Chris Sheppard showed off his recently earned Canadian national champion’s jersey Sunday while notching his fourth series win at Cross Crusade finale in Oregon, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the consistently built lead of overall series winner Shannon Skerritt. Wendy Williams left no doubt who was the top woman this year by claiming her fifth race of the series and securing her third consecutive overall win.
A hardy group of 1,050 riders braved the overcast all-day drizzle that awaited them at Barton Park along the Clackamas River about 20 miles southeast of Portland. Although a week of rain ensured the course would be covered with a healthy layer of greasy mud, it traversed many of the hard-packed roads and berms of the county maintenance yard adjacent to the park and was mostly non-technical and super fast throughout the day.
With runner-up Alice Pennington (Team S&M) racing to sixth- and 10th-place finishes at the USGP New Belgium Cup in Colorado over the weekend rather than staying home for the final Crusade race, series leader Wendy Williams (River City Bicycles) found a new batch of challengers to push her around the messy route. Lead changes between Williams’ teammate Brigette Brown and Sunnyside Sports’ Serena Bishop, who were locked in their own battle for the series’ last podium spot, soon boiled down to just Bishop and Williams after several laps.
Williams eventually got the gap she needed over Bishop and steadily built a lead, gaining nearly a minute by the finish. Bishop powered her way to second, her best result of the series, but Brown finished third on the day and also hung onto her third-place overall finish. Pennington’s previous three second-place finishes and two firsts were enough to earn her the series runner-up spot despite her absence Sunday.
In the men’s race, Sheppard (Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano) needed about half a lap to pull away from the chasing field, but with Skerritt (Corsa Concepts) having wrapped up the series overall the week before, Sheppard knew he was just racing for the day’s glory and to maintain his overall position.
Sheppard had scored four series wins and finished second to Ryan Trebon during week three, but he missed races five and six on Halloween weekend and skipped race seven in order to compete at the Canadian championships in Toronto last weekend. Even after throwing out two races in the best-six-of-eight series, Skerritt’s collection of podium places, including his two wins, was just enough to stay ahead of Sheppard no matter how they finished Sunday.
Nevertheless, Sheppard’s leftover form from his nationals preparation was apparent as he stormed over the road-like course and set out to get a win wearing his new jersey. Skerritt, usually the first hound trying to nip at Sheppard’s heels, had flatted on the first lap and floundered in one of the few deep-mud sections. His Corsa Concepts teammate Aaron Tuckerman took up the chase while Skerritt got a fix and slowly picked his way back toward the top 10.
Sheppard managed to avoid flats or mechanicals on the rocky course and cruised in comfortably for the win. Tuckerman’s early chase paid off with a second-place finish, his best result of the 2010 series and good enough to move him onto the overall podium in third. River City Bicycles’ Ian Brown cruised in next for third on the day and fourth overall. Skerritt nearly cracked the top 10 after his chase back but had to settle for 11th. It was his worst result of the series but didn’t affect the overall.
- 1. Chris Sheppard, Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano
- 2. Aaron Tuckerman, Corsa Concepts
- 3. Ian Brown, River City Bicycles
- 4. Ben Thompson, Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano
- 5. Donald Reeb, Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano
- 6. Eric Sheagley, Rocky Mountain Bicycles-Shimano
- 7. Brett Luelling, Buy Local Cycling
- 8. Patrick Jackson, Buy Local Cycling
- 9. Michael Gallagher, Cyclocross Racing-Blue
- 10. Ross Brody, Buy Local Cycling
- 1. Wendy Williams, River City Bicycles
- 2. Serena Bishop, Sunnyside Sports
- 3. Brigette Brown, River City Bicycles
- 4. Brenna Lopez-Otero, Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team
- 5. Anne Davis Usher, Bridgetown Velo
- 6. Laura Winberry, Elite Endurance
- 7. Heather Clark, Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care Racing Team
- 8. Renee Scott, Sunnyside Sports
- 9. Tina Brubaker, Vanilla Workshop
- 10. Nissy Cobb, River City Bicycles