PROVIDENCE, R.I. (VN) — Laura Van Gilder (C3-Mellow Mushroom) made up for some recent performances she considered subpar by outpowering mountain bike star Mary McConneloug (Kenda-Seven) to win Saturday’s race at the Providence Cyclocross Festival.
On a hot and sunny day that had riders installing bottle cages and taking water handups in the pits, Van Gilder, McConneloug (Kenda-Seven) and Sally Annis (Crossresults.com-JRA Cycles) took the front early in Roger Williams Park.
Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill) and Crystal Anthony (LadiesFirst Racing) led a chase group early on the sinuous course.
Andrea Smith (Ladies First Racing), coming off two breakthrough rides in Gloucester, Massachusetts, last weekend, started out strong on the first half lap, but crashed near the pits and fell out of contention (She was able to pull herself back into seventh place by the finish).
McConneloug grab the $250 prize for the fastest first lap, with Van Gilder tucked in behind). Annis soon joined the pair, and the threesome worked together to slowly increase its gap ahead of the chase.
With two to go Van Gilder and McConneloug dropped Annis, and with one to go it was a two-woman race.
Van Gilder is a noted sprinter in just her fourth season in cyclocross, so McConneloug tried everything she could to shed her before the final lap, with little success.
“I tried to keep her on the ropes, but it turned out she is the one who tired me out,” McConneloug said afterward. On the last lap, McConneloug was cramping, but still managed to get a gap on Van Gilder, who stumbled on a remount, scraping her thigh on her rear brake.
But the veteran Mellow Mushroom rider dragged herself back up to the leader and then attacked her with about 400 meters to go. She had a 10 bike-length gap by the time the hit the final paved finish stretch.
“I tried to get on her, but there wasn’t even a draft back there, she was so far ahead,” McConneloug said.
Van Gilder was satisfied that she showed she has developed the technical skills to match her famous sprint. And by attacking McConneloug a minute or so out from the line, she also showed her power extends beyond the finish straight.
“It was good to win here, I wasn’t too good last week (in Gloucester),” Van Gilder said at the finish. “It’s my first time in Providence and it’s really a good course and a great crowd here.”
Annis held onto third and Crystal Anthony charged in for fourth. Mo Bruno Roy, who was prominent in the chase group early on the day, got some course tape tangled in her rear wheel and had to take a bike change. She finished 10th.
McConneloug and Van Gilder each mounted bottle cages and raced with bottles on the steamy day, and officials allowed riders to take hand-up bottles in the pit zone.