JAMESBURG, N.J.—A powerful Nor’easter hit the northern half of New Jersey Friday night and Saturday morning with strong winds, heavy rain and coastal flooding. This left organizers and volunteers working overtime to keep the course intact at Thompson Park for the opening day of weekend races, including UCI Category 2 events for USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX). Now in its 19th year, HPCX is the second longest-running internationally-sanctioned cyclocross event in the country.

Storming their way around the course their first ProCX wins of the year were Cassandra Maximenko (Watertown, Conn./Van Dessel Factory Team) for the Elite Women and Justin Lindine (N. Ogden, Utah/Hyperthreads/Apex Pro Cycling) for the Elite Men. Lindine improved from his second-place finish in this same race last year. Maximenko last competed at HPCX in 2015, winning both days.

Maximenko Maximizes UCI C2 Points

It was the sixth podium in a ProCX race for Maximenko this year. After two fourth-place finishes Oct. 13-14 at the Grand Prix of Gloucester, the New Englander had no problems in the Mid Atlantic mud on Saturday, as she led from holeshot to checkered flag. She finished the four-lap event in 50 minutes, 49 seconds.

“The race started really well. It was everyone full gas from the get-go,” said Maximenko. “The course was super fun. It was muddy and slippery, but it was still very ridable in most of the sections. I got the holeshot, but was then second or third wheel through most of the first half of the first lap. I was chasing down Natalie (Tapias), who was riding really well through all the technical sections. I knew that I was going have to use some of the more power sections, that were a little limited because of the mud, to my advantage.”

Cassie Maximenko took the UCI C2 win on Saturday. photo: Matt Matusky

Cassie Maximenko took the UCI C2 win on Saturday. photo: Matt Matusky

Natalie Tapias (Easthampton, Mass./JAM/NCC) had one turn at the front on the first lap and kept Maximenko in her sights for one more lap. Then Maximenko opened the distance for the final two laps that Tapias could not chase down. Regina Legge (Salem, N.H./Trek Cyclocross Collective) and Stacey Barbossa (Mountainside, N.J./Whole Foods Market Racing) worked through the muddy track in the chase.

“I knew that I was going have to use some of the more power sections, that were a little limited because of the mud, to my advantage,” added Maximenko, who is ranked 16th in ProCX Elite Women’s standings. “So I just put my head down and worked really hard in the spots that I knew were my strength, and then stay really smooth through the twists and the turns and the muddy bits. I made a couple mistakes. But once I was in the lead, I just kept my head down and made sure that I stayed as smooth as possible. I was able to put together a solid race.”

It would be the second ProCX silver of the year for Tapias, who finished second at KMC Cross Fest in Connecticut Sept. 30. She would finish 41 seconds behind Maximenko.

“The conditions today were really crazy,” said Tapias about strong winds and slippery mud. “There was a considerable amount of rain overnight and it turned the majority of the course into pretty slick mud. You just had to really focus on being as smooth and as fast as possible without blowing up your legs in the mud. So that was my focus. I tried to apply some of the lessons that I learned racing in Belgium last winter in today’s race. It was great to finally be able to showcase what the JAM Fund has taught me.”

Local pro and 2018 U.S. Cyclocross Masters (50-54) national champion Barbossa She didn’t have a clean start, fell to 15th in the field and had to work her way into contention.

“Wow, it was rough. My feet were cold, I missed the pedal, I had a really bad start,” said Barbossa, who finished second in the Saturday C2 race last year. “As soon as we went on the mud, which was about 15 seconds from the start, I said ‘wow, this is really, really hard.’ And I was immediately struggling. It was just me and the bike and the mud. I don’t even remember passing girls to be honest. I was just trying to survive.”

Barbossa dug her way through the mud and pitted on each lap, taking a clean bike. She said that made the difference in grabbing third, 57 seconds off the winning time.

“This totally is not my type of race. I’m not a good power rider. I like to accelerate out of turns, I like to stand. There was none of that today,” explained the N.J. native. “If there was one good thing that I did, I felt like I was just flying down the descents, just like a little kid on a bike for the first time. No brakes, skidding all over! I know I closed gaps on girls in that section. I pitted every single time. Getting on that clean bike is a game changer. I don’t know how I pulled it off.”

Legge would finish fifth for the Elite Women, 12 seconds behind Rebecca Gross (Golden, Colo.).

Lindine Supreme

The windy and wet conditions were created from a former hurricane in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Midday Saturday the winds began to calm for the Elite Men’s contest, but pools of water and bogs of mud continued to grip the wheels of the 25-rider field. Lindine controlled the pace for the first pass over the barriers.

On the second lap, the reigns were taken over by Kevin Bradford-Parish (Spokane, Wash./Setcoaching p/b FSA). The chase group included Daniel Chabanov (Philadelphia, Penn./RSCX-House Ind-DWR-HM), Scott Smith (Westhampton, Mass./Dirt League) and Michael Owens (Richmond, Vt./Rscx – House Ind – Dwr – Hm).

Lindine leaves the rest behind. photo: Matt Matusky

Lindine leaves the rest behind. photo: Matt Matusky

“It was super tricky out there today. I kind of like these conditions, but it changed a lot, surprisingly, during the race,” said Lindine, who grew up in the Northeast in Windham, N.Y.  “The rain tailed off in the middle of the day and it was soupy at the start, but starting to get heavy and peanut-buttery at the end. It made it especially challenging. Every lap you are trying to figure out the smoothest way to do things.”

