Berden, Driscoll, McDonald and the Grinch top the podium Day 1 of Jingle Cross. © Elisabeth Reinkordt

Berden, Driscoll, Jones and the Grinch top the podium Day 1 of Jingle Cross. © Elisabeth Reinkordt

by Elisabeth Reinkordt

IOWA CITY, IOWA – The crescent moon had already set, and a crisp, clear Iowa night held host to the 25 women starters in the elite race at Day one of Jingle Cross Rock – Ladies’ Night. Big prize money on the line for the elite women, with over $7,000 at stake.

Women’s Elite Day 1

Reigning British national champion Helen Wyman, riding for Kona, led the pack through the first lap before taking a commanding lead over the rest of the field. Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies racers Amanda Miller and Jade Wilcoxson kept up a steady pace through the early part of the 40-minute race, with Teal Stetson-Lee (Luna Pro Team), Carmen Small, Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) and Mo Bruno-Roy (Bob’s Red Mill/Seven Cycles) all giving chase. But it was Wilcoxson and Krasniak that made the race for second the race to watch, as Wyman increased her lead. Krasniak and newcomer Wilcoxson took turns chasing with two laps to go, Wilcoxson’s teammate Miller flatted out of fourth place. Wilcoxson attacked Krasniak through the start/finish with one lap to go, but Krasniak overtook her by the backside of the evil Mt. Krumpet, securing second place for the French rider. Wilcoxson finished in third, just a few seconds behind Krasniak.

Wyman, riding at Jingle Cross for the first time, described the long Mt. Krumpet run-up as “brilliant,” noting that while she rode it in practice, she wore out her efforts before race time, deciding it would be faster to run.

Men’s Elite Day 1

As the men lined up, it looked like the wall of Cannondale riders on the front row might steal the show. Race favorites Tim Johnson, Jamey Driscoll, and Ryan Trebon were shoulder-to-shoulder next to Ben Berden of Raleigh Clement, Chris Jones of Rapha Focus, and Brian Matter of Geargrinder.

The real action during the men’s race was on Mt. Krumpet, where the tunes were loud and the party was on. And while the Cannondale squad held an early lead, Johnson suffered an unfortunate crash on the far end of the course, running his bike into his knee and taking him out of contention. Teammate Jamey Driscoll secured a commanding lead, however, while Jones established himself solidly in second. The real race to watch here was between Berden and Trebon, who battled it out until the last lap. In the end, it was Berden eking out the last spot on the podium from Trebon.

Driscoll, a favorite at Jingle Cross, described the course as “a little slick,” even though it was quite dry in comparison to years past. Plus, he added, it’s been snowy in Utah, where he has been riding, so this was nothing, he said. At Jingle Cross, “you have to ride within yourself the whole race,” Driscoll added. With two more days of racing on tap for the weekend, the Grinch said goodnight!