BALTIMORE, Md.—The Mid Atlantic’s premier two-day cyclocross race, Charm City Cross, returned for its 14th season on Saturday, featuring Category 1 events for Elite Women and Elite Men in Baltimore City’s historic Druid Hill Park.
The top athletes from USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) took on a muddy course with its featured staircase, towering 50 feet in height with 29 steps. Event sponsor Scaffold Resources added eight additional steps from the 2017 feature, which did factor into strategic attacks on the final laps for both ProCX races.
Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing CX) took the Charm City crown for the women and Kerry Werner (Birdsboro, Penn./Kona Maxxis Shimano) grabbed the hardware for the men. Both also claimed early leads for the Parkway CX Trophy presented by Union Craft Brewery. Saturday’s ProCX races were the first of four events in the new series.
Noble and Rochette Renew Rivalry
Elite Women’s C1 Race — Racing started at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore under cloudy skies and mild temperatures. Rain from Thursday and Friday had created muddy conditions for the early events, with hundreds of juniors and masters riders packing down some of the areas.
After two turns on the circuit, the Elite Women’s field saw a battle at the front between the top two women in the ProCX standings, Noble, who is now ranked second overall, and points leader Maghalie Rochette (St-Jerome, Quebec/CXFever p/b Specialized). Trailing a few seconds behind in third was Kaitie Keough (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld). Another 10 to 15 seconds in full chase mode was Rebecca Fahringer (Concord, N.H./Kona Maxxis Shimano).
Rochette, who took the holeshot, did most of the work out front for the first half of the 5-lap contest. With two to go, Noble attacked on the back side of the course and tried to open a gap on her nemesis. The move extended the lead of the duo over Keough to 20 seconds, but the two continued to battle until the final lap.
“It was definitely a super tactical race, which is something that I’m not really used to. Maghalie is specifically such a hard racer to race against,” said Noble, who finished third in the 2017 Charm City C1 race. “We’re both pretty punchy and pretty good technically. So figuring out how to beat her has been an ongoing process. What it took today was finding out where she was making mistakes and capitalizing on that. I knew she was struggling on the 180 going along Club Row. I didn’t know if she was bluffing a little bit or if she was starting to ‘take on water,’ but I figured I would put in one more dig. Otherwise, I was saving a little bit for the sprint.”
Noble attacked after the final climb up the staircase and took a gap into the final turns. She did not need to use energy for a sprint, as she went solo across the finish in 45 minutes, 37 seconds. Rochette would follow in second place 28 seconds later. Keough took third place, 58 seconds back.
“I’m actually happy with it (the race), because I really gave it everything I had today. Ellen was just stronger today, and there’s nothing I can do about that,” said Rochette, who was 11th in this same race last year. “I think we are very similar. She’s really strong and super powerful, but she’s also a great technical rider. There’s nothing that she doesn’t do well. I feel like that’s great, because you have to be technically ‘on it’ to get the best of her. [They’re] great battles. It makes me better.”
The two will not face off on Sunday for the C2 title, as Rochette will be going home to Canada to prepare for a World Cup race in Europe. “I’m going back home, because I haven’t been home for a month. I’ll be home for a week and then go to Switzerland. I made a last-minute decision to go to the World Cup in Switzerland in a couple of weeks.”
All the women in the Top 5 of the Saturday contest are currently ranked in the Top 10 of ProCX. Baltimore-native and five-time U.S. mountain bike national champion Georgia Gould (Boulder, Colo.) made her way through the 31-rider field, moving from 26th to finish seventh.
“Right now there’s a lot of really strong women in North America,” Rochette added. “And every time we get to race each other, one of us has a better day. It’s never the same person winning, but it’s always great battles. I feel like that is really making all of us better. I’m really enjoying the state of the women’s field right now.”
Werner Attacks Early, Wins Late
It didn’t take the elite men very long to launch a five-man group at the front and string out the rest of the 41-rider field.
