by Marc Bertucco
(Stony Point, NY)—Tomorrow, the country’s top professionals and regional amateur cyclocross racers will line up to battle each other amongst the whipping fall winds lurking in the shadows of Harriman State Park’s Anthony Wayne Recreation area. Veteran race director and course designer Myles Romanow has put together a challenging course that is fast becoming a favorite for racers competing in the USA Cycling Pro CX series.
Ellen Noble (JAM Fund), recently tweeted, “Excited to be racing @Supercross Cup this weekend in NY! One of my favorite courses of the season.” Noble, an elite amateur, has had the kind of season of which many pros dream, earning herself no fewer than eleven top-10 finishes, including three silver medals in some of the country’s most important cross races. Noble will have to be at her best if she wants to return to the podium as her closest competitors are crushingly strong and savvy.
Leading the charge will be a pair of racers who have locked handlebars all season. In 2013’s Supercross, they even took turns (over two days of racing) standing on the top step of the podium. Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel p/b Mellow Mushroom) has a legendary resume that boasts over 350 victories. This cross season alone, she’s raced 14 times and won seven of those contests.
Arley Kemmerer (P2B Pro Cycling) has spent the second half of her cross season racing against the world’s best cross racers from Valkenburg, Netherlands, where she placed 11th in a World Cup event, to Louisville Kentucky where she handled her business, earning 5th and 6th places at the Derby City Cup races.
No longer the dark horse for victory she once was, Cassandra Maximenko (Rare Vos Racing/Van Dessel/Power Bar) has come back from potentially career-ending injuries in 2013 to claim two of her biggest wins in the past month. She was a force both at New Jersey’s HPCX and Massachusetts’s Cycle-Smart International; if the weather stays dry and she can master the technical difficulty of the Supercross course, she will be a factor this weekend.
As the women are getting ready for their podium presentation, the Elite Men will take to what is reportedly a more difficult course than last year’s race. In addition to an additional run/ride-up, recent rains have exposed more roots and rocks ensuring that spectators in their “courtside seats” will hear the unsettling thunk of rims smashing, followed immediately dby riders saying quiet prayers that they have not flatted.
In a sport that frequently favors experience over youth, it might come as a surprise to cross fans that the average age of the top six pre-race favorites is 26. Cameron Dodge (Pure Energy/Scott Mountain Bike Team), at the ripe old age of 24, has used his impressive power-to-weight ratio and mountain bike racing-honed handling skills to register 11 podium places—including 7 wins—in 2014 so far.
If “Old-Man Dodge” is a bit long in the tooth for your tastes, perhaps 20-year-old Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) is more to your liking. White was a principal protagonist in 2013’s Supercross, coming in second on Saturday to his Cannondale teammate, veteran pro Tim Johnson. In 2014, the top spot of the podium is within his reach.
In his relatively short time in the sport, 28-year-old Anthony Clark (JAM Fund), with his unbridled, crowd-pleasing energy, has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting racers to follow on and off the bike. 2014 has been good to Clark—he’s already registered nine top-10s including a few “near podiums.” His no-holds-barred style extends to social media and he recently “promised” on Twitter, “Liaten if I ever win a uci race im getting the name of the ra X e tattoeedd on my armmm life goal dream come true lets make this happen.” [SIC] Supercross very well could be his next tattoo—believe it.
Not to be outdone by the young guns, there are a dangerous group of riders “of a certain age” who are ready to take the kids to school. After successful vascular surgery to his left iliac artery in the spring of 2014, Dan Timmerman (House Industries/SimpleHuman/Richard Sachs) has spent the fall using his newly invigorated leg to step to the podium no fewer than seven times. So far the gold medal position in a big race has eluded the upstate New York native, but no one should be surprised if this were to change this weekend.
Another pre-race favorite calls Brooklyn, NY, his home-away-from-home. Recently crowned Canadian National Champion, Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel/Shimano/POC) proved that he can back up his crazy-fast race starts with a level of sustained endurance to keep world-class chasers at bay for the full race length of 60 minutes.
Dylan McNicholas (Polartec) is the men’s dark horse pick for a podium placing this year. 2011 and 2012 were stellar years for the New England native an 8th place finish at US Elite Cross Nationals. In 2013 McNicholas took a break from cross racing. And so in 2014 he’s spent the season chasing form and valuable UCI points that would give him the starting position required for a fair shot at victory. Eight top-10s in his last eight races suggest he’s well on his way back to the top.
In addition to the only UCI pro racing action within 3000 miles, some 400 amateurs including collegiate ECCC racers, friends and family are expected to call Rockland County home for the weekend.