Weekend PrevieW

CRAFT SPORTSWEAR GRAN PRIX OF GLOUCESTER
KICKS OFF VITTORIA NORTHEAST CYCLOCROSS SERIES
PRESENTED BY CLIF BAR

The CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester presented by Ipswich Ale Brewing returns for a 19th season and features the opening weekend of competition for the Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart. The legendary Gloucester event is a classic New England cyclocross race hosted by Essex County Velo at historic Stage Fort Park.

Elite Category 2 races, sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), will be held both days for professional women and men. These races will provide points for USA Cycling's Professional Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX). Along with additional points earned for the Vittoria Series overall competition, winning athletes will be awarded coveted Verge leaders jerseys at the Gloucester event.

Both Men's and Women's Elite races will feature exciting racing between many of the top pros in the sport. For the men, expect to see Aspire Racing riders Jeremy Powers and Spencer Petrov at the front end of the race. A Massachusetts native, four-time U.S. national champion Powers cites Gloucester as one of his favorite events. 

"As always, I'm very excited to come back to the classic that is Gloucester again this year," said Powers. "It's always a favorite race of mine, with family and friends being able to attend. I can't help but think of racing here years ago when I lined up as a young junior rider racing with the masters and dueling with Jesse Anthony and now I'm bringing my son for the first time, so I'm very excited about that!" 

As for the racing, Powers is hoping for slick conditions. "Competition will be in full force, but that is the same as always and I hope to have a strong race and put on a good show for everyone that comes out to watch and cheer us on. It's looking like we might even have a little bit of rain in the forecast. One of my best memories was from the 2012 event held in the rain."

Starting off the season with huge victories at KMC Cross Fest and Charm City Cross, current ProCX leader and U23 National Champion Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz/Donkey Label Racing) will be a favorite in the Elite Men's race. "I left home in Santa Cruz in early September for a huge block of racing which started in Rochester, then went to the midwest World Cups, and finally out here for the East Coast races," said Ortenblad, who is from Santa Cruz, Calif. "Gloucester will be my final weekend before heading home for a little break. I did it two years ago and loved the course and location. Not to mention it's a legendary venue. The weather is beautiful right now and I'm looking forward to one more weekend of racing in New England before heading home. The past couple weeks of racing have been incredible so I'm hoping to bring some of that confidence and fitness into this weekend."

Other riders to watch in the Elite Men's race will include Anthony Clark (Squid Squad), Curtis White (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com), and Jack Kisseberth (JAM/NCC). White scored back-to-back wins in Gloucester in 2016. Kisseberth is coming off of a podium performance at KMC Cross Fest and a solid seventh place finish on day 2 of Charm City Cross.

For the women, expect to see a classic New England duel between youngsters 22-year-old Ellen Noble (Aspire Racing) of Kennebunkport, Maine and 20-year-old Emma White (Cannondale/Cyclocrossworld.com) of Delanson, N.Y. These two have been racing each other at Gloucester since they were beginners. Last year, Noble took the win on day 1 of Gloucester, while White rode with consistency taking two podiums over the weekend. It could be a tactical race between the two.

Also in the fight for the podium will be French Olympian Christel Ferrier Bruneau (SAS-Macogep) and local favorite Crystal Anthony (Maxxis Shimano Pro Cyclocross) of Beverly, Mass. 

After the Vittoria Series begins in Stage Fort Park this weekend, racing will continue with the second event in Western Massachusetts with the Verge Northampton International, on Nov. 11 and 12. This race is one of New England's favorite races and the oldest UCI race in the U.S. Returning to the series for a second year is Supercross Cup, Nov. 18 and 19, in Suffern, N.Y. After a successful debut year in a new location, Supercross returns to the "World Cup-style" venue that featured rolling hills, tricky off-cambers, and clenching descents that tested even the most steely-nerved 'cross racers. The Vittoria Series grand finale will be at the NBX Gran Prix of 'Cross. Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick, R.I. will host the final chapter on a course that is the essence of cyclocross in New England - twists and turns, rooty descents and the legendary beach sections.

 

Lauren LeClaire
NECXS Media Coordinator