“I took the holeshot and led the first lap,” said Werner, who finished just off the podium in fourth place at last year’s C1 in Baltimore. “Honestly, I thought I could get away from these guys a little quicker. I thought pushing the pace on some of these corners would have shattered the field a little sooner. I reckon it did. There were five of us that basically stayed away.”
Along with Werner, the pistons in the lead included Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld), Matthieu Boulo (Saint-Guyomard, France/Team Pays de Dinan), Matthew van den Ham (Brandon, Manitoba/Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions), and Jamey Driscoll (Park City, Utah). Trailing in sixth was Tobin Ortenblad (Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz, Calif./Santa Cruz/Donkey Label Racing).
There were multiple moves and bike changes. With two to go, Werner moved to the front and picked up the pace. White would not be able to stay in touch with the leaders, leaving four to continue to set the pace.
“It was a bit of a chess match,” noted Werner about the race. “Van den Ham was riding pretty strong. When you see Jamey Driscoll at the front of the race, towards the end, you always have to check yourself. And then the Frenchman (Boulo), he had some very solid World Cups, so it was wide open. He was riding into the flyover every lap, and he was doing damage for sure. That was really wrecking me.”
On the final of the seven laps, Boulo opened a small gap on Werner. The move did damage to Van den Ham and to Driscoll. But Werner fought back.
“I really had to work in the corners to bring him back before the (Zoo) Mansion Hill. I connected right at the bottom – I was gassed,” added Werner. “I managed to just slot in front of him (Boulo) at the top and kind of work the corners off the top of the hill. I got three seconds and just ran with it. It was freaking tight. I was not ever relaxed this entire race. It was good. I was happy to win the C1 that way. Man, I am ecstatic. So pulling it off today was huge.”
Werner, who is the ProCX points leader for Elite Men, would win his fourth race this season in a time of 58 minutes, 12 seconds. It was his first C1 of the year, finishing second at Rochester Cyclocross in early September. Boulo would finish alone in second, just eight seconds back.
It took a sprint for Driscoll to outlast van den Ham and take third place, 25 seconds off the winning time. Driscoll, who was second at RenoCross earlier this season, said he could feel the high humidity during the race and the conditions were a little slower than last year.
“I’m not a good sprinter, but I just had more gas at the end,” Driscoll said about catching van den Ham on the final lap to battle for the final podium spot. “The move that I got him on was that last river crossing. I just chose a different rut than him and basically came to the pavement equal position, but I had more speed. Even though I was on the outside, I was able to carry my speed around the dry pavement.”
White would follow in fifth and Ortenblad in sixth.
“The pace was high all race, so that was a big thing. Smooth was fast today,” said Werner. He’s ready for Sunday in the C2 event. “I’m just going to race really hard. I’m not going to play games. I kind of want go pedal to the metal. I’m going to make it fast, send it early.”
2018 Charm City CX Day 1 Results - Elite Women - UCI C1
|1||3||Ellen Noble||Trek Factory Racing||45:37:00||5|
|2||4||Maghalie Rochette||CXFever p/b Specialized||46:05:00||5|
|4||5||Rebecca Fahringer||Kona Maxxis Shimano||47:21:00||5|
