by Kelly Clarke
The final stop of The Chicago Cyclocross Cup is Montrose Harbor on the frozen shore of Lake Michigan. Ten27 Cycling Club and Spidermonkey Cycling co-host this series finale which also doubles as the Illinois State CX Championship race. While some racers are ramping up towards regionals and nationals others line-up at Montrose to leave everything out on the course and call it a season. Either way, everyone is racing hungry on this wide open power course that conjures up correlations of Koksijde with it’s vast sandy dunes.
Brad Keyes tweeted as @carborocket the Thursday before the race: Deeper than it ever was. IL State CX Champs will be won in the sand #CX #bikechi instagram.com/p/wKOVo3tm_R/
Some would indeed win in the sand, but others would win on the pavement with a bike throw at the line. The single speed race was arguably the most exciting race of the day with a photo finish between the top three riders. Lucas Seibel (Jus d’Orange) won the sprint while Mike Conroy (Mox Multisport) took second place with a mighty bike throw, milliseconds behind Seibel. Peter Chrapkowski (Twin Six) grabbed third and sealed the overall series win. All three would compete again in the Men’s Elite race, but it was eighteen year old David Lombardo (Verdigris-Village CX) who would steal the show there.
Lombardo took an early lead in the Men’s Elite race and forged a lot of ground between him and a large chase group. He barreled through the terrain with extreme focus and rode error free to his first win in the elite category. A group of six battled behind him, but it was Ian Haupt (Milwaukee Bicycle Company Racing) from Whitefish Bay, WI who would prevail among the chase group and earn second place. David Reyes (Heritage Race Club), who came into the race with the overall series win already locked up, finished third.
Alexander Martin (Revolution Cycles) from Madison, WI and Josh Bauer (Twin Six) from Richfield, MN came in just behind the podium finishers, respectively in fourth and fifth. Former series winner Brian Conant (The Pony Shop) rounded out the state championship podium for the Elite Men with a solid performance and a sixth place finish.
The Elite Women’s victory was far less automatic. Sydney Guagliardo (Verdigris-Village CX) and Danielle Smith (Tenspeed Hero) joined Wisconsin’s Schneider sisters, Samantha and Skylar (TIBCO/To the Top) at the front of the race. The pair’s usual attacks were kept in check by the other two early on as the four edged away from the rest of the field. The younger sister Skylar stayed calm and loose in the thick sand and gained an advantage while Samantha kept an eye on the competition.
Skylar never looked back, maintaining her lead during the last tough climb up Cricket Hill and through the finish line. The other three racers spread out as they rushed toward the finish. With the win in the family Samantha put in her own attack and finished in second place roughly 200 meters behind. Guagliardo grabbed the state championship jersey and sealed her overall series win with a third place finish. Danielle Smith claimed a silver medal for the state championship and a fourth place finish. Sarah Szefi (PSIMET Racing) found her way to the front of the chasers for a bronze state medal with a respectable fifth on the day.
Guagliardo later said that she took more chances than she usually does, because it was the last race of the season, and it played to her benefit. She agreed with Skylar Schneider that the course was a lot of fun.
The entire day was festive thanks to Goose Island brewery and its heated beer garden next to the sandiest section for spectators to enjoy the races, imbibe, and stay warm. With local food truck, Big Star, serving tacos and Heritage Coffee making warm beverages all day, spectators had everything they needed to spend the day at Montrose Harbor and enjoy the culmination of this fiercely competitive series.
The CCC series title sponsor, The Pony Shop, sealed up the series overall team victory in a close race over Verdigris-Village CX and Main Street Bicycles Sasquatch Squadron. A few podium sweeps from the Pony Shop juniors team certainly helped.
Best of luck to racers headed to Grand Rapids, MI for the Midwest Regional Championship this weekend and those keeping the fire going until CX Nationals, happening in Austin, Texas in early January. If you’re abandoning seriousness for the rest of the winter, The Chicago Cuttin’ Crew is hosting Afterglow – A Cyclocross Race, December 20th in Chicago as a way to raise money for two worthy local youth cycling programs. More information on these races and The Chicago Cyclocross Cup series can be found at http://chicrosscup.com/