Lindine did not get rattled and started pushing at the front halfway through the race. He started opening a lead on Bradford-Parish and the rest of the field. Behind him, Smith made a move with two laps to go to break out of his small group. There weren’t enough laps remaining in the six-lap race to chase down Bradford-Parish.

The men’s field never came back together. True to his bib number, No. 1, Lindine finished alone in first in a time of one hour, 3 minutes, 21 seconds. Bradford-Parish, the reigning U.S. Masters (35-39) Cross-Country Mountain Bike national champion, would finish a little over a minute later for second. Smith was almost three minutes behind Lindine for the final podium spot.

“It was super muddy, kind of like last year on day two,” said Smith. “I think it was a race of attrition. I knew where I was pretty quickly because (Justin) Lindine just dropped the hammer. And Kevin (Bradford-Parish) was the only one who could go with him. I just chilled and rode my own race. Ended up third. The race was fun.”

From the early pacesetters, Owens would finish fifth and Chabanov would finish 11th.

Organizers of HPCX modified this year’s course at Thompson Park, moving the start-finish to the lower section of the park by the lake and moving the barriers from an uphill section to a flatter section. Riders seemed to like those changes, and just endure what Mother Nature did with the weather.

“The start-finish looks interesting. It’s not a very long sprint from the last corner. So it will be an interesting last lap if you are in a large group because you’re going to have to lead the descent down into it. Today it wasn’t a factor. It will be interesting tomorrow,” added Smith.

“I have a love-hate relationship with the old barriers,” said Barbossa about the course. “It didn’t turn out to be so easy because there was so much mud and it was so hard. I like the long flat start, as opposed to the long hill start where everybody usually is so blown up. I like it. I like this venue. It was great.”

The weekend doubleheader of ProCX races will continue Sunday afternoon in Jamesburg for HPCX at Thompson Park. Weather conditions are expected to improve. ProCX contests also take place in Cincinnati, Ohio at the 15th edition for Cincinnati Cyclocross (CincyCX). Those races return to Kingswood Park in Mason, Ohio, and also include amateur competitions for the Ohio Valley Cyclocross Series.

Full results below.

2018 HPCX Day 1 Results - UCI C2 Elite Women

131MAXIMENKOCassandraVan Dessel Factory Team50:49-
236TAPIASNatalieJam / Ncc51:300:41
335BARBOSSAStaceyColavita-whole Foods Market Rac51:460:57
437GROSSRebeccaZero D Racing52:381:49
532LEGGEReginaTrek Cyclocross Collective53:112:22
634VAN GILDERLauraMellow Mushroom54:233:34
738BOWMANBrittleeRscx - House Ind - Dwr - Hm54:383:49
839FACCONEErinVelocio Necx55:184:29
947STERNEGabriellaVanderkitten Entourage Racing55:334:44
1041LUPIENLeslieVelocio Necx56:015:12
1150BARCLAYVickiKenda Cannondale Elite Women's56:496:00
1252SCALESAvanellDeschutes Brewery57:256:36
1345SHELDONElizabethCxhairs Devo : Trek Bikes57:416:52
1446CAMPBELLFORTEAlexandraVanderkitten Entourage Racing/v57:597:10
1540KIERTerraRebel West Cx-2 laps
1651MARIONPhiliciaCarpediem Racing-2 laps
1749FESTALaurenRare Disease Cycling / Keswick-2 laps
DNF33CUMMINGKathrynJalapeno Cycling
DNF48FERROShaneColumbia Cycling

2018 HPCX Day 1 Results - UCI C2 Elite Men

11LINDINEJustinHyperthreads/apex Pro Cycling1:03:21-
23BRADFORD-PARISHKevinSetcoaching P/b Fsa1:04:261:05
32SMITHScottDirt League1:06:202:59
55OWENSMichaelRscx - House Ind - Dwr - Hm1:07:414:20
77FLISMarkAsend Nutrition1:08:184:57
814CAMERONMollyPoint S Nokian1:08:435:22
924WHITNEYJoshFull Cycle Cross Elite Team1:09:035:42
114CHABANOVDanielRscx - House Ind - Dwr - Hm1:10:397:18
1329NIEMOTKOSzymonCentral Jersey Cycling Team1:12:409:19
1419DAYKevinRollout App / Endurance3601:13:099:48
1527MARIONRobertCarpediem Racing-1 lap
169WENCZELKaleJam / Ncc-1 lap
1725DIETZAndrewTrek Cyclocross Collective-1 lap
1822GUNNERSONDavidAscent Concept Team-1 lap
1917NIESENChrisJam / Ncc-2 laps
2028LEBAIRCraigPhiladelphia Ciclismo-2 laps
2130VAUGHNDanJam / Ncc-2 laps
2221FESTAMikePhiladelphia Ciclismo-2 laps
2316VASQUEZJonahBear Development/trek-2 laps
2410COLLINSPatrickKb Photo Cx / A-d Bikes-3 laps
DNF26AVERYMatthewPhiladelphia Ciclismo