Weekend Preview: CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester Kicks Off Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart

The 2018 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart begins this weekend with the 20th edition of the CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester presented by Ipswich Brewing. Taking place this October 13 and 14, in Gloucester’s iconic Stage Fort Park, cyclists of all ages and abilities will take on the twists and turns of the park with competitions culminating with the men’s and women’s professional races.

Union Cycliste Internationale sanctioned (UCI) Elite Class 2 (C2) races will be held both days for professional women and men. Athletes will compete for points on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX), as well as for the Vittoria Series overall competition. Winning athletes will be awarded coveted Verge Sport leader’s jerseys at the Gloucester event.

The Vittoria Series includes four weekends of competition on classic cyclocross courses in the Northeast in Gloucester, Mass., Northampton, Mass., Suffern, N.Y., and Warwick, R.I. The longest standing UCI cyclocross series in the United States continues in its mission to drive the sport forward and set an example. For the 2018 Series, a schedule change request was filed with the UCI that would impact the women’s and men’s elite field time slots, switching the premiere race each race day in order to highlight the fields equally. While USA Cycling remains supportive as part of the movement to show equality for women’s racing and the request was supported by Vice President of Operations Chuck Hodge, the UCI stated in an email Wednesday from Cyclo-cross Coordinator Christelle Reille that they would not approve the change and both days will conclude with the elite men’s event.

While the UCI has approved tests of similar schedule changes this season with the first two World Cups and the upcoming Pan American Continental Championships, in the meantime “race organizers must be treated with equality and the UCI cannot award this possibility to only few of them,” according to Reille.

“We’re disappointed that the UCI didn’t award us an exception to this rule,” said Series President Adam Myerson, “particularly since the rule is ridiculous to begin with. Any organizer who wishes to highlight the women should be free to do so. We never expected our request to be rejected, especially so close to our first event.”

For the future, Reille stated, “We will submit a rule change to the UCI Cyclo-cross commission and then to the UCI Management Committee, applying to the season 2019-2020, so that all UCI event organisers can choose the schedule of Elite races, if this change is approved.”

Race Preview - Series Races 1 and 2

Events will feature exciting racing between many of the top pros in the sport. For the men, expect to see Tobin Ortenblad (Santa Cruz / Donkey Label Racing) make the trip to Gloucester to defend his two wins from last year. “Winning both days of Gloucester last year was incredible, there is something so special about the atmosphere of the race. The cross scene is so strong out here,” noted Ortenblad who is ranked second overall in the ProCX standings.

One rider with more experience on the Gloucester course than most is Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com). White has raced at Stage Fort Park 23 times and has a number of special connections to the event. “And, to boot, Vittoria is our new tire sponsor this year,” exclaimed White. “With Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com's headquarters so close as well, it really feels like a home race.” White explained that he has made some changes to his training and preparation over the last year, working with Cycle-Smart coach Alec Donahue. “ I feel like I'm coming into this weekend a step or two above where I was last season.”

Coming off a win at Charm City Cross last weekend in Baltimore, New Hampshire native Jamey Driscoll (Pivot-Maxxis p/b Stans-DNA Cycling) has some added confidence heading back to Gloucester. “I know that form doesn’t last forever. But I think I can maintain this,” said Driscoll. “Usually when I’ve had good form, I’ve kept it pretty effectively. I am looking forward to a well-planned out schedule with proper rest. I have Gloucester and am excited to take the form back to New England.”

The unknown factor this weekend will be Jeremy Powers (Pactimo Fuji SRAM). After racing well in Rochester at the start of the season in early September, Powers was ill before Reno Cross and did not race at Charm City last weekend. It’s unknown whether or not he will start this weekend. Another question mark will be Spencer Petrov (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com), who remains recovering from a concussion but, like Powers, is registered for this weekend’s events.

Additional elite men to watch include Anthony Clark (Squid Squad) with a win last weekend at the West Sacramento Cyclocross Grand Prix, up and coming U23 rider Lane Maher (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) who won at KMC Cross Fest, Canadian Derrick St. John (Van Dessel p/b HyperThreads), and Cooper Willsey (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com).

For the elite women, last year’s winner Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) has had an outstanding start to the season with two wins last weekend. “I am super excited to be returning to Gloucester this weekend. No race embodies the love of New England Cyclocross like Gloucester does,” said Noble, who is ranked 2nd overall in ProCX.

Going up against Noble will be local favorite, Beverly, Mass.-native Crystal Anthony (Liv Cycling). “Gloucester is always one my favorite races of the year, and one with many fond memories for me. I've raced there every year since I started racing cyclocross - and this will be my 11th consecutive year,” said Anthony, who is ranked 3rd in ProCX standings. “Cyclocross is a very positive and fun community, and I think Gloucester really showcases that.”

Another rider looking to make her mark after claiming two victories at Nittany Lion Cross is Erica Zaveta (Renewed Cyclocross/ Garneau-Easton p/b Transitions LifeCare). “I am very excited to race at Gloucester this weekend! I was disappointed to miss the race last season so I can’t wait to get back there this year. That region of the country is beautiful and the course is a lot of fun,” said Zaveta. “I would say it is one of the most unique venues on the calendar.” With her back to back wins in mid-September, Zaveta is feeling more focused than ever but notes “there is always so much to learn at any stage of cyclocross racing but to see myself progressing has been really exciting and motivating for the season.”

Fresh off of her first UCI victory at KMC Cross Fest, Regina Legge (Trek Cyclocross Collective) is eager for more racing this season. “Coming off of a rest weekend, I am excited to kick off my next block of racing at Gloucester,” said Legge. “Although the race is a double C2 weekend, it always draws big names like Ellen Noble and Crystal Anthony. The course is generally dry, so I look forward to trying to hang on to some of the fastest wheels in women's racing.”

Other riders to watch in the elite women’s field include Cassie Maximenko (Van Dessel Factory Team), BrittLee Bowman (RSCX - House Ind - DWR - HM) and Taylor Kuyk-White (Philly Bike Expo).

After Stage Fort Park this weekend, the Vittoria Series will continue with the second event in Western Massachusetts at the Verge Northampton International, on Nov. 10 and 11. Returning to the series for a third year is Supercross Cup, Nov. 17 and 18, in Suffern, N.Y. The Vittoria Series grand finale will be at the NBX Gran Prix of ‘Cross Dec. 1 and 2.

Watch the races unfold in person or by following tweets at @VittoriaSeries. Follow on Facebook for race weekend highlights at facebook.com/VittoriaSeries.

Media Contact:

Lauren LeClaire, Vittoria Series Media Coordinator