by Matt James and Cyclocross Magazine

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – After twenty four hours of heavy downpours across St. Louis, MO, racers and fans alike were set to experience what most refer to as “true ’cross conditions” for the second running of the Gateway Cross Cup. Half a foot of rain turned the soccer fields and baseball diamonds of Heman Park in St. Louis’s University City neighborhood into a veritable swamp that would deliver course conditions typically reserved for the depths of winter.

Raleigh-Clement’s Ben Berden, hailing from typically muddy Belgium, must have smiled when he saw the weather and course conditions after racing mostly-dry early-season races. Jonathan Page, another legendary mudder, heard six inches of rain and had visions of his dominant National Championship win in Napa in 2002 after a similar deluge. Would one of these two racers slip away to steal the Gateway Cross Cup title and Cross After Dark Series lead, or would a dark horse upset the stars? The St. Louis fans, after a Compton-dominated women’s race, could be forgiven for wanting a tight battle for the win.

[Also see: Powers and Stetson Lee Take  Gateway Cross Cup 2011]

Ben Berden hops the barriers on the last lap to win the Gateway Cross Cup 2012. ©Matt James

Ben Berden hops the barriers on the last lap to win the Gateway Cross Cup 2012. ©Matt James

Attacking from the gun in the men’s race, Berden (Raleigh-Clement) wasted no time taking to the front for a fast first lap, just like his teammate Nicole Duke did in the women’s race.  Berden powered through the inches deep mud bogs that populated most of the course, determined to distance himself from the rest of the field.

Behind him, Jonathan Page gave chase, keeping the Belgian in sight and pegging the gap around fifteen seconds. Each lap saw the two leaders locked into a dead heat for the win, with Berden unwilling to cede any of his tenuous lead. Meanwhile, Joshua Johnson of Bissell-ABG-Nuvo pulled clear of the field to lock in third place while the remainder of the group battled between each other for the remaining coveted UCI points. In the end, Berden held his lead to the line, finishing with a flourish by flawlessly bunny hopping the barriers on the final lap.

With his win in St. Louis to complement his third place at Cross Vegas, Berden assumes the lead in the Cross After Dark series heading into the next round in Cincinnati on November 4th.

2012 Gateway Cross Cup Elite Men’s Photo Gallery:

2012 Gateway Cross Cup - Cross After Dark #2 - Elite Men's Results

PosBibLast First TeamTime
42LivermonTravisMock Orange Racing1:03:28
53FawleyBryanDallas Bike Works1:03:33
610DillmanAndrewBob's Red Mill1:03:35
86LasleyJacobTeam Soundpony1:05:43
95ScmalzJosephSource Endurance1:06:00
118CrossBrandonCole Sport1:06:26
1213JohnsonJoshuaBig Shark Racing1:07:01
1315ReardonAndrewBob's Red Mill1:07:24
1411HaleyLukeBob's Red Mill1:08:04
1 Lap4gerowDanielWolverine Racing
1 Lap9ClarkDevinCannonball-The Hub
1 Lap7EdsallDrewKenda_Felt
3 Lap20SmithMichaelCycle City Racing
3 Lap17SponselAlistarThe Pony Shop
DNS16ShererMikeOptum p/b Kelly Benefits