by Molly Hurford
Thanks to a switch in scheduling in the MAC Series that pushes the Cat 3 racers to the end of the day, the Elite Men and Women have bigger crowds out to watch the races in the MAC, and Granogue rewards those spectators with a viewer-friendly course that brings them in contact with their favorite racers again and again. Racers reported the course as fast, hilly, and quite windy, the gusts in particular making things difficult for participants.
The women took to the course just before two o’clock, earlier than usual for those used to racing in the Verge and Shimano Series in New England. Despite the change the racing was as fast as ever, with a hard charge up the pavement start-finish (similar to Providence Cyclocross Festival’s hilly start) before turning onto the dirt.
Laura Van Gilder (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes), for the second race in as many weeks, soloed to victory. Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing) took second, with Nicole Thiemann (Team CF) in third. Arley Kemmerer (C3/Athletes Serving Athletes) took the hole shot, but Van Gilder had other plans, and “attacked off the start line.” A group of three comprising Smith, Thiemann, and Crystal Anthony (Ladies First Racing) formed, chasing Van Gilder.
Andrea Smith, who finished in second place, narrated the race for us at Cyclocross Magazine, saying, “The first lap there were five or six of us together and Laura had a good gap and so three or four of us were working together. Crystal [Anthony] was about to bridge up and she did for about a lap and stayed steady. It was a tough course. The hardest part was probably the back side run up slash ride up and then the pavement sections are deceptively hard. The finish with the tailwind was really nice!”
The wind may have proved difficult for riders who were left to fend for themselves, but it provided added challenge to the race, and the tailwind on the finishing straight nearly negated the benefits of drafting another rider, creating an interesting change to the standard race tactics used at Granogue.
Finishing in fourth, Andrea Smith’s Ladies First teammate Crystal Anthony echoed Smith’s sentiments, saying, “I had a good start — well, I crashed at the start but I was able to bridge up to Laura … I was kind of on my own but Andrea and Nicole were riding strong behind me and caught me and I tried to hang on. The barriers were tough, it came down a to a sprint.”
Nicole Thiemman had a great race, finishing strong in third. She told us, “It was fast! Arley got the hole shot and everyone kind of went. It seemed like it seperated pretty fast. Laura got off the front and then it was me, Crystal and Andrea just trading places. My favorite part was the run up – I have these long legs, gotta put them to good use! It was a super fun course.”
Winner Laura Van Gilder was very happy with her performance. “I attacked just off the start line along the road, I wanted to get a clear shot at the first lap and get to the various obstacles with enough room to decide how to attack them. I’ve raced this enough that I really like this course but the lead ins to some of them were a little different …
“I was able to hold my position in the front the entire race, I knew people were nipping at my heels but I just kept the pressure on the entire time. I felt I had a very clean race so I was very happy with that. I think to put time on your ceompetitors you have to have good endurance and skills but you also have to ride clean.”
Her favorite part? “My favorite part of the course was actually the muddy hill in the woods because it brought me back to my mountain biking roots where you jsut want to make it up and I did every time and it was a sort of a ‘yay rah’ section, even though it was a tough section. There were a lot of elements of the course that I liked today.”
Check out the men’s race here.
Stay tuned for full results, video interviews.