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Undefeated Driscoll claims U23 crown
By Wendy Booher
Cyclocrossworld.com teammates Lyne Bessette and Jeremy Powers capped off the Verge New England Championship Cyclocross Series on Sunday with wins in the elite races.
Despite being besieged by illness this ’cross season, Bessette went on to clinch the series title, having won five of the seven races. Men’s leader Jesse Anthony (Jamis), in his first year as an elite racer, easily pocketed the overall win with consistent top-three finishes in each of the seven races.
As recently as Friday, Bessette wound up in the hospital after experiencing severe cramping, which caused her to skip Saturday’s race in order to rally for the finale in Warwick, Rhode Island. Saturday saw Rebecca Wellons (Ridley) take over the series lead from Bessette, who expressed her desire to return, regain the lead and win the series. In what has become her usual fashion, Bessette went from the gun and steadily strung out a lead over the course of the 40-minute race.
“Today I kind of took it easy the first couple of laps,” said Bessette. “I rode the course only twice before the race so I was a little stuffed at the start, but after that I started feeling better and better and my legs were turning good. I was pretty smooth through the course and that’s what I wanted.”
Behind her unfolded a time trial of sorts and solo efforts trained on the person in front fueled the pace of Amy Wallace (RGM Watches–Richard Sachs), Maureen Bruno Roy (IF), and Anna Milkowski (Velo Bella–Kona). Wallace’s third-place finish in Saturday’s race inspired ambition and she felt confident in another podium finish for today’s race.
“I had a fast start right behind Lyne and just held that position,” said Wallace. “I knew it would be helpful to not get bogged down by girls in the start, especially with the sand. I knew both sand sections were somewhat rideable, but not really the fastest thing to do sometimes. I knew there’d be a spot where I’d get bogged down so I knew that I’d ride into that as far as I could and then just run.”
Series leader-for-a-day Wellons led a last-lap charge in pursuit of the fifth podium spot but Natasha Elliott (Stevens) responded with a surge of her own to round out the podium behind Bessette, Wallace, Bruno Roy, and Milkowski.
The dogfight of the day
Powers, who suffered illness the week prior to last weekend’s Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, stunned the field from the start by opening up an instant 10-second lead over series leader Jesse Anthony (Jamis), Todd Wells (GT), Chris Jones (Nerac) and Tim Johnson (Cannondale–Leer–Cyclocrossworld.com).
Powers held that lead for two laps until two-time national champion Wells closed the gap — partly by bunny-hopping the course’s only barriers, which gave him a speed advantage on the exit. Powers reacted by muscling his way through the sandy sections but he couldn’t shake the mighty Wells, whose late-season start seems to pay dividends in the end.
“Todd’s riding extremely strong,” said Powers. “He was riding stronger than me but he was a little sloppy on one of the corners in the backside and he crashed, so that gave me five seconds. Then, because of that he had to switch bikes so that gave me another five seconds, so I was able to put him on the ropes just enough to get him to the point where he has a line.”
Wells’s crash bent his derailleur 90 degrees outward, making a bike switch essential. Wells summoned all energy to catch up and overtake Powers briefly until — with fewer than 50 meters to go — Powers outkicked him at the finish.
“He had two bike lengths on me going into the last corner but I was able to close it down,” said Powers. “It was very nice to win, especially since last weekend when people were writing me off because I was sick in Portland – I was pretty sick and I wasn’t able to compete at the top.”
In the U23 race, the indefatigable Jamey Driscoll swept the series by winning all seven races and posting his best finish today in the elite race. He clinched fifth place after breaking free of a group containing Mark McCormack (Clif), Adam Myerson (Nerac), Osmond Bakker (Stevens), and Justin Spinelli (RGM Watches–Richard Sachs).
“I got my classic bad start, which seems to work out because it makes me not gas myself for the first lap and so I’m able to move up once things spread out,” said Driscoll. “That’s what I was able to do when I first got up to McCormack and Myerson. I felt like I could up the pace there so I decided to try that alone and it ended up working. Then I was just on a solo ride to the end where I was slowly catching Chris Jones.”
Driscoll managed to overtake Jones in the final lap and finish fifth overall behind Powers, Wells, Johnson, and Anthony.
Final preparations for the USA Cycling cyclocross national championships are under way and departures from points Northeast are scheduled throughout the week. Milkowski will take a break from grad-school exams to race in the 30-plus category on Friday and the elite race on Sunday. Wellons leaves behind her job as an elementary school music teacher to race alongside Milkowski. Wallace and the RGM–Richard Sachs team depart on Wednesday, and Powers leaves Friday to ready himself for the elite men’s race on Sunday. The championships start Thursday and end on Sunday, December 16.
NBX Grand Prix of Cross
Warwick, RI. Dec. 9
1. Jeremy Powers, Cyclocrossworld.com, 57:16
2. Todd Wells, Team GT, 57:16
3. Tim Johnson, Cannondale-Leer-Cyclocross World.com, 58:49
4. Jesse Anthony, Jamis, 59:03
5. Jamey Driscoll, Fiordifrutta, 59:47
6. Christopher Jones, Nerac Pro Cycling, 1:00:00
7. Mark Mccormick, Team Clif Bar, 1:00:53
8. Adam Myerson, Nerac, 1:00:53
9. Justin Spinelli, RGM Watches-Richard Sachs, 1:00:53
10. Osmond Bakker, Stevens Cross, 1:00:53
1. Lyne Bessette, Cyclocrossworld.com, 41:07
2. Amy Wallace, RGM Watches-Richard Sachs, 42:10
3. Maureen Bruno Roy, Independent Fabrication, 42:52
4. Anna Milkowski, Velo Bella-Kona, 43:10
5. Natasha Elliott, Stevens Cross, 43:13
6. Rebecca Wellons, Ridley Factory Team, 43:20
7. Erica Yozell Miller, Fort Factory Team, 44:15
8. Pauline Frascone, Independent Fabrication-Kempner, 44:26
9. Marci Titus Hall, Desalvo Custom Cycles
10. Stephanie White, UNH