This weekend's racing marked the 25th edition of the Cycle-Smart Northampton International, and today's races were a fitting finale to such a historic event. Also the 4th round of the 2015 Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series presented by Stan's NoTubes and Cycle-Smart, today's battles, spanning fifteen categories of racing, were the stuff of legend.
The duel between Pan-American U23 Cyclocross Champion Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) and Emma White (Cyclocrossworld) has been going on since they were kids, and this weekend was an epic continuation of the saga. Noble's decisive win yesterday moved her into the Verge NECXS overall leader's jersey, and today White was hungry for a win of her own. From the start, the two took firm control of the race, Jena Greaser (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) on their wheels. Kate Lysakowski (Joe's Garage) and Cassie Maximenko (Van Dessel) chased, but it was no use: White and Noble had gone clear. Greaser chased, Maximenko behind her, and Lysakowski back further yet. With one to go, after working together all race to open a huge gap, Noble and White sat up, eyeing each other. Neither wanted to face the wind, neither wanted to give the other a chance to attack. Noble launched, but couldn't shake a determined White; White responded with an attack Noble just couldn't match. Just like that, White was set free—and she kept charging. White took the win, and Noble claimed second. Third was decided in a tight sprint. Greaser and Maximenko hit the finishing straight together, but in the end the last podium spot was won by Maximenko. Lysakowski rounded out the top five.
Noble's second-place finish was enough for her to retain both the U23 and the overall women's lead in the Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series.
Next up, Scott Smith jumped from the whistle in the Elite Men's race, leading the charge into the first turns of the race. It was Raphael Gagne (Red Truck/Garneau p/b Easton), though, intent on claiming the Series lead, who launched an early attack. Gagne, the Canadian National Cyclo-cross Champion, was untouchable today, despite the efforts of a very capable band of seven chasing him. In that group were local favorites Anthony Clark (Squid Bikes) and Smith, along with Gagne's teammate and yesterday's winner Michael van den Ham. Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling Club), Dylan McNicholas (Polartec), and Cameron Dodge rounded out the chasers. Gagne's lead grew past twenty seconds; meanwhile, no moves from the chase stuck. The battle came down to a final sprint, one that even Gagne turned to watch after posting up for a well-deserved victory salute. Charging down the finishing stretch, Dylan McNicholas powered his way to second place over Dodge in a forceful sprint. McConnell claimed fourth, and van den Ham made fifth.
Gagne claimed the Series leader's jersey in the overall competition, and Smith moves into the U23 lead. Both contests will be close heading into NBX Gran Prix of Cyclo-cross weekend on December 5th and 6th. The finale of the 2015 edition of the Verge New England Cyclo-cross Series presented by Stan's NoTubes and Cycle-Smart promises fireworks in fifteen categories, many of which will be very close competitions for the overall Series lead.