Crystal Anthony, Raphael Gagne win Cycle-Smart opener

Anthony takes off from the gun and holds her edge to the line, but Gagne had to bounce back from a late crash

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Crystal Anthony (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Factory) emerged victorious on Saturday in day one of the 23rd annual Cycle-Smart International.

The weekend’s racing, held at Look Park in Northampton, Massachusetts, serves as rounds five and six of the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series and rounds seven and eight of the Verge New England Cyclocross Series.

In the elite women’s race, Anthony quickly took the helm, chased by Arley Kemmerer (C3-Twenty 20 Cycling); Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel-Mellow Mushroom Pizza); teammates Emma White and Maghalie Rochette (; Natasha Elliott (Rare Vos Racing-Stevens); and Amanda Carey (Stan’s NoTubes Elite).

But despite the pursuit Anthony only solidified her lead and took the victory. Van Gilder took second, besting Kemmerer in an explosive sprint.

In the elite men’s race, Mike Garrigan (Van Dessel Factory Team) took the lead in the first lap with a characteristically strong start, followed by Gagne; Jeremy Durrin (Optum); Dan Timmerman (House Industries-Richard Sachs); Curtis White (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld); and Evan McNeely (Norco Factory Team).

Gagne attacked early and often, pressuring the group to chase repeatedly. Meanwhile, Shawn Milne (Keough Cyclocross-Felt Bicycles) bridged from the chase group to connect with the leaders, helping to negate Gagne’s attacks and launching some of his own.

Durrin eventually flatted out of the lead group, which disintegrated under the pressure in the final two laps. Milne attacked, gaining a significant advantage until Gagne put in a tremendous surge.

Not even an over-the-handlebars crash in the woods could stop the Rocky Mountain rider. Gagne reconnected with Milne and in a pavement sprint beat the crit racer at the line.

Racing continues on Sunday with round two.

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