U.S. champion Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com) and Meredith Miller (California Giant-Specialized) took early leads and kept them on day 2 of the Providence Cyclocross Festival presented by Interbike.
The women’s race started much like the previous day. Local racer Rebecca Wellons (Pedro’s) once again took the hole shot with Miller, Sally Annis (Cyclocrossresults.com) and Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing) right on her wheel.
However, Miller quickly made it clear that she was the strongest woman of the weekend — she took advantage of the first-lap scrum to open a five-second gap and was never caught again.
“I was ready to go today, I just decided to put the pressure on from the beginning and see what happened,” said Miller. “If I could go hard from the beginning and open a gap and then I was able to ride steady from there and do my own thing — it was more technical today so for me to be able to pick my own lines was better.”
Behind her, familiar faces fell into familiar places as Annis and Smith surged from the field to chase the raging Miller, with Annis once again putting a small gap into Smith. In the end, neither close the gap, and the California Giant rider finished with a comfortable gap and both hands in the air.
The men’s race started with a slightly different complexion due to the absence of Jamey Driscoll, who succumbed to the demands of college classwork. Johnson, Luca Damiani, Nick Weighall and Valentin Scherz took a quick lead over the rest of the field. With the lead group established, Johnson wasted no time attacking through the start-finish on the second lap and opening a gap no one could close.
“I never even saw the front until the end of the first lap,” said Johnson. “I did an attack on the pavement, then another attack a couple of corners in to get a little bit of a gap — it worked a little bit, but it was tough because the thing with today was the course was in really good shape so you could push as hard as you wanted.”
Behind him, Scherz and Damiani pushed themselves in a battle for second until a mishap left Scherz briefly on the ground and Damiani chasing solo. A brief fight for third then ensued as local Justin Lindine (Bikereg.com-Scott-Joe’s Garage) and California Giant rider Nick Weighall made contact with Scherz.
The trio appeared to be slowly making ground on Damiani, who appeared to be tiring as the race progressed. Then Scherz attacked his compatriots with a lap to go, nearly making it back to Damiani but ultimately falling short, leaving Damiani in second, Scherz in third and a distinctly international flavor on the podium.