by Cindy Brennan
An epic day of racing completed this year’s edition of the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross today. Not only drawing to a close a fantastic weekend of racing, today’s races decided the final overall standings in the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge. Following yesterday’s frigid temperatures, racers and spectators alike were relieved that fog rolling in from the bay over Warwick, Rhode Island brought more tolerable temperatures. The NBX course is one of legend, with two bayside beach runs complementing the loose climbs, bermed corners, and fast dirt chutes carving through trails and around pine trees. Despite the challenges of the layout today’s race was a fast one, and large groups formed that had trouble shedding numbers.
The faces at the front of today’s Elite Women’s race were familiar, as Elle Anderson (Ladies First Racing), Arley Kemmerer (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes), Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) broke away within the first half lap, gaining handfuls of seconds over Crystal Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com), Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) and Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda-Seven-No Tubes). Anthony, hungry for a result that would bring her into second in the series over McConneloug, bridged the gap to the leaders through phenomenal will. These four flew through the course together, while Bruno Roy and McConneloug cranked their pedals in an attempt to gain back some ground. Each of the leaders attempted attacks in the last half lap, and each was in turn matched by her worthy competitors. The four swung through the final rooted trails all together, but it was van Gilder and Kemmerer who hit the pavement first, guns blazing. The sprint left the race officials to sort it out with a finish line photo, as even the announcers had divergent opinions about the race victory. The results came in: Laura van Gilder won it with a mere quarter of a wheel’s length on Kemmerer. Crystal Anthony placed third, just the edge she needed to overcome Mary McConneloug, but not the weekend she needed to oust Helen Wyman (Kona) as series champion. Ellen Noble (Trek Cyclocross Collective), celebrating her seventeenth birthday tomorrow, glowed with happiness over claiming the U23 Women’s leader’s jersey.
“Competition in New England is so good, and it keeps getting better. The Shimano and Verge Series are top racing circuits. You race top competitors close to home, so when you race on the national circuit you’re in very good shape, ” said van Gilder, pleased with sweeping the weekend’s races after suffering disappointments here last year.
The Elite Men hit the course with ferocity, and a swarm of seven amassed at the lead of the race, with Shawn Milne (Cyclocrossworld.com) and Derrick St. John (Stevens Racing p/b The Cyclery) taking turns at the helm. The pack was filled to the brim with racers motivated to do well today: Jeremy Durrin (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria), bent on redemption after yesterday’s hopes were crashed; Mike Garrigan (Stage-Race/Blacksmith Cycle), who needs to earn podium spots to ensure his place on the Canadian team in the World Championships this February; Justin Lindine (Redline), hoping to build his late-season form leading up to racing in Belgium and Nationals; Dan Timmerman (RGM Watches – Richard Sachs), winner of the 2009 Verge Series, making a comeback after a few years away from racing; and young Evan McNeely, hoping to move into second spot in the U23 series competition. This group clung together, attacks stringing them out, danglers chasing back on, until the pace hit a fever pitch in the last lap. Milne, in a dramatic bid to claim his second win this weekend, launched off the front of the race and held his lead for a tremendous victory. Managing his own gap off the front of the group, Garrigan hoped to claim his second second-place finish for the weekend; however, he flatted in the final stretch, allowing Timmerman to slide through to take second as Lindine laid claim to third. Milne’s double victory this weekend moves him into second overall in the series, behind Jeremy Powers (Rapha-Focus) and ahead of Ryan Trebon (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld). Evan McNeely finished the series with two tremendous races and succeeded in claiming second on the U23 series podium. Zach McDonald (Rapha-Focus) maintains his lead, while Manny Goguen (CF Racing p/b Trek Portsmouth) took third.
“The racing here is fantastic. The courses are great – it’s a pretty solid region,” says Lindine of the racing New England has to offer.
The Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge completes its biggest season of racing to date, as riders from all around the world converged on New England, drawn by its reputation as the most prestigious in the U.S. Four beautiful venues attracted record numbers of racers and spectators to their celebrated grounds: Gloucester, Providence, Northampton and Warwick each with unique characteristics and challenges. Equal prize money has been offered to the overall top five Elite Men and Women, thanks to support from Shimano, makers of high-quality innovative bicycle components and Verge, offering quality clothing to the cycling community since 1996. The series has shown its dedication to equity and growth within the sport, already enjoying explosive growth in the New England region.