Ellen Noble (JAM Fund/NCC/Vittoria) took Day 1 in the Elite Women’s field of CycleSmart International, ahead of Emma White (CyclocrossWorld Development Team, 2nd) and Kathleen Lysakowski (Joe’s Garage CX p/b BikeReg, 3rd).
Despite recent unseasonably warm weather, cloudy skies kept the day cool, and a sprinkling of rain the night before gave course sections an appropriate amount of tack. While the northeast has yet to experience true “cross weather,” it was by no means an unpleasant day to pedal a bike.
After the start whistle, Noble technically took the holeshot, but White countered immediately on the next straight to lead the first portion of lap 1.
Noble allowed White to remain at the front early in the race and soon, the two of them had opened a small gap on the closest chasers, with Greaser fighting to remain in contact.
The course featured a pro-only downhill switchback section which turned out to be quite the feature, drawing a large crowd to spectate. All racers approached the section gingerly, with some having more success than others:
Many of her race-mates equally struggled with the challenging feature: Kate Northcott (West Hill Shop), Jenny Ives (Verge Test Pilot/Jamis), and Carol Jane Sansome (Foundry Cycles) all ran at least a portion of the same section with Bowman. Riders like Megan Chinburg (Team S&M) who did manage to ride it were rewarded with ‘free’ time on their rivals and abundant cheers from the crowd.
Back at the front, White and Noble would ride together for about two laps. Meanwhile, Greaser was unable to match the pace set by the two leaders, drifting into no-mans-land between leaders and a chasing Lysakowski and Maximenko.
While Noble and White would continue to work together, Lysakowski and Maximenko would slowly reel in Greaser. By the time chasers reached the stair set/run up heading into the woods, Greaser would be caught.
Moments later, exiting the woods, Noble and White would drop back down to the grass sections of course with just under a 20 second gap amassed on their pursuers.
After a hard chase, Lysakowski still had gas in the tank to turn screws against Greaser, with Maximenko sitting a second or two behind in 5th place.
Noble and White wouldn’t stay together long, though: by the time Noble had reached the other, steeper, rooty run-up back into the woods, she had established a 12 second gap on White.
Steep. Rooty. I’ll admit, the picture does not do it adequate justice: ignore what might look like a line on the left. It’s not. The only way up it involves a dismount.
With two laps to go, Greaser, Lysakowski, and Maximenko were still battling one-another at the run-up for the final podium spot.
Noble would ecstatically cruise in for the well-deserved 1st place, followed a few seconds later by White. However, 3rd place was still up for grabs.
Over the final lap, Greaser and Lysakowski would open a small gap on Maximenko, who would go on to finish 5th. At the final turn, Greaser and Lysakowski were still together, and wound up for a long two-up sprint!
Closing in toward the finish and it was still a drag race.
Even with ~10 meters to the line, a clear winner had yet to emerge…
At the last moment, Greaser was maxed-out and Lysakowski found the extra watts to take 3rd place by less than a bike length and round out the podium.
Up next, the Elite Men.