Extremely muddy conditions from snowmelt were on hand for a second day of racing at Rockland County Supercross Cup. It was race number six for the 2018 Vittoria Northeast Cyclocross Series presented by Clif Bar and Cycle-Smart at Rockland Community College, located in the southernmost county of the Empire State on the west side of the Hudson River. Racers competed for the coveted Verge leader’s jerseys in the Vittoria Series, as well as for UCI Category 2 points in USA Cycling’s Pro Cyclocross Calendar (ProCX).
Rebecca Fahringer (Kona Maxxis Shimano) charged away from the elite women’s field of 23 riders to claim her first UCI win of the 2018 season. Curtis White (Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld.com) went two-for-two for weekend in the elite men’s competition and won his sixth consecutive Vittoria Series victory of the season.
There are two races remaining in the Series, taking place Dec. 1-2 at NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Warwick, R.I.. The Vittoria Series follows four weekends of competition on classic cyclocross courses in the Northeast, and is the longest standing UCI cyclocross series in the United States.
After a heartbreaking runner-up finish on day one of Supercross Cup, Fahringer called her shot for day two. “So the second place for Rebecca Fahringer still stands as my intro,but it’s ‘on’ tomorrow,” she predicted on Saturday about the final event.
“Coming into today, I think everyone was a bit like, ‘oh crap, we’re out here doing this again,’” said Fahringer with a laugh. “It was pretty chilly, the mud was thicker, there was more running. My heart wasn’t in it, but as soon as the gun goes off, that’s when you start to really find it (gunning for the win). I wasn’t quite sure after a bad start if it was going to happen for me. I just kept trudging through.”
Fahringer would make her winning move on the second lap of the five-lap race. “I passed Ruby, and she was breathing pretty hard,” noted Fahringer about getting a 15-second advantage on that lap. “And I said, ‘this is going to be my day.’ And I just tried to ride smooth and hope that she didn’t charge forward like she did yesterday.”
Fahringer won in a time of 50 minutes, 4 seconds. She would gain time each lap on Ruby West (Specialized - Tenspeed Hero), who would finish more than 4 minutes back for second place., Fahringer will continue her season at NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross, the finale of the Vittoria Series and a C1/C2 weekend, after Thanksgiving. She will then compete at USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships in Louisville, K.Y., which will be held Dec. 11-16, 2018..
West, who won the Saturday race for elite women, felt the fatigue of her winning effort today. “The course was run backwards today. I think there was a little more running. The mud was thicker today. Yesterday was like big puddles of water, and thin mud. Today was just thick mud, and with running, your legs were getting heavy. I think the wear from yesterday had accumulated.”
West started quickly, leading the race from the start. “I think I was eager after yesterday to kind of get a better first lap, try to pick my own lines and do my own thing first lap. So I tried to get out front and not really worry about what other people were doing. That worked for the first lap. I think Rebecca (Fahringer) and I got a bit of a gap. I had a bit of a gap on her at one point, but I wasn’t attacking to get away. I was just kind of trying to do my own thing.”
When Fahringer put the pressure on two laps into the race, West simply could not respond. “I think she literally just went around me and rode away. I had less than nothing to offer today! So, my legs were totally empty from yesterday. I just did as much as I could, but Rebecca was so strong, and she was gone. I was focused on trying to stay upright and move forward as fast as possible, even though that wasn’t very fast. I did what I could. I am happy with second today. It’s been a good weekend.”
Supercross Cup would prove to be a breakout ride for Jane Rossi (Rhode Island School of Design), who would race to her first UCI podium. She finished 4 minutes, 58 seconds off the winning pace for third. Canadian Magdeleine Vallieres (Quebecor-Stingray), who was third on Saturday, was fourth on Sunday.
“It’s been a learning curve this season, learning how to do starts. I’m still trying to figure it out,” said Rossi, from Newburyport, Mass. “So every first lap has been a struggle. It was a lot of fighting to get back today. You can make up a lot of spots with just one short maneuver. The last couple of laps it was just staying really smooth and trying not to make any mistakes and no mechanicals. So, that was huge.”
While 15 of the 26 women completed all five laps, the elite men’s contest saw more attrition due to the slick, mucky conditions. Just six riders of the 23-person field completed the eight laps on Sunday. A lead group would unfold in a similar fashion to the first day, with White and Kerry Werner (Kona Maxxis Shimano) at the front.
“It was a lot of running today,” said White, who wore a mud-splattered Vittoria Series leader’s jersey to a solo victory. “(I was) just trying to be as smooth as you can carrying the momentum. The first couple of laps I just tried to see what guys like Kerry (Werner) and Cooper Willsey were doing, learn from their lines. Then I just gave it the diesel and gaps started opening up pretty steadily after that. I just trying to rail every section, focus on exit speed, make sure the running was on point.
“I got a flat tire late in the race, but it didn’t really affect things. It actually felt like I was hooking up better on the off camber, less (tire) pressure. It worked out very well.”
White spent 1 hour, 5 minutes, 43 seconds in the mud to earn another win. After his undefeated Vittoria Series stretch, White will look to lock up the leader’s jersey at NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross and continue on to Nationals. “Things are still on the ups, so I’ll be training over Thanksgiving. I won’t be eating too much turkey, just getting the work in and Stars-and-Stripes is the goal.”
Werner, who would finish second to White just as he had in 2017. Sunday he would finish 2 minutes, 35 seconds back, having spent a large part of the day running the course because of the thick mud.. “I would say if yesterday was a swim meet, today was the Supercross Cup tough mudder. Man, I don’t know what percentage of the course was running today, but it had to be over half.”
Werner was side by side with White in early laps. It was not until the third lap on the course that White created separation and began opening a gap to Werner. “I was able to keep up, maybe the first three laps or so. But then Curtis (White) was just beating me, hard on the running sections. It was all I could do. It was tough conditions out there.”
With some solid training of his running skills, Werner looks forward to a solid performance at NBX in Warwick, R.I. in two weeks, which features its long, iconic, beach run. “I took a good five days off after Pan-Am champs, did some training coming into this race, so I knew my legs were going to be a little shot. And with the running, that didn’t help either. So, this was good training. Rest up and then hit those last three weeks and just really hammer down.”
For the second day in a row, Merwin Davis (Cycle-Smart) finished third, 4 minutes, 18 seconds behind White. He would hold off Sam Noel (UVM Cycling / Cannondale Cyclocross) in the middle laps to maintain his hold on third place. Noel, the U23 leader for men in the Vittoria Series, would finish fourth.
“I approached both days kind of the same - go out strong, hang with Curtis (White) and Kerry (Werner) as long as I could. And then from there just settle in, minimize my mistakes and try to keep Sam (Noel) and Cooper (Willsey) at bay,” exclaimed Davis.
“I had one mechanical, dropped my chain and slid out in one turn the following lap. So that is when he (Noel) probably got the closest to me. Then I knew I had to put a couple of digs in. I chose to do it on the running hill. It seemed to work. I finally broke him, or broke his spirit. I seemed to be opening up a gap a little bit each lap in the woods. That was actually because I was running a portion of it. I’d ride, run, ride out of it.”
The Vittoria Series will conclude at Goddard Memorial State Park with the NBX Gran Prix of Cyclocross December 1 and 2. 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 DirtWireTV.