Laura Van Gilder (C3-Athletes Serving Athletes) and Jesse Anthony (California Giant-Specialized) both went two for two in Delaware this weekend, winning their respective races on day 2 of the Granogue Cross on Sunday.
With a faster, hillier and more technically challenging course on tap for day two in Wilmington, the elite women’s race saw a near-repeat podium performance, while a dramatic fight to the end helped sort out the places in the men’s event.
As the elite women took the start line on a second day of picture-perfect fall weather, riders and spectators alike couldn’t help wonder: Could anyone break team C3-Athletes Serving Athletes’ stronghold after Van Gilder and company claimed all three podium spots the day before?
Early on the answer looked to be no. Clad in her seasonally fashionable orange-and-black Mid-Atlantic Conference leader’s jersey, day 1’s winner led the charge down the long paved road to the hole shot under the Granogue tower.
The veteran Van Gilder established a small gap heading into the woods, with teammate Deidre Winfield trailing by 10 seconds, followed by Kemmerer. All signs were pointing to a repeat podium.
But Ann d’Ambruoso (LadiesFirst Racing) was having none of it, pursuing Kemmerer in earnest, likely still mindful of having just missed the podium the day before. Meanwhile, Winfield tried to close the gap to Van Gilder, as she did successfully on Saturday, but Van Gilder kept on the gas and the 10-second gap she created early on never really seemed to be in danger.
Going into the bell lap, with the first two podium spots looking almost certain, a charging d’Ambruoso caught Kemmerer and passed her in the run-in to the finish, good enough to prevent a C3-Athletes Serving Athletes sweep of the podium two days running.
Though Winfield fought hard to the line, she missed catching Van Gilder by a handful of seconds and had to settle for another second place. For the 45-year-old Van Gilder, racing in only her third season of cyclocross, it was yet another dominant performance.
“I wanted to push the pace again today,” she said, “and I thought it was critical to hit the run-up in the woods in first. I could sense that I had a slight gap and just kept on it, hoping to whittle down the competition. Deidre was right there chasing me the whole time, too.
“It was a little bit trickier course than yesterday, but I liked it — and I love Granogue. With all our podium finishes, this has been a really good weekend for us.”
Looking ahead to next weekend’s USGP race in Louisville, Kentucky, Van Gilder said she’s looking forward to previewing the course this week and improving on her fifth- and sixth-place finishes there two years ago. The C3 captain is eager to take her good form to Louisville, where she’ll be battling the likes of Katie Compton (Planet Bike), who Sunday won the first round of the women’s World Cup of cyclocross in Switzerland.
“We’re always battling Katie, and these are her home stamping grounds,” Van Gilder explained. “I’m looking forward to the day when we’re close enough to really race her.
“She’s a real talent, and I respect her completely. She’ll put on a show next weekend—that’s for sure.”
Anthony pulls back Scherz for the win — barely
The elite men’s race featured what was certainly the most dramatic racing of the weekend, with day 1’s bad-luck-plagued Valentin Scherz (Cyfac-Champion System Racing) throwing down a fresh challenge to just about everybody, especially the previous day’s podium: — namely, Anthony, Justin Lindine (BikeReg.com-Joe’s Garage), and Adam McGrath (Feedback-Van Dessel). In the mix, too, was Adam Myerson (Cycle Smart), who lost out on sixth place on Saturday because of a crash in the sprint finish.
With Scherz and Anthony leading a field of nearly 50 riders to the hole shot, it was Scherz establishing the early lead on the single-track snaking in and out of the woods, where the riders would have to contest a steep muddy run-up nearly a dozen times. Anthony, McGrath and road and track rider Bobby Lee (Van Dessel Factory Team) worked together in pursuit of the Swiss leader.
After a quick first lap, it was Saturday’s second-placed Lindine setting the pace with Valentin, Anthony, McGrath and Myerson. They continued applying the pressure, and the strung-out field showed it. A lap later, the third climb up to the tower saw Anthony put in a strong attack, immediately gapping Scherz, Lindine, McGrath, and Myerson, all of whom seemed to have nothing in the legs to answer the previous day’s dominant winner.
If at first it appeared that Anthony was again schooling the Swiss espoir on day 2, Scherz began to crawl his way back, dropping his companions in the process. On the muddy run-up in the woods, Scherz and Anthony were together again, and the gap back to the chase group of four was growing quickly.
With four laps to go and Scherz still pushing the pace, Anthony struggled and dropped to 15 seconds behind, and the Swiss appeared to be on his best day of the season. Behind, Lindine broke free from his group and now trailed by nearly minute in third place, with Myerson and McGrath driving a small group at 30 seconds.
Going into the bell lap, to everyone’s surprise, Scherz’s longstanding 15-second lead looked suddenly threatened by a late-charging Anthony, who cut five seconds off his deficit on the penultimate lap, and looked to be taking back more time with each pedal stroke. As Scherz entered the woods, he had just 10 seconds in hand, with Lindine still nearly a minute back in third. In fourth and fifth were Myerson and McGrath, trading pulls.
By the time Scherz started his last climb up to the iconic Granogue water tower, Anthony was just a few seconds back and closing. With race announcer Richard Fries and the crowd screaming and ringing cowbells, Scherz led down the off-camber turns and rolled onto the pavement with the opportunistic Anthony on his wheel.
Leading out the sprint, the Swiss looked strong and held a slight lead over a hundred meters, but after nearly 60 minutes of racing Anthony came around the 20-year-old Scherz in the last 25 meters to take the win by a wheel.
“I rode a pretty similar race to yesterday’s and went really hard and got a gap initially,” Anthony said. “But those guys, especially Valentin, were riding fantastically. Valentin ended up putting a gap into me. I had to slow down and ride within myself, but I always kept him in my sights.
“Halfway through the race I figured he was gone, but I never let up. On the last lap I figured I had six or seven minutes left, and I thought I might as well give it hell. I’ll either crack, crash or win, so thankfully I came out with the win.”
For the Swiss rider, it was a tough day in the saddle, having ridden in the lead on his own for much of the race and getting caught only in the last quarter lap. He put losing the finishing sprint to Anthony down to inexperience.
“I’m 20 and not a road racer,” he said. “Usually I’m not bad at sprinting, because I have the power, but I should have waited till he began to sprint.”
“At the end of the race I knew I was not feeling good,” Scherz added. “After the finish I had an asthma attack for a few minutes, so something went wrong with my body. I’m really disappointed not to win here, but Jesse gave all that he had and I gave all that I had.”
Lindine held on for third, grabbing two podiums in a row for the weekend, while Myerson took a solid fourth, handily beating McGrath to the line.
- 1. Jesse Anthony, California Giant-Specialized, 57:31
- 2. Valentin Scherz, Cyfac-Champion System Racing Team p/b Revolution, at
- 3. Justin Lindine, Bikereg.com-Joe’s Garage-Scott, 59:21
- 4. Adam Myerson, Cycle-Smart, 59:58
- 5. Adam Mcgrath, Feedback Sports-Van Dessel Cyclocross, 59:59
- 1. Laura Van Gilder, C3 Athletes Serving Athletes, 36:52
- 2. Deidre Winfield, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, 36:57
- 3. Ann D’ambruoso, LadiesFirst Racing, 37:25
- 4. Arley Kemmerer, C3-Athletes Serving Athletes, 38:17
- 5. Carolyn Popovic, Pavalleys.com, 38:38