Jonathan Page (Planet Bike) scored a rare win on this side of the Atlantic on Saturday, riding away from all challengers on a muddy course in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Earlier, Canadian Natasha Elliott (Louis Garneau) calmed her nerves before the upcoming Canadian championships, pulling away from a group of five on the last lap to take the win ahead of ’cross newcomer Amanda Carey (Kenda/Trainwitheric.com) of Idaho. Third place went to Elliott’s fellow Canadian Lyne Bessette (October Factory Racing), a former winner at Gloucester. Bessette has come out of retirement this year to compete in a few New England cyclocross races ahead of a planned assault on Hawaii’s Ironman triathlon.
The first day of the two-day Great Brewers Gloucester Grand Prix of Cyclocross was held under warm but rainy condition with occasional gusty winds coming off the Atlantic, which is just feet from the course. The Gloucester venue is the most popular ’course in New England for its scenery and fast grassy corners. Mud is a rarity.
“I had to laugh this morning when I woke up to a downpour,” said Page, who favors difficult conditions. “You can’t not have too much fun when you are a grown man riding around in the mud. And I get paid to do it so it’s a hell of a job.”
Page calls neighboring New Hampshire home, but can’t remember the last time he raced in Gloucester, as he focuses on European racing.
This early season he’s been racing a bit more than usual in the U.S., but has been frustrated by his results, despite evident good form. Last week’s USGP races in Wisconsin were especially frustrating, when he rolled two tires. He said he spent a lot of time the past week gluing and re-gluing tires.
At Gloucester he charged off the front almost from the gun, taking Tim Johnson (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) along for part of a lap. Page had a gap on Johnson by the end of the first lap and Johnson’s teammate Jamey Driscoll bridged up to Johnson and then pulled ahead. Driscoll briefly got to within ten seconds of Page, but never made contact. The two raced separately for the rest of the race, as Page steadily increased his gap, to the cheers of a van load of supporters and family who came down from New Hampshire.
Page’s winning margin was 1 minute, 47 seconds.
Behind, Johnson was joined by Chris Jones (Champion System) and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) for much of the race. With two laps to go Jacques-Maynes was dropped and on the last lap Jones took advantage of a small bobble by Johnson to attack and take the last spot on the podium.
Johnson was still suffering from a shoulder injury from a crash in Seattle two weeks ago, and said he couldn’t stand up to sprint out of corners. “Makes it kind of hard to race cyclocross,” he said.
In the women’s race, Elliott got caught in traffic at the start, but took the lead before the end of the first lap. She was soon joined by Bessette and Carey, an endurance mountain biker trying cyclocross for the first time this season. Maureen Bruno-Roy (Seven) and Sue Butler (Monavie-Cannondale) were close behind.
The five came together for the start of the last lap, and Bessette and Carey tried several attacks, but Elliott waited for a greasy off camber section, about a half kilometer from the finish, before throwing in a huge attack, opening a 40-bike length gap by the end.
Men’s results | Click for: ( Women’s results )