Mason, Ohio—Slick muddy conditions challenged the athletes racing Day One of the Cincinnati UCI Cyclocross Weekend (Cincy CX).
Saturday’s race served up the fifth UCI-inscripted Category 1 race of the USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX). This is the 15th year for CincyCX, and the first time back to Kingswood park since 2016.
Leading from start to finish, Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing CX), who holds the top stop in the Elite Women in the ProCX standings, claimed her fifth ProCX victory. Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Alpha Bicycle Co./Groove Subaru), who spent most of the race at the front, took the win in the Elite Men’s race and his second ProCX victory.
Noble Is Queen at Kings
Racing started under cloudy skies and very slippery conditions on the rolling terrain of the Kingswood Golf Course. Ellen Noble (Kennebunkport, Maine/Trek Factory Racing CX) took the holeshot and never relinquished the front of the 39-rider field. Katerina Nash (Czech Republic/Clif ProTeam) was the only rider able to stay with her in the first two laps in the slick conditions.
“I didn’t have a super crazy strategy today. Sometimes I think I plan more than others, but I was able to find my pedal immediately at the start and I noticed that I had a little bit of a gap and I wasn’t going to give that up. As a naturally strong starter, I let that play to my advantage,” Noble said. “Once I got a gap, I tried to keep the pressure strong, but I didn’t want to go too deep in the red because that’s when you start to make mistakes.”
The gap between Noble and Nash would shrink and grow for two more laps until Noble rode a mistake-free lap. “I think I realized that I started to lose focus on lap three and I completely forgot that this one section existed, and I totally took the wrong line,” she explained. “So, after that one point, I was like ‘you just need to focus, just stop making mistakes’. I was going with the flow and I think I relaxed into the technicality of the course a lot. I was comfortable, I was control drifting rather than trying to fight it. I think with that, that was the change that I need to make.”
With half a lap to go, Noble has a solid 30 seconds on Nash. Noble finished the six-lap event in 49 minutes, 13 seconds. Nash crossed the line, 37 seconds later for second place.
Kaitie Keough (Colorado Springs, Colo./Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) separated herself from the rest of the field to lead a solitary chase in third place, a position she would hold until the end.
“I had a good start, sliding in second I think. Ellen [Noble] just rode away on the first lap, and I just wasn’t on that level today, but trusting my process, I guess, and we have another day tomorrow,” Keough stated.
Keough claimed her fourth podium of the ProCX calendar. She added, “I just traveled from Switzerland on Monday and I’m focusing on the World Cup Series, just a lot of traveling but that’s what it is. Today was good. Again, I wasn’t on the level but third is good, podium is always good, right?”
Four riders, Katie Clouse (Hideout, Utah/Alpha Bicycle – Groove Subaru), Rebecca Fahringer (Concord, N.H./Kona Maxxis Shimano), Sofia Gomez Villafane (Argentina/Pivot Maxxis pb Stan’s DNA Cycling) and Courtenay McFadden (Bellingham, Wash./Pivot-Maxxis pb Stans-DNA Cycling), chased behind the lead trio. Gomez Villafane was able to get a gap by the bell lap to finish fourth.
Your Royal Highness Hecht
Following his pre-race strategy, Gage Hecht (Parker, Colo./Alpha Bicycle Co./Groove Subaru) claimed the holeshot and took the front in the Elite Men’s C1 race. On his wheel were Kerry Werner (Birdsboro, Penn./Kona Maxxis Shimano), Lance Haidet (San Luis Obispo, Calif./Donnelly Sports), Stephen Hyde (Easthampton, Mass./Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld.com), and the rest of the 57-rider field with many riders falling on the slick, slippery course.
“Watching a lot of the races today, I knew that there was going to be a lot of carnage throughout the course and I just didn’t want to be risk being behind some of that and letting a move go. It could just cause separation and I’d have to close it later in the race, so that was the goal today,” Hecht explained.
A few accelerations later and a group of four riders, which included Hecht, Haidet, Hyde and Cooper Willsey (Hinesburg, Vt./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) had separated itself by the end of the first lap.
“I was the first one on the second row for call-ups, so I got to choose a good wheel,” Haidet explained about his start strategy. “I started right behind Kerry [Werner] and [Stephen] Hyde, I knew they were going to be good off the line. With it being so slick, I knew that you needed to be up there before you got to the first couple off-camber areas, otherwise you were going to be just pack fodder behind everyone. So, I actually think I was fourth wheel going into the first off-camber section, kept it upright, and then actually halfway through the first lap, I was able to go to the front and start laying it down,” explained Haidet.
One lap later, Hecht was off the front, with Haidet mounting a solitary chase. Hecht admits that he was keeping a close eye on Haidet, his teammate on his road team.
“Lance [Haidet] was definitely keeping me on my toes. As you know from seeing him at Hartford a few years ago, he’s got some really good technical skills and he knows how to ride under pressure, so he was definitely keeping me nervous all day, but it was really good. It was good to have him out there today, [with him] being on my road team and all,” Hecht stated.
Behind them, the chase group shuffled and re-shuffled in a battle for third place between Werner, Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz, Calif./Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing), Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Cannondale p/b cyclocrossworld.com) and Willsey.
Hecht finished the event in one hour, five minutes, 43 seconds. “Really excited,” Hecht said. “It’s my first C1 win, I’m pretty ecstatic about it, I don’t know what to say.”
Haidet crossed the line, 16 seconds later for second place. Werner, who holds the top step in Elite Men in the ProCX standings was third, 23 seconds down.
Hyde, in his first race back since breaking his sternum five weeks ago at the Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup in Waterloo, Wisc., finished in 10th place. “It was pretty rough. I needed that intensity in my legs. I needed to get that first race out of the way and see where I’m at,” he said. “Everybody has been racing so well, and they’ve all had their opportunity…this is my third day of riding off-road in five weeks. It’s got its difficulties for sure.”
Racing continues Sunday for day two of Cincinnati UCI Cyclocross Weekend.
2018 Cincy Cyclocross Festival Day 1 Results - UCI C1 Elite Women
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Team||Age||Result|
|1||4||NOBLE||Ellen||USA||TREK FACTORY RACING CX||23||0:49:13|
|13||15||ZAVETA||Erica||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||29||0:55:11|
2018 Cincy Cyclocross Festival Day 1 Results - UCI C1 Elite Men
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Team||Age||Result|
|7||5||VAN DEN HAM||Michael||CAN||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||26||1:07:15|
|39||34||POSTIER||Dylan||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||27||@2 Laps|