Laura Van Gilder (C3-Mellow Mushroom) and Luke Keough (Champion System-Keough Cyclocross) on Sunday clinched the overall titles in the inaugural Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series presented by Verge.
Neither won the series finale — day two of the NBX Gran Prix of Cross went to Andrea Smith (LadiesFirst Racing) and Christian Heule (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com).
But both Van Gilder and Keough made the podium in the final round, and that was enough to claim the Shimano series crowns.
The second day of racing at the NBX Gran Prix of Cross was a bit more technically demanding than the first, with tight, loose corners on the upper woods section and a second sand section ending in a steep run-up. The hurdles had been moved from a flat approach to an uphill and caused problems for racers throughout the day.
The first half of the women’s race saw an unusually large group — 13 riders — on the front. Smith, who won on Saturday, was patrolling the front, joined by Sally Annis (Crossresults.com-JRA Cycles), Van Gilder and Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles).
The tough course whittled the front group to five with a lap and a half remaining. Smith, Bruno Roy, Annis, Van Gilder and Smith’s teammate Crystal Anthony had made the cut, but unlike Saturday’s race, team tactics didn’t play a role.
The high pace kept all riders under pressure, continually creating small gaps that each burned matches to close. Bruno Roy began to slip off the back on the final lap and, as the group entered the sand with little more than half a lap remaining, Anthony also started to fall off the pace.
On the exit from the sand, Smith was first wheel and Van Gilder slipped on a tight, rooted corner, hitting the ground. This was Smith’s opportunity and she seized it, building a lead of 10 bike lengths in an instant.
Van Gilder turned herself inside out to close the gap but was unable to make contact. Smith was able to raise her hands alone in victory.
Behind, Van Gilder couldn’t match an acceleration by Annis on the pavement and came across the line third — good enough for the series victory.
“I’m so happy to have won this,” said Van Gilder, who races on Dura-Ace. “Shimano has done so much and the series is such a fantastic event. I wanted to support it and am so proud of winning.”
Smith finished second overall with Annis third.
As in the women’s race, the men’s contest saw a large group out front early. Adam Myerson (SmartStop-MOB) drove the pace into the sand pit, Texan Bryan Fawley (Orbea USA) took over, and finally last year’s winner, Nick Keough, followed by his teammate and brother Luke, were in charge of a group of 15.
At six laps to go, Heule and Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com teammate Jamey Driscoll found themselves off the front with Keough in a repeat of Saturday’s racing, ahead of a driving group led by Jerome Townsend (SmartStop-MOB) and Dylan McNicholas (Cyclocrossworld.com). McNicholas bridged up, then attacked immediately.
At five to go, with McNicholas back in, Heule attacked. Keough tried to cover, but was left dangling and returned to the group. The next move came when Heule was up to 10 seconds and Driscoll took a dig. Keough tried to cover this move as well, but went down hard in a soft corner, leaving Driscoll clear to join his teammate.
With Driscoll and Heule working at the front, the chase was left to McNicholas, Keough, Justin Lindine (Bikereg.com-Joe’s Garage) and Mike Garrigan (Lapierre Canada).
Garrigan, who is best known for his blisteringly fast first two laps, had remained within himself and launched an attack inside three to go. But the Canadian’s attack didn’t amount to much and McNicholas began to pull the chase as the leaders got the bell. The high pace put Garrigan into difficulty and Lindine misjudged a corner, crashed and got up with a mechanical problem with his bike.
The leaders hit the pavement together with Heule able to hold off a charging Driscoll for his second series victory of the season. Twenty seconds behind, elbows were wide in the battle for third between McNicholas and Keough, with Keough pulling off another impressive sprint, leaving McNicholas fourth, Garrigan fifth and Lindine sixth.
Luke Keough pulled on the final series leader’s jersey and collected the payout for both the elite and the U23 competition. Heule moved into second overall with Lindine, the one-time series leader, third.
“It’s a great series,” said Keough. “I’ve grown up with the Verge series and to see the new Shimano sponsorship means great things for New England racing.”
- 1. Christian Heule, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, 1:02:53
- 2. Jamey Driscoll, Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, 1:02:54
- 3. Luke Keough, Champion System-Keough Cyclocross, 1:03:18
- 4. Dylan Mcnicholas, Cyclocrossworld.com, 1:03:18
- 5. Mike Garrigan, Lapierre Canada, 1:03:20
- 1. Andrea Smith, LadiesFirst Racing, 37:59
- 2. Sally Annis, Crossresults.com-JRA Cycles, 38:01
- 3. Laura Van Gilder, C3-Mellow Mushroom, 38:01
- 4. Crystal Anthony, LadiesFirst Racing, 38:02
- 5. Maureen Bruno Roy, Team Bob’s Red Mill-Seven Cycles, 38:05