by Lauren LeClaire
SUFFERN, N.Y.—Racers faced cold and slippery conditions on Saturday at the SuperCross Cup cyclocross race in Suffern, N.Y.
It was the second year at Rockland Community College, on a course that served up rolling hills and tricky off-cambers. The changing weather was a major factor in course conditions in the Elite races.
Kerry Werner (Kona Factory CX Team) of Birdsboro, Penn. and Canadian National Champion Christel Ferrier Bruneau (SAS-Macogep) conquered the conditions and the course, riding away to solo victories.
No Falling Maple Leaf at SuperCross Cup
The leading women in the Vittoria Series, Emma White (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing), were not in attendance in Suffern, which left the door wide open for other riders to seize valuable points. Cassie Maximenko (VanDessel/Atom Composite Wheels) led the charge by taking the holeshot, and cemented her presence in the lead group. Conditions would quickly change and turn things over to Ferrier Bruneau. After a single lap of racing, Ferrier Bruneau established a small gap and continued to motor away as the race went on.
“The victory with the jersey (Canadian National Championship) was very nice,” said Ferrier Bruneau in English, her second language. She earned her maple-leaf emblazoned kit earlier this month. “The race was good. It was mostly me in the rain. I am good on some parts, I like a technical race.”
Maximenko would slot into second place after battling the deteriorating weather conditions. She would finish 53 seconds behind Saturday’s winner, and a give herself a little gap from a charging Kathryn Cumming (Jalapeno Cycling), who was third.
“I got the holeshot; it was a little squirrelly, but I got it. And then I just kind of battled with Christel (Ferrier Bruneau) and Ruby (West) for that first lap,” she said. “Christel started to gap us on the climbing, so I decided that I had to pass Ruby to try and not let Christel get away. She still managed to get away, but I kept my head down and kept the foot on the gas and held on for second, even though Kate Cumming was charging hard. I tried to keep it pretty clean, ride a good, solid, steady pace the whole time. I just never gave up and finally had a good Day One.”
Cumming attacked Ruby West (Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld) and Regina Legge (Trek Cyclocross Collective), moving to try to reel in Maximenko.
“The start was crazy, with all the loose gravel,” exclaimed Cumming. “I think people were probably running low (tire) pressure. Everyone slid everywhere. But then things opened up quickly in the grass, and it just kind of became [important to] hammer the climbs. And when you fall, just make sure it doesn’t last too long.”
Werner, White and Willsey Fight for the W
For the Elite Men, it would be Werner who would excel in the slick conditions. Werner would lead out the bunch and eventually escape the duo of Cannondale p/b CyclocrossWorld riders, Curtis White and Cooper Willsey. With a light drizzle turning into a steady rain, riders and mechanics faced challenges throughout the final contest of the damp day, where many would struggle to adjust tire pressure to keep up with the changing course conditions.
“So we started with my tire pressure a little high,” explained Werner. “And then the rain started coming down a little bit more. It’s kind of an interesting course because 90 percent of it you can run with 20 PSI, but then you hit the slick section right before the finish and there are lots of rocks and roots, so you are risking a flat if you do that. I took a bike change with two laps and that seemed to do it, so I was pretty comfortable out there. I held a steady pace and gradually got a gap, and stayed on it.”
Werner would ride to his fourth ProCX win of the season, maintaining a 40-second gap over second-place finisher and Vittoria Series overall leader Curtis White. White and Willsey would battle back and forth until the very end, where White would edge out his 21-year-old teammate in a sprint finish.
“First, we were battling ourselves against the course. And then just fighting each other,” said White. “The first couple of laps I was in the lead group with Kerry and Coop. Kerry was on a really good day. He’s technically a very good rider. I was struggling through the technical parts early on. It was a very technical course. We really had to get it dialed. Unfortunately, it took me a longer to figure out than some guys.
“A couple trips to the pit and I got the tire pressure sorted out, then I started hooking up just right and rallied towards the end. And Cooper was riding exceptionally well towards the end. We were really going at it, which was fun.”
Willsey’s third-place finish would catapult him into the Men’s U23 Vittoria Series leader jersey. He, is now tied with Nick Lando (Hands-On Cycling), who finished 10th on Saturday.
“Having Kerry and Curtis and Justin (Lindine) and Jeremy (Powers) out there, I knew it would be a hard race,” said Willsey. “The rain came in, so sure enough it got kind of slippery. You saw everyone switching to lower (tire) pressures out there. Third lap or so, Curtis and Kerry pitted. It ended up just being me and Kerry. And Kerry got a gap on me and just rode away. He seems to have an extra gear. It ended up being me and Curtis in the end, and Curtis got me in the sprint. He just passed me before the last wooded section, and I could not come around him in the finish.”
Lindine (Apex / NBX / Hyperthreads) would finish fourth and Powers (Aspire Racing) would finish sixth after a brief hiatus to investigate his recent heart issues.
The weekend provides points for Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX) and the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart.
Full results below. Stay tuned for coverage from Day 2 of the 2017 SuperCross Cup.
2017 SuperCross Day 1 Results - Elite Women
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2017 SuperCross Day 1 Results - Elite Men
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