The leaders of the Elite Men's race round the course. © Neil Schirmer

The leaders of the Elite Men’s race round the course. © Neil Schirmer

by Neil Schirmer

WASHINGTON – Race number four in the Super 8 series brought racers back to the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home for another edition of an event that has become a regional favorite.

In spite of scheduling concerns involving the shutdown of the federal government, the race went off as planned.  Fast and dry conditions prevailed, only serving to enhance a course that’s normally a power rider’s delight.

In some of the age-graded contests, Evan Goldberg (Rock Creek Velo) won the U15 race, finishing in front of 36 other up-and-coming young racers.  Craig Cozza (UPMC Cycling Performance/Pro Bikes) crushed the 45+ field, establishing an early lead and holding it to the line to finish more than a minute ahead of second place finisher and Verge Sport jersey contest leader Jerzy Wozniak (Winchester Wheelmen). Wozniak wouldn’t be denied the top step of the podium however, racing again later in the day and winning in the 35+ race.

The featured Elite contests showcased some of the best rides of the day.  In the Women’s Elite race, Cheryl Sornson (Team CF) put on perhaps the most impressive performance of all – for the third weekend in a row. Sornson doubled-up taking victories in both the Women’s 45+ race and the Women’s Elite contest. While still relatively new to cyclocross, Sornson plays her strengths gained from her endurance mountain bike background.

When asked about how the race played out, Sornson suspected her rivals were following her wheel at times, hoping to conserve some energy. That strategy ended up being comfortable for her. “When it got technical I wanted to be in front so as to have a clear go and not get caught up in another’s bobble,” explained Sornson.

Third place finisher and Verge Sport jersey competition leader Allyson Tufano (Sportif Coaching Group) confirmed this, describing Sornson’s cornering technique as “buttery.” With a front row seat for much of the race, Tufano and second place finisher Julie Kuliecza (River City Women’s Racing) chased Sornson closely until the elastic snapped somewhere between the third and fourth laps. Sornson would finish 36 seconds clear.

The Elite Women's Podium. © Neil Schirmer

The Elite Women’s Podium. © Neil Schirmer

On the Men’s side, fans were treated to an intense four-way battle for the top spots. That battle could have been a five-way fight if local superstar Jeremiah Bishop (Cannondale) didn’t break his chain in the first lap while motoring his way toward the leaders group forming at the front.

Once Bishop was out of the picture, the foursome of Jared Nieters (SEAVS/Haymarket p/b Van Dessel), Wes Schempf (SEAVS/Haymarket p/b Van Dessel), Nick Waite (Pro Tested Gear), and Greg Wittwer (C3-Twenty20 Cycling Co.) eventually settled into their own groove. Nieters attacked several times in an attempt to put pressure on the group. Waite reeled in the second attack and counter-attacked with the decisive move in the late stages of the race.

Depleted from his efforts and unable to match the acceleration of Waite, Nieters gave chase but would ultimately roll in for second place 12 seconds behind, with Schempf rounding out the top three. With his solid finish, Schempf maintains the lead in the Men’s Verge Sport jersey competition with a narrow lead over teammate Jake Sitler.

With almost 750 pre-registered riders, Mid-Atlantic cyclocrossers came out in force to show their support for cycling and for our nation’s veterans.  To show their appreciation for the gracious hospitality, race promoters DCMTB always make sure the Armed Forces Retirement Home is also a beneficiary of the event.  Thousands of dollars were donated to Friends of the Soldiers Home, a charity that benefits the retirees who live on site.

The next stop in the Super 8 series will be the Ed Sander Memorial CX in Adamstown, Maryland on Sunday, November third.