The Big Picture: CycleSmart International Cyclocross Day 2 (Elite Men)

Rafael Gagné (Red Truck – Garneu p/b Easton Cycling) dominated day 2 of CycleSmart International, soloing away from the field and holding off his pursuers to take the win. A large group of podium contenders would ride together behind him, making soft attacks to jab at one another all race. After a suspenseful race waiting for big attacks, the final podium places were decided by a blistering final lap and small group sprint. Dylan McNicholas (Polartec) rode a smart race and would out-sprint all in the chase group to claim 2nd, while Cameron Dodge (unattached) would hang onto his wheel for 3rd.

Victory cookie p/b Tart Baking Company of Northampton, MA.
Victory cookie p/b Tart Baking Company of Northampton, MA. © 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.
Scott Smith (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) took the holeshot and what looked to be an early flyer from the gun.
Scott Smith (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) took the holeshot and what looked to be an early flyer from the gun. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Half a lap in at the sand-pit and Smith still led, followed by McNicholas, Gagné, and the rest of the field.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

As we’ll see again later, Gagné put a little more body-english on the bike, looking like he had a little more trouble on the sand than other riders. Also, check out Dan Chabanov (House Industries/Withings/SimpleHuman), as featured in Episode 8 of Crosshairs Radio! Great start and an otherwise great ride, finishing in 13th!

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

After dipping out from the wooded section of the course, Gagné was already off the front and beginning to establish a solid lead.

After Gagné passed a few seconds earlier, his pursuers hit the run-up in two separate little groups:

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McNicholas, Michael Van Den Ham (Red Truck – Garneu p/b Easton Cycling), and Dodge. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.
Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling Club), Christian Favata (TRT Bicycles), Anthony Clark (Squid Bikes), Chabanov, Smith, Jack Kisseberth (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria), and Joachim Parbo (Challenge Tires).
Mark McConnell (Hot Sauce Cycling Club), Christian Favata (TRT Bicycles), Anthony Clark (Squid Bikes), Chabanov, Smith, Jack Kisseberth (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria), and Joachim Parbo (Challenge Tires). 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

A lap later, and chasers would begin to rotate at the front:

McNicholas sets the pace.
McNicholas sets the pace. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

 

Meanwhile, Gagné’s advantage only continued to grow.
Meanwhile, Gagné’s advantage only continued to grow. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.
Dodge’s turn.
Dodge’s turn. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

The sand never proved to be a defining feature in how the race would play out, but Gagné did seem to be in a little difficulty with each encounter.

Here, more body English than last time, even leading to a quick foot dab.
Here, more body English than last time, even leading to a quick foot dab. 2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Then Van Den Ham, Clark, and McConnell got their turns to drive the pace:

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

 

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.
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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

As the race progressed, Gagné made the interesting tactical choice to continue bunny-hopping the barriers. I’ll assume he was showing off a little for the crowd, but with his lead, it was still a safe move. He could have bobbled once or twice, then stopped for an espresso at the Rapha Mobile Cycle Club, and still would have held an advantage.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Meanwhile, it was still anyone’s game for the remainder of the top 5 as riders jockeyed for position.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Over the last half lap, McConnell led through the sand, and up the run-up into the woods.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

From the finish line, I looked across the course to see riders emerging from the woods. Clark looked to be fading from the group, apparently having attacked too early in the woods section, with Van Den Ham and Dodge leading the charge.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Around the final corners, Gagné even slowed to watch the race unfold behind him. As Gagné crossed the line, the sprint for 2 and 3 was developing further down the finishing straight.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Out of nowhere, McNicholas has the advantage and rides into 2nd place, with Dodge firmly latched to his wheel but unable to come around in time. McConnell took another 4th place on the weekend, and Van Den Ham appeared to have sprinted too early, and would settle for 5th.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.

Gagné, post-race, pre-giant-cookie.

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2015 John Kavouris. www.johnkavouris.com.
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