The 2018 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart continued with race number three on Saturday with the Verge Northampton International Cyclocross p/Cycle-Smart (NohoCX). Now in its 28th year, NohoCX is the oldest cyclocross race in North America sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Elite racers also competed for UCI Category 2 points in USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX). Sunny skies and cool and windy conditions challenged the racers on the 2.1-mile fast and flowing course at Look Park.
Ellen Noble (Trek Factory Racing) was victorious in the elite women’s field and Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) won the elite men’s competition in dominant fashion. Both riders remain in the Vittoria Series lead for another race after winning all three Series races thus far.
The second of four race weekends, the Vittoria Series follows competition on classic cyclocross courses in the Northeast, which include Gloucester, Mass., Northampton, Mass., Suffern, N.Y., and Warwick, R.I. It is the longest standing UCI cyclocross series in the United States. Athletes will compete for points on the USA Cycling Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX), as well as for the Vittoria Series overall competition. Currently Noble and White lead the elite women’s and men’s competitions with 150 points, with each sweeping the Series competition with back-to-back wins at the CRAFT Sportswear Gran Prix of Gloucester in October.
In the elite women’s race, Noble would establish control of the front of the race from the start with the help of Regina Legge (Trek Cyclocross Collective).
“I wanted to be at the front towards the beginning of the race,” said Legge, who led the race at the start, “and then try to stick in the front group so I managed to do that and I was happy with that.”
The two riders would work together to fend off the harsh winds and the charging chasers, Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) and Courtenay McFadden (Pivot-Maxxis p/b Stans-DNA Cycling) on the first three laps of the five-lap event.
“I was watching the race happening behind us and I saw that Courtenay [McFadden] and Becca [Fahringer] weren't riding together,” noted Noble, “so I just told her if we work together and don't attack each other, we'll be able to get a good lead on them.”
Inside of two laps to go, Noble would make her move to shed her closest competitor, growing her gap to five seconds as she started the final lap.
“It was Regina and I off the front for most of it,” said Noble, “but with a lap and a half to go, I didn't really make an attack so much as I think maybe Regina made a mistake or just eased off for a second so I got a little bit of a gap so I figured I'd ride with it but leave a little bit in case she pulled back. I was able to make a gap. It was awesome, I'm crazy impressed with how Regina was riding. I don't think I've gone to a race with her yet this year. It was super cool and she was taking really good lines, I actually followed her for a couple of laps, I was like not really sure about my riding today.”
Noble would come into the finish line solo, 9 seconds ahead of Legge. Noble would claim her seventh ProCX victory in a time 44 minutes and 47 seconds.
Legge, taking her 5th UCI podium of the season would finish second, 18 seconds ahead of third place finisher Fahringer.
Fahringer had a frantic start to her race after a muddy pre-ride. “There's one mud puddle in this course and in pre-ride I wanted to see if you should ride it or run it and I found the hole-in root, buried my front wheel in it and completely splatted into the puddle. I was covered in mud, I ended up needing to cut my pre-ride short in order to clean up and I realized that I didn't do a hot lap. And it was in my head, I was so frantic. When the race started I knew that I should podium and my first two laps three laps were so sloppy. I honestly thought I was going to be off the back maybe a bit and I put in a big dig to finish up third and I'm hoping that tomorrow goes a little bit better.”
In the elite men’s race, White would run away with the race early, which he credits to strong team tactics.
“Coming in, we had teammate Spencer Petrov and Devo rider Sam Noel. It was a good race to race as a team. At the beginning, it was kind of pack racing. The three of us and Jack Kisseberth made the selection. I pressed it a couple of times, and got a gap and left the group from that. I got to see that the two behind were racing like teammates so that was great to see. Cannondale, one, two and four, I was happy with that.”
By the second lap, the newly Pan-American Champion White would be solo off the front, on the quest for his third ProCX victory of the season. Behind him, three riders, Jack Kisseberth (Garneau Easton p/b Transitions), Sam Noel (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld Devo Team) and Spencer Petrov (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) would form the chase group.
“It was tough, it was pretty much three to one,” said Kisseberth, who was outnumbered by the Cannondale squad. “It was Curtis [White], Spencer [Petrov] and I. Spencer sort of bobbled, I got stuck behind him for a second and Curtis got maybe five seconds out of that. Then they all sat on my wheel while I tried to bring it back to Curtis on the straightaways which is a difficult game to play.
While White would continue to push the pace at the front, the chasers would engage in tactical racing, not wanting to expand extra energy at the front on the windy course.
Kisseberth continued, “And so after about a lap of that, it was pretty clear that we were not going to catch him so from that point towards the end, it was really tactical, no one really wanted to pull in the wind so we were all sort of sitting around, waiting for somebody to go.”
White would claim the win in one hour, three minutes, 30 seconds. Petrov would finish second, taking the sprint over Kisseberth and Noel.
Racing will continue Sunday in Northampton. Watch the races unfold in person or by following tweets at @VittoriaSeries. Follow on Facebook and YouTube for race weekend highlights video highlights provided by DirtWire.TV.