Van Gilder, Maximenko Grind Course Out in Women’s Elite Race
Cassie Maximenko (Rare Vos Racing/Van Dessel) looked on a mission on Day One of HPCX, the only UCI race this weekend in the United States. Right from the whistle, she powered through the uphill pavement climb, not only taking the holeshot, but having the lead by a healthy advantage.
Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom) was one of the next in line, and although Maximenko had a great start, Van Gilder was able to overtake her in the early laps.
Maximenko was far from intimidated, however, and put her foot right back on the gas, retaking the lead and holding it for nearly the rest of the race. Behind them, Elizabeth White remained in sight, at first battling with Nicole Thiemann (Rare Disease Cycling) before she broke away.
Britlee Bowman (House Indusries/SimpleHuman/Richard Sachs) had a slow start, but intelligently picked her way through the field, eventually taking fourth. Jessica Cutler (Jamis Bikesport) and Kathryn Cumming (Team Yacht Club), both had separate bobbles early in the race that cost them places, and both worked their way around riders, taking sixth and eighth respectively.
At the front of the race, Maximenko lead and Van Gilder followed right behind.
“On the first two laps, I tested out certain areas before the downhill section,” Van Gilder told Cyclocross Magazine right after the race. “Elizabeth [White] made a daring move right on the inside of the dirt corner before the stairs, and took me off-guard. It took me a little bit to retake the position, and after that I decided to sit on this and make a really clean move later. I didn’t want to be forced to make any errors.”
Her patience and tactics paid off when it came down to a sprint finish, which she won. She admitted she wasn’t certain if she could ride away, and she knew Maximenko was saving a little for the end.
“That’s the exciting thing about cyclocross,” Van Gilder told us. “In the end you can go into a race with a strategy to win, but if you over-think it, you’ll find yourself on the ground.”
Cameron Dodge Avoids the Chaos, Takes Another Win at HPCX
The same Neon Velo kit took the holeshot as from Sunday at Ellison Park, but it belonged to a different rider: Hugo Robinson. The young rider from the United Kingdom led early for the first half-lap before relinquishing what must have been a thrilling early race.
By the end of the first lap, the usual suspects took over. Jeremy Durrin (Neon Velo) and Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy/ Scott Bike) led a large pack around the race course filled with roots and ruts, with Dan Timmerman (House Indusries/SimpleHuman/Richard Sachs) waiting in the wings to strike. Anthony Clark (Jam Fund/NCC), Todd Wells (Specialized) and Travis Livermon (Mock Orange Pro CX) were also putting their names forward for podium consideration.
Then with six laps to go, everything was turned upside down.
As reported by Livermon after the race, Clark was riding up the uphill switchback when his pedal struck a post, with Jeremy Durrin getting caught up in the chaos. The latter would pull out of the race after by cause of a mechanical. Wells had bad luck with a rear flat, and Dodge seized his opportunity and took off with a blazing lap time.
Timmerman and Livermon also took off with Clark able to reassert himself in the race. With four to go, Timmerman pulled himself out of the race with what looked to be a painful injury, although he was able to take himself off the course by his own accord.
Wells worked his way back, catching Clark with four laps to go, and even passing second place Livermon. Both Wells and the MOB rider worked together for the next few laps, getting within sight of Dodge. With two to go, however, Dodge understood the urgency, and was able to pull away to a safe range by the bell lap.
The battle of the day came between Livermon and Wells, with Wells having a gap by the last lap. Livermon wouldn’t give up however, and called on his last reserves to catch back up. He caught up to Wells in the last third of the lap, and by the time they hit the pavement, he burst to second place.
“I was able to deal with the punchy sections better than Todd [Wells],” Livermon said after the race to Cyclocross Magazine, “so when we got to the final climb, I just went for it… The course is finally not a bunch of 180s, it’s still technical, but it worked for [a tall] guy like me.”
That was putting it mildly. Travis Livermon may have finished second, but his last lap was the record lap of the day.
As for aspirations for the Mock Orange Bicycle Rider: “I’ll be at nationals,” he answered. “I’ve been there before, I’ve been top ten before, and I’d like to do it again.”
Stay tuned for full results.