BREINIGSVILLE, PENN.—Elite women and men raced in the reverse direction on Sunday at the 2.9-kilometer course of Nittany Lion Cross in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania. This brought the mud pit into play right away and multiple twists and turns of the course around the Valley Preferred Cycling Center close to the finish. The course change seemed to keep athletes closer together for the second day of racing and eliminated key late passes.
The top points in the Category 2 races for the USA Cycling Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) went to familiar faces on the podium at the Nittany Lion Cross. Erica Zaveta (Brevard, N.C./ Garneau-Easton Cycling) repeated in the top spot for Elite Women. Matthieu Boulo (Saint-Guyomard, France/Team Pays de Dinan) sprinted to the line ahead of Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld) for the Elite Men’s trophy.
Zaveta Doubles Her Home State Fun
Sunshine peaked through the clouds as Arley Kemmerer (Palmerton, Penn./Fearless Femme Racing)took the holeshot for the Elite Women. As she made the first circuitous pass around the velodrome, Zaveta latched onto her wheel, followed by Cassandra Maximenko (Watertown, Conn./Van Dessel Factory Team).
“This was an important holeshot today,” said Kemmerer. “I just wanted to be the first one in there (mud pit) so I could go where I wanted to go. I also did not pre-ride it. I knew it wouldn’t be ridable. So I usually have good starts. I thought it would split the field more than it did.”
It only took one more lap for Zaveta, Saturday’s champion, to grab the lead in the 30-rider field. Midway through the six-lap event, the top four riders from Saturday’s race had made separation at the front—Zaveta, Kemmerer, Laura Van Gilder (Cresco, Penn./Mello Mushroom/Van Dessel) and Regina Legge (Salem, N.H./Green Line Velo Driven By Zipca). Maximenko slipped back to fifth position.
“I made a move in the middle of the race, and kind of rode away in the technical turns to test, see how things were going,” Zaveta said.
The foursome stayed together as a pack until the bell lap, when Zaveta revved it up a notch and surged to a 13-second gap over Kemmerer.
“With one lap to go I attacked, right in the mud pit. I ran through it and got a gap there,” Zaveta said about her winning move. “Then I was committed, so I (was) full gas after the mud for the rest of it. I thought I went a little bit too early, but then I was, Here we go.”
Zaveta would make it two-for-two at Nittany Lion Cross in a time of 46:26. Kemmerer would finish six seconds back in second place, improving from a third-place finish on Saturday. Van Gilder grabbed another podium spot in her stellar career, Sunday in third place. Legge would maintain her position in the break and finish fourth for the second day in a row, 33 seconds back.
“We were a group of four for a long time,” added Kemmerer. “We would get gaps without even knowing. The three of them attacked past the first pit on the last lap, going into the mud pit. All three of them went around me and there was nowhere to go. I just attached myself as fourth wheel and didn’t love doing that, but figured it’s OK. We were going really slow in the turns before the second pit entrance, and I was like, ‘I have to go now.’ I put some good time into Erica, but I didn’t have enough. She wasn’t that far ahead. I wish I would have executed a little differently, but I’m really happy to finish where I did.”
The third-place finish was another positive from early ‘cross season for Van Gilder.
“An amazing start for the ‘cross season for me to podium twice at two C2 races,” she said about racing near home at the Nittany Lion Cross. “It’s been a while since I’ve been on the podium at a UCI race. So I’ll take it. I hope I can build on it. It was great fun.”
Full results are below.
Boulo Outsprints White for Nittany Win
When the 28 riders toed the line on Sunday, it was without Saturday’s winner and ProCX points leader Kerry Werner (Birdsboro, Penn./Kona Maxxis Shimano). It didn’t seem to matter, as all riders hit the dry course at top speed chasing Boulo, who took the holeshot. Except for the mud pit, now with a consistency of peanut butter, the course was very dry and fast.
First on the Frenchman’s wheel was Curtis White (Delanson, N.Y./Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld). The two were matching attacks at the front of the race, followed closely by Alex Ryan (Lewisville, N.C./Pactimo/mock Orange Cx Team) and teammates Daniel Chabanov (Philadelphia, Penn./Rscx – House Ind – Dwr – Hm) and Michael Owens (Richmond, Vt./Rscx – House Ind – Dwr – Hm).
With five laps to go out of eight, Chabanov and Owen had moved past Ryan, but could not gain any ground on the blistering pace by Boulo and White.
“We weren’t making the race easy for each other. We both were pushing the pace, and wanting to test each other where we could,” White said about his battle with Boulo. “The first three laps, I think, he (Boulo) took control. I didn’t see him look back once. We were able to fight it out and it came down to, literally, the last couple hundred meters or to the last corner.”
The Boulo-White matchup kept pushing the pace with each lap and extending the gap to over two minutes to Chabanov headed into the final lap. It was on the bell lap White tried to make a pass at the stairs, but then lost position going into the turns.
“After the stairs, I took the lead and led through the chicanes in the woods,” White added. “I just wanted to take away any advantage he had there. In the last couple of meters before the corner, he dove to the inside, which maybe I would have done the exact same thing. It was a corner that we needed to race to. And it was too tight to make any other passes. I kept it within a bike length or two for the last few corners, but it just wasn’t enough to make the difference.”
It was a sprint at the line with Boulo taking the win in 55:11. White scored the same time and settled for silver.
“Two and one are good races,” Boulo said about adding a win to his second-place finish on Saturday. “It was very fast in the corners. It’s technical—tight, tight, tight on the corners. It’s a good feeling on the bike.”
Making a solid move on the last lap to finish third was Yorben Van Tichelt (Belgium/Neon Velo), 2 minutes and 17 seconds behind Boulo. Chabanov would take fourth, another 14 seconds off the pace.
“I knew I was not in good shape coming into these races, so mentally I was just prepared that this was training. So, I’m pretty happy with this podium,” said Van Tichelt, who has been training in the U.S. for a month. “I was just so hot in the start, that my legs said, ‘no, not today.’ You know? I was in sixth or seventh place, and I just felt like something needs to happen. Well, it didn’t. I just said to myself, try to do good sections of the course not full laps, like interval training. And I saw that I was catching some people. That made me motivated to the finish.”
Van Tichelt will not race the World Cup races in Waterloo, Wisc. or Iowa City, Iowa later this month, but will return home to Belgium. He said he looked forward to escaping the heat in the U.S. “I’m looking forward to this bad, rainy Belgian weather again. I’m heading back to Belgium. I’m just not in good shape to do World Cups yet, I don’t want to disappoint myself.”
Full results are below.
Racing for week 4 of ProCX will feature the midweek RenoCross in Reno, Nev., Wed. Sept. 19. This is the second C1 contest of the season. RenoCross coincides with the venue and dates for Interbike, the largest U.S. bicycle industry trade show. A Friday matinee will be held Sept. 21, C2 racing returns to Waterloo, Wisc. for Trek Cup. Two days later, Waterloo will host Telenet UCI Cyclocross World Cup races.
Women's Results: 2018 Nittany Lion Cross Day 2
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Men's Results: 2018 Nittany Lion Cross Day 2
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