ROANOKE, Virg.—Opening day for the 2018 USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) was hosted in Roanoke, Virg. on Sat., Sept. 1 with Virginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross Race presented by Deschutes Brewery. The first of 39 nationwide events took place at Fallon Park, on a tight, twisting 3-kilometer course in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was the first year for GO Cross as a ProCX event, contested last fall as part of the American Cyclocross Calendar.
Kerry Werner (Birdsboro, Penn./Kona), who finished second in the 2017 ProCX standings, won the men’s C2 race. The 2017 Women’s ProCX champion Caroline Mani (Besacon, France/Van Dessel Factory Team) resumed where she left off last fall with a victory in the Category 2 contest.
Drama Until the End in Men’s Race
Riders had practiced on a bone-dry course on Friday. Overnight rain created tacky conditions that greeted the field of 36 riders with a completely new look and feel. The top contenders were all in the front group under a steady drizzle, including last year’s Go Cross winner Tristan Cowie (Mills River, N.C./CTS Cycling Team), 2017 ProCX champion Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz, Calif./Santa Cruz/Donkey Label Racing), and Jack Kisseberth (Westhampton, Mass./GARNEAU-EASTON p/b Transitions Lifecare), who finished eighth overall in ProCX standings.
“You had to stay on your toes quite a bit out there. Stuff changed throughout the race. We started in a drizzle and then it stopped. Everything was changing, so had to take different lines every lap,” said Werner about the course and conditions. “Man, the last three laps, maybe four, it was about positioning. We were all riding pretty similarly, so it was hard to differentiate. We were all riding really well technically too. You could attack into a downhill, then bring it back. In the middle (of the race), we had that chase group getting close to us. We didn’t want to add any guys to the mix, so I went, Jack went, Tobin went, Tristan went. We kind of took our turn and solidified it (the break).”
Werner, who lives two hours south of Roanoke, in Winston-Salem, N.C., said he did not expect such a stacked field for the first C2 race of the year. “I was looking forward to just kind of walking into this as an easy race, but then I heard Tobin was coming and others. I think a lot of guys wanted to get a race out of the way before the first C1 (Rochester).”
With two laps to go, Werner moved into the lead, followed by Kisseberth and Ortenblad. The threesome stayed together until the last lap, when Ortenblad’s tire slipped out in a turn and he had to clip back into a pedal, losing momentum. Werner would nip Kisseberth at the line for the win with Ortenblad just behind. Less than two seconds separated Ortenblad at the line for third.
“The last lap and a half I knew I needed to be in the front,” Werner said. “To wait for one of those guys to attack, especially Tobin, when he lays it down it is pretty solid. So I tried to keep the tempo on the whole time.”
Cowie, who won the holeshot, could not match the accelerations from Werner in the end and finished fourth. He agreed that the field was more competitive than he had expected.
“It was cool to see the first race of the year really deep with talent and fast dudes. It’s a good course to start the season,” said Cowie, who was 17th overall in the ProCX standings last year. “It’s the first race, and questionable to see where your fitness is and how much depth you have. I was testing the waters a little and it felt good. With two or three [laps] to go, I started to come undone a little bit. Slowly, I made it back to the front group. Then they started throwing the big moves and I was pretty taxed. I was maxed out. I think it was Kerry who hit it pretty hard going through the pits with a lap to go, and I was like, ‘I think I’m done.’”
Van Dessel Goes 1-2 in Pro Women’s Race
Thirty Elite Women concluded a full day of competition at Fallon Park, with no rain, but heavy humidity blanketing the air. Van Dessel Factory teammates, Mani and Sunny Gilbert (Ellisville, Mo.) grabbed the front two positions from the start. Emily Shields would stay close to their wheels for the first three laps, then give way to Crystal Anthony (Newbury Park, Calif/LIV Cycling) and Rebecca Fahringer (Concord, N.H./Kona).
“I think we combined together well. We had different strengths – I was better climbing and maybe technically, but on the flat sections she has a lot of power. It was a double win today,” said Mani about a dual with her teammate. She finished 10 seconds ahead of Gilbert, in 46 minutes 11 seconds. “She was strong, probably stronger than me in the flat sections. I was trying not to bring everyone back. I didn’t feel like going right away, and I had people on my wheel.”
Gilbert would gain as much as 10 bike lengths over Mani. With four laps to go, the two reunited and took turns at the front. Then Gilbert had a mechanical before the bell lap.
“Three to go I took the lead. Then when she (Mani) went back in front. And right as she did that I laid it down on the drivetrain side and jammed my derailleur and spokes,” recounted Gilbert about her crash that took her out of contention for the top spot on the podium. “I had to wrench my derailleur out of my spokes and single-speed with two to go to the pit.”
Gilbert was aware that Fahringer was closing. “I had marked her, figured out where she was, and tried not to let her gain too much, because she is just strong.”
It would be Anthony who would recover from a shaky start and close the gap for third, and Fahringer would finish fourth, just six seconds behind Anthony.
“Somehow both my feet came out (of the pedals) at the start, I got swarmed, and was pretty much towards the back. I knew that it was a hot day, so I had to be aggressive getting back, but somewhat patient,” Anthony said. “So I just picked my way back lap by lap. Part of the way, I wasn’t sure, there were so many strong women there. I was able to sit in a bit, as much as you can in a cross race, and then made some moves in the corners in the last lap to hang on to Fahringer.”
Mani and Gilbert were very happy to finish 1-2 in the opening ProCX event. They said their goal for Saturday was for a double-podium for the team, celebrating with frozen yogurt after the race. As the winner, Mani buys.
Full 2018 Go Cross Day 1 UCI cyclocross results below.
- Virginia’s Blue Ridge GO Cross Race presented by Deschutes Brewery continues Sunday, Sept. 2 with amateur cycling races, spectator shenanigans, live music, Deschutes Brewery beer garden, food trucks, and more. Category 2 races for elite men and women will take place at 3 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., respectively. Professional cycling is unique in that it continues to be free for spectators. GO Cross is sanctioned by USA Cycling and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
- Next on the calendar will be Rochester Cyclocross in Rochester, N.Y., Sept. 8-9.
- USA Cycling ProCX features the premier cyclocross events in America and uses an overall ranking system to determine the best individual male and female ’cross racers over the course of the season. The 2018 ProCX calendar includes a total of 39 UCI-inscribed category 1 and 2 races across 19 states and the District of Columbia. The calendar spans from September to December, culminating with the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Louisville, Ky., Dec. 11-16, 2018.
2018 GoCross Day 1 Results - Pro Men
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Nat||UCI Team||Gender||Age||Result|
|2||3||KISSEBERTH||Jack||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||M||25||1:01:58.83|
|9||12||POSTIER||Dylan||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||M||27||1:04:23.14|
2018 GoCross Day 1 Results - Pro Women
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||UCI Team||Age||Result|
|11||113||ZAVETA||Erica||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||29||48:53.0|