|5||6||Sunny Gilbert||Van Dessel Factory Team||47:36:00||5|
|6||2||Caroline Mani||Van Dessel Factory Team||48:18:00||5|
|8||10||Kathryn Cumming||Jalapeno Cycling||49:27:00||5|
|9||8||Lily Williams||The Pony Shop p/b KPMG||49:37:00||5|
|10||11||Emily Werner||Amy D. Foundation||49:44:00||5|
|11||15||Rachel Rubino||Fearless Femme Racing||50:05:00||5|
|12||7||Arley Kemmerer||Fearless Femme Racing||50:16:00||5|
|13||13||Laura Van Gilder||Mellow Mushroom||51:12:00||5|
|14||19||Taylor Kuyk-White||Philly Bike Expo||51:19:00||5|
|15||12||Stacey Barbossa||Colavita-Whole Foods Market||51:30:00||5|
|16||36||Bridget Tooley||Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions||51:44:00||5|
|17||33||Avanell Scales||Deschutes Brewery||51:59:00||5|
|18||18||Kristen Legan||Tenspeed Hero p/b Bitchstix||52:04:00||5|
|19||34||Elizabeth Sheldon||CXHAIRS Devo||52:08:00||5|
|20||17||Brittlee Bowman||RSCX - House Ind - DWR - HM||53:21:00||5|
|21||29||Ellie Mitchell||NWCX Project||53:43:00||5|
|22||27||Julie Hunter||Mapleworks Coaching||54:10:00||5|
|23||28||Philicia Marion||CarpeDiem Racing||55:26:00||5|
|25||31||Kelly Paduch||Rocktown Bicycles||56:45:00||5|
|26||32||Elisabeth Reinkordt||Team Laser Cats||57:12:00||5|
|@2Lap||30||Alixanna Norris||Cowbell Racing p/b World Bicycl||2|
|DNF||14||Natalie Tapias||JAM / NCC||2|
|DNF||25||Alexandra Campbellforte||Vanderkitten Entourage Racing/V||3|
2018 Charm City CX Day 1 Results - Elite Men - UCI C1
|1||1||Kerry Werner Jr.||Kona Maxxis Shimano||58:12:00||7|
|2||3||Matthieu Boulo||Team Pays de Dinan||58:20:00||7|
|4||4||Michael Van Den Ham||Garneau - Easton Cycling p/b Tr||58:38:00||7|
|5||6||Curtis White||Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.||59:18:00||7|
|6||2||Tobin Ortenblad||Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racin||59:50:00||7|
|7||12||Bjorn Selander||Donkey Label/Bingham Built||1:00:03||7|
|8||10||Cooper Willsey||Cannodale pb CYCLOCROSSWORLD.CO||1:01:16||7|
|10||22||Benjamin Gomez Villafane||Garneau - Easton p/b Transition||1:02:32||7|
|11||15||Lane Maher||Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||1:02:45||7|
|13||11||Travis Livermon||The Endurance Collective||1:02:57||7|
|14||16||Byron Rice||Storm Racing Team||1:03:00||7|
|15||43||Greg Wittwer||Sweet Spot Cycling wrapped in V||1:03:22||7|
|16||32||Sam Okeefe||RSCX - House Ind - DWR - HM||1:04:02||7|
|17||9||Scott Smith||Dirt League||1:04:27||7|
|18||17||Dylan Postier||Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions||1:04:34||7|
|19||21||Andrew Giniat||The Pony Shop p/b KPMG||1:05:02||7|
|20||14||Alex Ryan||Pactimo/Mock Orange CX Team||1:05:07||7|
|21||48||Joseph Thomas||SVille bikes/Giant Race Team||1:05:26||7|
|22||31||Christian Sundquist||Twin Six Metal||1:05:36||7|
|23||47||Trevor Raab||The 5th Floor NYC||1:05:43||7|
|24||30||David Gunnerson||Ascent Concept Team||1:06:36||7|
|25||19||Patrick Collins||kb PHOTO cx / A-D Bikes||56:50:00||6|
|26||20||Kale Wenczel||JAM / NCC||57:22:00||6|
|29||36||Thomas Borner||Margie Bars - J Mac Cycling||37:23:00||4|
|30||38||Scotty Albaugh||3T / Q+M||37:40:00||4|
|32||41||Matt Mcloone||BATTLEY HARLEY-DAVIDSON / FOUND||38:29:00||4|
|33||46||Spencer Johnston||Pactimo / Mockorange bikes||38:50:00||4|
|34||18||Trent Blackburn||JAM / NCC||26:39:00||3|
|35||42||Robert Marion||CarpeDiem Racing||28:17:00||3|
|36||39||James Norris||Cowbell Racing p/b World Bicycl||28:25:00||3|
|37||45||Jon Fields||Monticello Velo Club/Blue Wheel||29:02:00||3|
|DNF||40||Greg Gunsalus||RSCX - House Ind - DWR - HM||3|
|DNF||37||Michael Potter||Pactimo/Mock Orange CX Team||2|
|DNF||5||Jack Kisseberth||Garneau Easton p/b Transitions||1|