The Zipp OVCX Tour visited Louisville’s iconic River Road Country Club for the final time on Sunday as “Storm the Greens” celebrated the final cyclocross event at the venue before redevelopment construction starts on the city’s new Champions Park. And if the cross racers felt they got a cold reception, it was probably from the frosty weather on race morning because high-ranking officials and managers in Louisville’s city government have made it clear that they will be rolling out the welcome mat for cycling in general, and cyclocross specifically.
The riders in the early races, though, were wishing that a welcome mat had been rolled out on race morning, because it surely would have had provided more traction than the natural ground. The two downhill turns across from the start/finish line were particularly slick and soon became virtual ski slopes with pile-ups of up to eight riders each lap. As the weather warmed, the course got slicker and became the boulevard of broken dreams.
In the Women 3/4 Masters division, Melissa Corliss (National Engineering – Central Ohio Bicycle Club) came into the final race of the campaign with the season points lead, but succumbed numerous times to the slick conditions to finish fifth. Bridget Sempsrott (BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing) finished second behind Malissa Petrov (unattached) to steal the season title by a single point. Almost as dramatic was the Category 3 men, where Drew Dillman (Red Zone Cycling) needed only a fourth place finish to clinch the season championship. He finished fifth, while Alan Rodkey of Indiana’s Speedway Wheelman won both the race and the season championship by a mere 3 points.
The drama continued in the Elite Women’s race. Between the two of them, Niki Dallaire (Alderfer Bergen) and Nicole Borem (DRT Racing Elite) accounted for over half of the race wins for the season were locked in a tight battle for the Zipp OVCX Tour season championship with Dallaire having a narrow lead. But while Borem won the race and the season title, Dallaire had a mechanical and DNF’d, falling behind not only Borem in the final standings, but also Amanda McKay (BioWheels/Reece-Campbell Racing). Seeing the carnage that preceded him, Mitchell Kersting (Bob’s Red Mill / Rocky Mountain Bikes) took no chances and sewed-up the Zipp OVCX crown by winning the race after Papa John’s rider Clayton Omer slid out and ripped his rear derailleur off early in the race.
The OVCX awards party started immediately after the final race with Papa John’s delivering 30 pizzas, which racers snapped up faster than beer hand-ups on a hot day. To kick off the awards ceremony, Mitch Graham and Rachel Fagerberg raffled off a set of Zipp 303 Cyclocross Wheels, framesets from Shamrock Cycles and Moots, and other prizes in front of a cheering crowd of happy bike racers.
At the end of the day, a handful of River Road Country Club faithful watched the sun set on their beloved race course for the last time and had one more beer hand-up. Famous blogger Dr. John Mandrola has written that the soon-to-be Champions Park at sunset made you believe God created the place just for ‘cross. But with the potential for the venue to cater to even more people in even more sports, Louisville cyclocross is moving to Eva Bandman Park for next year.
See you there.
- Twenty-eight kids toed the line for the 10-14 Juniors. In the 10-12 boys race, James Francisco made a late race charge to take the win and the KY State title. Edie Webb and Gavin Haley took convincing wins in the 10-12 girls and 13-14 boys races and both captured KY State titles. Mackenzie Green won the 13-14 girls race.
- Will Bobrow and Thomas Francisco of Red Zone fought their last battle as U-10s with Will getting the edge on Thomas and taking the KY State Championship. Both boys literally learned to ride bikes at River Road Country Club. And despite their youth, both recognized the last race at River Road Country Club was a special one.