The 20th edition of the CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester concluded on Sunday as the second race of the 2018 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart. Held in Gloucester’s iconic Stage Fort Park, racers navigated the twists and turns of the course around the prominent granite boulder, overlooking Half Moon and Cressy’s beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. With vastly different course conditions from day one, which were wet and greasy, the course was dry and lightening fast.
Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) took her second solo victory of the weekend in the elite women’s race and Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) put in a late-race attack to go clear for the double win for the elite men..
After a dominant win on Saturday, Noble took a more calculated approach to the Sunday race. “Today I went into it with a little bit more tactics. I wanted to get off the front with Erica (Zaveta) and kind of be able to work with her,” said Noble. “She’s up and coming in the UCI races, so it would have been a good opportunity for us to work together and go through some lines.”
But Noble’s plan would shift when Erica Zaveta (Garneau-Easton p/b TLC) crashed early in race. “I took a weird line, I think I threw her off, so it left me on the front. I wasn’t intending to go solo today. But that’s how it ended up happening. Once I got a gap, I just tried to keep it,” added Noble.
Zaveta, who finished second, had a strong start by following immediately behind Noble. “I took on Ellen’s wheel and I was following behind really closely,” said Zaveta. “But I slid out in the turns just before the pits. And it was a pretty fast crash, so she got away very quickly. I ended up with Crystal (Anthony) and the group behind me. I ended up riding with them a little until I settled down and figured out the lines again. I had to pit because of my hanger. Towards the end I was like ‘I need to go.’ My rhythm was different than Crystal’s, like where she could go hard was opposite for me. So it wasn’t good to follow her. I attacked then. It was definitely back and forth. She’s really strong. I just need to commit to try to go, and then see if it worked. And it did.”
Crystal Anthony (Liv Cycling) rode to a podium spot for a second day in a row. “Today was a battle,” said Anthony. “Erica and I were going back and forth. She got the last final punch, so she rode really strong. I was happy today to be in the fight. She was savvy. She sat on my wheel until she was ready to go, and then she went.”
The elite men’s race proved to be a punchy group race, with riders from Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com dictating the tactics. Cooper Willsey (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) would lead for several laps before setting things up for teammate White.
“The course, today, seemed like it played towards group racing, it was a bit tactical,” said White. “Cooper Willsey was off the front early, so that put pressure on guys like Tobin Ortenblad, Jamey Driscoll. Jamey got to the front (chase group) and closed the gap quick so that we were all together. He had started the attack and strung the field out. Jamey was putting in a good dig with, like, four (laps) to go, and then he unfortunately clipped a stake (fence). It was unfortunate for him, but I think it also worked to my benefit. That was something I had to capitalize on and that was the gap. Once I got the gap, I wanted to crank out some of the fastest lap times that I could, work on accelerations.”
The race for second place would continue in the chase group after White made his winning attack. It would be his teammate Lane Maher who would take the lead in the final turns of the race. “Curtis attacked really hard, so that was pretty much gone, that was the win,” said Maher. “Then it kind of became a race for second. I got to go out to the front of the race for the first time on the last lap. It made it a lot easier, just a lot less gaps for me to close. I felt really good, so I decided to attack with a few minutes to go and it stuck. I was happy. I just put my head down and went as hard as I could and hoped for the best.”
Anthony Clark (Squid Squad) sprinted for third, after making several attacks throughout the race to shake up the group. “Since it was day two, I was on the start and super chilled,” said Clark. “I was sitting sixth wheel, and I was like ‘no, I want to go to the front.’ After Curtis attacked, I went to the front. With three or four laps to go, Curtis had a gap, so I just led two of the laps trying to get him back. The Cannondale guys were racing as a team. I led the last lap. Then Lane did an attack, I had to cover it and I realized he (Maher) had too big of a gap. So I said ‘I have to lead out the sprint, and Tobin is fast!’ I didn’t even think about it, I just went on the pavement and (pounded it). I just went as hard as I could and didn’t look back. As soon as I crossed the line, I was like “I just got third at Gloucester!’ And that is how it happened.”
The Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series continues with races three and four at The Verge Northampton International in Northampton, Mass. at Look Park on November 10 and 11. Noble and White will wear the coveted Verge leader’s jerseys for the Vittoria Series.