A bit of thunder and lightning signaled a proper start to the 2018 ProCX calendar on day one of GO Cross presented by Deschutes Brewery. It’s been a stormy summer in the mid-Atlantic, so it’s only fitting that a hard rain hit the twisty 3K course in Roanoke, Va., just before elite racers rolled out for the first UCI race on this year’s calendar. [all photos © 2018 Bruce Buckley.]
Kerry Werner (Kona) and Caroline Mani (Van Dessel Factory Team) won the men’s and women’s C2 races, respectively, on a course that would have raced like a grass crit in dry conditions, but instead featured damp straightaways and slick corners.
“You had to stay on your toes quite a bit out there,” Werner said. “Stuff changed throughout the race. We started in a drizzle and then it stopped. Everything was changing, so had to take different lines every lap.”
With its newly-minted C2 UCI status, GO Cross drew top men’s contenders from around the U.S., including Werner, last year’s Go Cross winner Tristan Cowie (CTS Cycling Team), 2017 ProCX champion Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label Racing), and Jack Kisseberth (Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions Lifecare).
Unfazed by the added competition, Cowie took the holeshot to establish his place at the front early. “It was cool to see the first race of the year really deep with talent and fast dudes,” Cowie said. “It’s the first race, and questionable to see where your fitness is and how much depth you have. I was testing the waters a little and it felt good.”
Werner, Kisserberth, Ortenblad and Cowie soon traded turns at the front of the field and within two laps, they had opened a gap on the rest of the competition. “The last three laps, maybe four, it was about positioning,” Werner said. “We were all riding pretty similarly, so it was hard to differentiate. We were all riding really well technically, too. In the middle (of the race), we had (a) chase group getting close to us. We didn’t want to add any guys to the mix, so I went, Jack went, Tobin went, Tristan went. We kind of took our turns and solidified (the break).”
The pace started to take its toll on Cowie. After he yo-yoed behind the leaders a bit, he reconnected with the front group. “They started throwing the big moves and I was pretty taxed,” he recalled. “I was maxed out. I think it was Kerry who hit it pretty hard going through the pits with a lap to go, and I was like, ‘I think I’m done.’”
Kerry continued to push hard for the finish and Ortenbald also got slightly gapped off the back. Going into the final turn, Werner and Kisserberth sprinted shoulder-to-shoulder to the line with Werner taking the win by 9/100ths of a second. Ortenblad finished less than two seconds behind for third. [Check out video coverage of the race on Crosshairs Television.]
Day one at Fallon Park finished off with a strong elite women’s field, featuring Mani, Sunny Gilbert (Van Dessel Factory Team), Crystal Anthony (LIV Cycling) and Rebecca Fahringer (Stan’s NoTubes-Maxxis). Allison Arensman (JA King p/b BR’C) took the holeshot and led the field on the first lap. Mani, Gilbert and Fahringer soon took over at the front with Arensman, Caroline Nolan (Voler/Clif/Rock Lobster), Carla Williams (Deschutes Brewery) and Emily Shields (Amy D Foundation) in the mix.
After pulling out of her pedals at the start, Anthony fought her way through the field of 27 women to the front group. “I knew that it was a hot day, so I had to be aggressive getting back, but somewhat patient,” Anthony said. “So I just picked my way back lap by lap. Part of the way, I wasn’t sure, there were so many strong women there.”
Gilbert decided to make the first big move of the race and was eventually joined by teammate Mani. “I think we combined together well. We had different strengths,” Mani said. “I was better climbing and maybe technically, but on the flat sections she has a lot of power. It was a double win today.”
With the gap opening to the chase group, Fahringer went off on her own, hoping to bridge. Behind, the small chase group—which included Anthony—kept Fahringer in sight.
Although the Van Dessel teammates looked like they would go to the line together, Gilbert slid out with three laps to go. “I laid it down on the drivetrain side and jammed my derailleur and spokes,” Gilbert said. “I had to wrench my derailleur out of my spokes and single-speed with two to go to the pit.”
Fahringer pulled closer to Gilbert, but couldn’t make contact. After sitting in to get a bit of recovery, Anthony made her move on the final lap and reeled in Fahringer, claiming the third spot.
Mani, the 2017 ProCX champion, finished 10 seconds ahead of Gilbert, in 46 minutes 11 seconds. “She was strong, probably stronger than me in the flat sections.”
After taking the top two spots on the podium, Mani and Gilbert head into day two as favorites to repeat their dominant Saturday performance.
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Age||Result||IRM|
|Rank||BIB||Last Name||First Name||Country||Team||Age||Result||IRM|
|11||113||ZAVETA||Erica||USA||GARNEAU-EASTON p/b TRANSITIONS LIFECARE||29||0:48:53.02|