Race Preview by Cindy Brennan
Cyclo-cross turns its attention to New England this weekend as the Craft Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester kicks off the 2015 Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series. This year’s race remixes the classic New England event, with an exciting new course at the legendary Stage Fort Park venue. Craft Sportswear, a long-time partner of many New England teams, takes on the title sponsor role and local craft brewery Ipswich Ale Brewery becomes the beer sponsor.
For all that’s new, though, the same partners that have been central to this event for years remain steadfast. Verge Sport continues as the Series title sponsor, with Stan’s NoTubes and Cycle-Smart at its side, pillars of the New England cyclo-cross community, while SRAM remains technical sponsor once again. Race Director Paul Boudreau, with host club Essex County Velo, have year after year created New England’s biggest cyclo-cross race while maintaining what’s at the center of the event: its heart.
“SRAM is honored to be a small part of one of cyclo-cross racing’s legendary fields of play at Gloucester’s Stage Fort Park,” says Chris Zigmont of SRAM. He continues, “Cyclo-cross is very important to SRAM, Zipp, and Quarq from a product perspective, and there is a passion for the discipline that is deeply rooted with us. GP Gloucester represents what ‘cross means to North America.”
Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with its grand ocean views, will welcome some of the top racers in the world to compete for the honor of winning the illustrious race. Both men’s and women’s US National Cyclo-cross champions, Jeremy Powers and Katie Compton, will be in attendance, battling for the win with the best ‘cross racers around.
“This weekend is going to be a great. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone on Boston’s North Shore and having a great two days of racing!” says Jeremy Powers of Aspire Racing, who is undefeated here for the past two years. He doesn’t discount his formidable competition, however, adding “With so many great riders coming, Timmerman, the entire Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld team: Hyde, Trebon, and White. I’m sure I’ll have my hands full. I’m looking forward to a good battle.”
The Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series, kicking off its season at Gloucester, is a season-long competition not just for the Elite racers. Two new points competitions have been added to the eleven race categories that span masters, juniors, men, and women. Dedicated to gender parity, the only UCI cyclo-cross series in the US – and the oldest – has added a 35+ Elite women’s category and a 45+ Category 3 women’s category.
“We’ve been working on a solution for our fast master women racers,” said Verge Series President Adam Myerson. “We started by giving the category 4 women their own race a few seasons ago, and now that field fills, along with the category 3 women’s field. For the first time, we’ve now filled the elite women’s field, as those developing riders progress and upgrade. Adding a 35+ and 45+ class to pre-existing fields is next step in growing and retaining female participants in the Series.”
Follow the race with live tweets at @GPGloucester and @VergeNECXS, and stay tuned for detailed race reports for every day of Series racing this season.