by Kelly Clarke
While many made the annual pilgrimage to Mount Krumpit for Jingle Cross this past weekend, about 500 racers convened at Hilton’s Indian Lakes Resort to tear up a golf course and test the bunkers in The South Chicago Wheelmen’s revered double race weekend. With The Chicago Cylocross Cup’s (CCC) only Saturday race in the series this year, many chose to stay at the hotel adjacent to the course and enjoy the amenities: a heated indoor pool, jacuzzi, spa, two restaurants and three bars – including The Cave Bar, made famous among local racers by the Chicago Cuttin’ Crew. (It actually looks like a cave). Despite the venue being only 45 minutes outside of Chicago, the weekend becomes a social affair and it’s a treat for racers to wake up on Sunday, have breakfast and be steps away from the course.
The course itself is challenging, with elevation changes, many sand pits and windy straights. Jeremy Powers, Elle Anderson and a handful of big names raced at this venue in 2012 and 2013 when the CCC hosted the New Year’s Resolution, a UCI race intended as a tune-up when Nationals were hosted nearby in Madison, WI. Point being, Indian Lakes is not just a party, it’s a great race.
This event is also a part of the Mid-West Collegiate Cycling Conference (MWCCC), so there was plenty of young talent and new faces for racers to contend with. Almost all participating division one and division two schools were represented, but Marian University dominated the collegiate competition, sweeping the women’s collegiate podium on Sunday.
There are minimal changes made to the course between Saturday and Sunday, but every year Mother Nature steps up to offer very different race conditions each day. This past Saturday was dry, windy and just plain cold with temperatures in the teens all day. A lack of precipitation meant tougher sand pits and faster straights.
In the Women’s Elite race, Corrie Karas (Marian University) from Rochester, MI made an aggressive start and took an early lead, holding a twelve second gap after the first lap. Sydney Guagliardo (Verdigris-Village CX) was not content to sit in the small chase group behind Karas and worked to separate herself from the group. She was successful, and with a lap and a half to go made contact with Karas. Guagliardo tested Karas with some small attacks and at bell lap, she dropped the hammer to overtake Karas and earn her first win as a Cat 2. Karas held on to hold second. Meanwhile CCC series leader, Kelli Richter (PSIMET Racing) had a bad start and fought her way back from eighth to a third place finish.
Series Leader, David Reyes (Heritage Race Club) had his work cut out for him in the Men’s Elite race. Dan Teaters (Team Wheel & Sprocket) from Green Bay, WI and sixteen year old Maxx Hall (Verdigris-Village CX) got far off the front with Reyes early in the race. Teaters and Reyes were very evenly matched and broke away from Hall halfway through the race. On the final lap, Teaters was able to gain an advantage on a steep run up shortly before the finish line and took the win. Reyes finished second. The young and talented Maxx Hall grabbed his first elite podium.
Tim Boundy tweeted as @Boundigris: Congrats on your first @ChiCrossCup Cat 1-2 podium @vvcycling Maxx. Many more to come I am sure!
A couple hours after the final race on Saturday, it began snowing in Bloomingdale, IL. Bike handling in slippery conditions became a huge factor for Sunday’s races, where the ground was blanketed in a layer of snow.
Kelli Richter (PSIMET Racing) took the hole shot in the Women’s Elite race, but slid out in a corner, causing her to lose the lead and many spots. Sydney Guagliardo (Verdigris-Village CX), coming off a win from the previous day was feeling great and was able to take over the lead early on. She rode clean in the snow, and despite her knee warmers sliding down and over her cleats, she was able to race mostly error free. Guagliardo rode to her second victory of the weekend. Kelli Richter came back from her early fall to finish second. Emily Elbers (Marian University) from Syracuse, NY took third to round out the podium.
Similar to Saturday’s Elite Men’s race, three racers went off the front early in the race. This time, road racer David Reyes was unable to work his way into the lead group. Dan Teaters (Wheel & Sprocket) was once again a contender. Teaters, with David Lombardo (Verdigris-Village CX) and road racer, Brandon Feehery (Lindenwood University), created a large gap early on. The three were very evenly matched and stuck together the entire race for an exciting battle right to the finish line. The race was won in the final turn, as Feehery used his criterium experience to dive to the inside of the corner and gain a slight advantage for the final sprint. Feehery, who races with Astellas Cycling Team on the road, took the win. Dan Teaters finished a split second behind him, followed immediately by David Lombardo. Mike Phillips (Heritage Race Club) fought hard for sixty minutes to bridge the gap to the leaders, but came up short, finishing fourth.
It was an exciting two days of racing for the elites, but the Masters races had their fair share of highlights. Robbie Ventura (Vision Quest Coaching), former professional cyclist, braved the cold to compete in the masters 35+ race on Sunday with his Vision Quest teammates. Lou Kuhn, owner of The Pony Shop and series title sponsor returned to racing after missing much of the season with an injury.
The series continues next weekend in Melas Park, where Northbrook Bicycle Club and George Garner Cyclery take the series Basin Racin’ and bring us the steepest climbs in The Chicago Cyclocross Cup. Visit http://chicrosscup.com/ for more info