orange Racing
71:01:0421NietersJaredHaymarket / SEAVS
81:01:0431FrederickScottInland Construction
91:01:1730ShererMikeThe Pony Shop
101:01:1710DonahueAlecWheelhouse / NCC
111:01:3843LEECHRYANHilton Head Cycling
121:01:485DewaldRyanHaymarket / SEAVS
131:01:488WittwerGregALAN North America Cycling Team
141:01:5913cummingsstephenHaymarket Bicycles  / SEAVS
151:02:036SchempfWestonC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
161:02:4511kerstingmitchellBob’s Red Mill p/b Focus Bikes
171:02:499WyattNathanaelCarolina Fatz pb Industry Nine
181:02:4939sneadjoshuaBay 101/RHS/Rock Lobster
191:03:3641odellaaronBay 101/HRS /Rock lobster cycles
201:04:0935mihalikmichaelFreddie Fu Cycling Team
211:04:1916WeaverDaveALAN N. America Cycling Team
221:04:3245AdamsZacharyC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
231:04:5417FeldmanMukundaWheelhouse / NCC
241:05:1240HarshmanShawnKonig Racing pb Harshman Wealth
251:05:2742RuggTimothyBattley Harley-Davidson/Sonoma Restaurant/Teaism
261:05:4727BlairPatrickAdventures For the Cure
271:05:5620ConsortoChristopherLouis Garneau/Team TBB
281:06:2729BrownTimothyBattley Harley-Davidson/Sonoma Restaurant/Teaism
291:06:3836RunnalsMichaelJRVS/Casey Auto Group
301:06:5619BroadwaterMarkC3-Athletes Serving Athletes
311:07:2446StubnaMikeFort Pitt Velo
3218SpohnMattCyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution Wheelworks
3437LailZachMock Orange Racing
3522JenksMichaelHighland Park Hermes p/b Kim’s Bike Shop
3624HanlonCharlesGuy’s Racing Club
3744BradleyPatrickRutgers University | Raleigh | Kim’s Bike Shop
3826SommervilleDavidCyfac-Champion System P/B Revolution Wheelworks