The cyclocross season officially opened in Michigan this past weekend with the Avalon Pontoons Alma GP on Saturday, taking place under partly cloudy skies and unseasonably cool temps.
Across 17 categories (including four for Junior boys and girls), more than 250 racers took to the line to try their hand at navigating the slippery semi-permanent course in Alma, Michigan. While it did not rain on Saturday, steady precipitation over the previous week thoroughly soaked the course, and most racers made game-day decisions (or regretted earlier decisions) about how much tire tread to take to the start line.
Dyas Makes Alma Road Trip Pay Off
The Elite Women’s race saw two-time defending champion Amanda Schaap (Speed Merchants) take to the line to try and snag yet another winner’s jersey against a stacked field, which included Valerie Hyrman (Hagerty Cycling), Angela Webster (Ciclowerks), Melissa Seymour (Cadieux Bicycle Club) and 16-year-old Ellie Dyas of the Midwest Devo team. Dyas decided to make the four-hour drive to take part in the weekend’s festivities after hearing about the Alma GP through race co-announcer “Mr.” David Palan.
From the gun, Dyas jumped to the holeshot and asserted her presence on the hard-charging field. Over the 45 minute-long race, Dyas built on a small gap but was never entirely safe, as Hyrman, Webster, and Seymour continually kept her in check.
On the last lap, Dyas took her narrow lead into the up.bike stairs, which were followed closely by the new Avalon Pontoons Beach & Yacht Club feature—a 28 m-long sand pit on course. While Dyas opted to run the sand, Webster chose to stay on her bike. In doing so, Webster brought her gap to Dyas down from seven to three bike lengths by the end of the sand.
Undaunted by the pressure from behind, Dyas remounted and charged into the last 800m of the course, swiftly navigating the second sand feature, this time a 180-degree sweeping turn, before entering into the finish straight with a sizeable gap over Webster. Rounding out the wide-angle podium were Seymour, Hyrman, and Christina Draijer (Ann Arbor Velo Club).
Cloutier Cashes in on Michigan Visit
In the Elite Men’s race, Tyler Cloutier (TCCX) was looking to build off of his European experience last winter and enter the 2018/19 season with a win. Cloutier spent most of the week in Alma, hosting a clinic at Alma’s weekly “Monday Fun Day cyclocross training event prior to race day and also joining the folks in Ann Arbor to help with the CxPreX race before the official start of the season in Alma. Cloutier—also known jokingly as Texas’s favorite Canadian—greeted racers at the Alma Brewing Company on Friday during the early number pick up and was supported on race day by Scott Dedenbach (host of the Bike Shop CX podcast).
At the gun, former Masters national champion Jeff Weinert outsprinted the field to grab the holeshot, chased closely by Matt Henderson and young gun Judah Gustafson (Speed Merchants). The pace quickly elevated and after the second lap, Cloutier, Weinert, Gustafson, and Nathan Williams (Bissell-ABG-Giant) separated themselves from the rest of the field.
Cloutier, who seemed comfortable letting the race play out over time, eventually put in a dig that snapped Gustafson and then Williams, with only Weinert (a.k.a., the Little Pony) in tow.
The mid-race action was punctuated by racers’ decisions to ride or run the Avalon Pontoons Beach & Yacht club sand feature, and as the strong east wind slowly dried out the course, you could tell the bulk of the field was tiring.
Despite a mid-race drive-side spill by Cloutier, which necessitated a quick and seamless change in the nearby pits, he maintained a sizeable gap over eventual second-place finisher Williams. Gustafson finished in third, with Earl Hillaker and Lucas VanDrunen rounding out the Elite Men’s podium.
Full Results and More
Speaking of the podium, one of the most notable features of the Alma GP course was the 28 foot, two-story Avalon Pontoons Fun Ship, which doubled as both the race announcers’ platform as well as undoubtedly the most unique podium backdrop in U.S. cyclocross.
Scot Herrmann, the Voice of American Cyclocross, and Mr. David Palan returned to call the shots on race day, and afterward both made the drive south to the OVCX opener in Harbin Park on Sunday (which nearly necessitated an Avalon Pontoons boat just to stay afloat in the torrential rain).
Elite Women's Results: 2018 Alma GP
|Place||First Name||Last Name||Team Name|
|3||Melissa||Seymour||Cadieux Bicycle Club|
|4||Valerie||Hyrman||Hagerty Cycling Team|
|5||Christina||Draijer||Ann Arbor Velo Club Inc.|
|6||Victoria||Cane||Team Clark Logic|
|9||Tyacie||Corle||Ann Arbor Velo Club Inc.|
Elite Men's Results: 2018 Alma GP
|Place||First Name||Last Name||Team Name|
|6||Nicholas||Stanko||Ann Arbor Velo Club Inc.|
|10||Frank||Janssen||Ann Arbor Velo Club Inc.|