JAMESBURG, N.J.—Elite riders on Saturday described the conditions on the first day of HPCX as “crazy,” “rough,” and “tricky,” as a nor’easter weather system dumped buckets of rain and brought strong gusts of wind to northern New Jersey. Sunday’s calmer, autumnal weather brought out more spectators as fields continued to storm the new course layout at Thompson Park for UCI Category 2 events and USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) elite events.
Arley Kemmerer (Palmerton, Penn./Fearless Femme Racing) returned to the winner’s circle at HPCX on Sunday for the Elite Women, last winning a C2 race at this event in 2016. Justin Lindine (N. Ogden, Utah/Hyperthreads/Apex Pro Cycling), Saturday’s champion in the Elite Men’s race, took his second victory of the weekend.
Kemmerer Wins on Thick, Muddy Afternoon
The two words used to describe the Sunday course conditions were “peanut butter.” The tacky, thick mixture of dirt and rain did not dry out very much.
In the Women’s Elite race, Kemmerer made her first appearance at HPCX on the second day. An attorney, she skipped the bad-weather day to participate in a bike law presentation in Philadelphia. She said she was surprised that the course was still so muddy.
“It was really muddy. I didn’t even pre-ride because I didn’t want to get everything covered in mud,” said Kemmerer, who is ranked No. 15 in the ProCX standings. “It looked like it was going to be more running from when I walked around. And it ended up being that.”
Kemmerer grabbed the early lead on the water-logged course, under cloudy skies and light winds. On her back wheel were to top two women from Saturday’s race, winner Cassandra Maximenko (Watertown, Conn./Van Dessel Factory Team) and silver medalist Natalie Tapias (Easthampton, Mass./JAM/NCC). Trailing close behind as the 21-rider field began to get strung out were Regina Legge (Salem, N.H./Trek Cyclocross Collective), Stacey Barbossa (Mountainside, N.J./Whole Foods Market Racing), Laura van Gilder (Cresco, Penn./Mellow Mushroom), and Rachel Rubino (Philadelphia, Penn./Fearless Femme Racing).
The lead three, Kemmerer, Tapias and Maximenko, shared the workload for a full lap. Then Kemmerer started to step on the gas with three laps to go. Sand, mud and tired legs caused some personnel changes among the chasers, with Legge and van Gilder taking charge.
Kemmerer took total command of the lead in the final lap to secure her first ProCX win this year, crossing the muddy finish line in a time of 45 minutes, 49 seconds.
“It was a lot of fun. It was really slick,” said Kemmerer, who added the win to two podium finishes in September at Nittany Lion Cross in Pennsylvania. “You could ride more things that I thought you could if you were really deliberate about what you were doing. It was really hard. I thought it was really fun.”
Legge made a move on the last lap to clear space between herself and van Gilder. She took second, 15 seconds behind Kemmerer. Van Gilder, a four-time winner of HPCX dating back to 2008, finished third.
“Conditions were very challenging today. Obviously, the mud was more ‘peanut-butter-esque’ because it had dried out a bit. The course changes I think created a more dynamic race for us,” said Van Gilder, who had joined Kemmerer with the other two podium finishes at Nittany Lion in September. “So I was happy to find myself battling for second with Regina (Legge). Unfortunately, and good for her, she’s a great runner. I am not as strong running. So with the pit being the most-focused running section, she definitely gained an advantage there. I was unable to bring that gap back.
“I am thrilled to be on the podium here again. Throughout my career, I’ve had a lot of podiums here. Most recently I have been struggling to find my way to the top three. So today’s result was very special to me.”
Local pro and 2018 U.S. Cyclocross Masters (50-54) national champion Barbossa, who was third on Saturday, closed in fourth on Sunday. Tapias finished fifth. In a sprint to the line, Rubino edged Maximenko for sixth in the 21-rider field.
Lindine Goes Two-for-Two
In the Elite Men’s contest, 23 riders took their turn in the muddy ruts and slippery turns through scenic Thompson Park and the banks of 30-acre Lake Manalapan. The start of the race was similar to Saturday, with Lindine taking the early lead with challenger Kevin Bradford-Parish (Spokane, Wash./Setcoaching p/b FSA).
“(The race) was similar to yesterday. I got a lead at first, then Kevin (Bradford-Parish) caught up to me and we duked it out for a while,” said the double winner. “Then I was able to get a little bit of a gap on the last lap, pretty much. It was a fun day.”
The duo were followed closely by Daniel Chabanov (Philadelphia, Penn./RSCX-House Ind-DWR-HM) for two laps. With four of the eight laps to go, the front of the race became a battle between Lindine versus Bradford-Parish. Then two riders joined Chabanov for the chase, trailing by more than 30 seconds – Scott Smith (Westhampton, Mass./Dirt League) and Mark Flis (Park City, Utah/Ascend Nutrition).
“The course was still really muddy. The mud kind of turned into peanut butter, more tacky,” added Smith. “There was still a lot of running, even though they took out most of the hill. There was still a lot of flat running, which made it interesting. And the addition of the sand pit, which was pretty fast.”
With two laps to go, Lindine and Bradford-Parish expanded their lead well over a full minute. Lindine then put in a solid attack to distance between himself from the reigning U.S. Masters (35-39) Cross-Country Mountain Bike national champion. He would cross the line alone in 59 minutes, 27 seconds for his second victory of the weekend. Not far behind was Bradford-Parish, who secured second, only 12 seconds off the pace.
“I do like this type of course. Not a whole lot of vertical, but it’s like quick vertical that you are doing. It requires short bursts,” added Bradford-Parish. “And then the mud was soul-sucking. I do like this course, minus the wet sand, and drivetrains. That definitely puts a hurt on (us). Great atmosphere here. It’s definitely worth coming all the way across the country for it.”
A full 2 minutes and 32 seconds back, Smith would make it a carbon copy on the podium from Saturday with another third place finish. Fourth place went to Michael Owens (Richmond, Vt./Rscx – House Ind – Dwr – Hm). Flis took fifth and Chabanov settled for sixth.
“It was surprisingly almost harder than yesterday, which I wouldn’t have believed if you told me yesterday. It dried out just enough to be really heavy. It was like two different courses,” added Lindine, who didn’t seem to be bothered by the differences and took home the same top prize.
Next Up in the ProCX Series
The Really Rad Festival of Cyclocross is new to the ProCX calendar and will be held Nov. 3-4 at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in Falmouth, Mass. The event will feature two days of UCI Category 2 racing.
“It was a local race last year and I’ve heard really good things. Now it has UCI status, so I’m really excited to go out and see what it’s like,” said New Englander Smith. “I mean, it’s on the Cape (Cape Cod), so I’m assuming it will be pretty sandy. I like the sand. I’m excited for it.”
The Really Rad Festival of Cyclocross is the continuation of the Plymouth Cyclocross that started in 1977 at the Plymouth Carver High School in Plymouth. Upon moving to the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in 2016, the race was renamed and expanded into the Really Rad Festival of Cyclocross. It is also part of the 2018 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart. The series provides four weekends of competition on classic courses with points and award jerseys for the best UCI Elite, U23 and junior athletes in 10 categories.
Elite Women's Results: 2018 HPCX Day 2
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Elite Men's Results: 2018 HPCX Day 2
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