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Stumptown Cross Classic - C3

Portland, OR, USA, October 12, 2003

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Vervecken and Dunlap Storm Away from Fields at Muddy Cannondale Stumptown Classic

By Brian Witty

On the day a Belgian visited Portland to show his American cyclo-cross brethren how it is done, it only seemed appropriate that Belgian weather and a Belgian-style course were there too. The 2001 World Cyclo-Cross Champion Erwin Vervecken (Spaar Select) and 2001 World Mountain Bike Champion Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix) rode powerfully to garner wins at the UCI Category 3 Cannondale Stumptown Classic in Portland on October 12.

The second round of the 2003 River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade Series ushered in a new era for cyclo-cross in the Pacific Northwest as it marked the first time a former World Champion had raced in the region. In addition to Vervecken, who had won the UCI event in Tacoma the day before, six U.S. Senior National Cyclo-Cross Champions, four men and two women, were on hand. In total, 482 cyclo-cross racers of all ages and abilities tackled this true European style track.

In addition to strong fields, the racers had to contend with difficult conditions. The temperatures were in the mid-50s with frequent downpours and strong winds. Utilizing the same Euro-style course in Southwest Portland as last year's Stumptown Classic, the 2.7-kilometer circuit ran almost entirely on turf, which after a week of soaking, quickly turned into slithery mud. The off-camber sections were particularly diabolical. 100 Percent, 100 Percent of the Time

As the Elite Men took lined up in the start chute for the 60-minute race, an ominous cloud was moving overhead and a heavy rain was starting. Once the whistle blew, the pack stormed up the paved finish straight at 30 m.p.h. into the deluge. Vervecken didn't take long to assert himself, after Todd Wells (Mongoose/Hyundai) gave way after moving to the front briefly. It didn't take long for the pecking order to be established, with Vervecken setting a blistering pace with a thrilling combination of power and finesse. The hard-working trio of Wells, Marc Gullickson (Redline) and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Clif Bar) chased three seconds back. Eric Tonkin (Kona/Kenwood), Ben Jacques-Maynes (Family Cycling Center), Jonny Sundt (K2), Jackson Stewart (Clif Bar), Dale Knapp (Kona/Kenwood) and last week's 'Cross Crusade winner Ryan Trebon (Eastern/Kona/CCA).

The 2001 World Champion found it hard to break free of the chase group. "Once I had a gap, it was really hard to keep," Vervecken said. "Here I was always alone, which is different from [Belgium] where we usually have a group, so I had to push."

Gullickson kept him honest by never letting the gap open to more than 10 seconds, with Andy Jacques-Maynes and Wells a five seconds further back. However by the mid-point, with the sun shining brightly again, Gullickson was suddenly in fourth after suffering a mishap on course. In the closing laps, Vervecken was pouring on the pace. It was impressive to see him at his max for the duration of the race, including sprinting out of the saddle every time his front tire touched asphalt. Vervecken was putting on a clinic, showing America's best what it takes to be competitive on the World Cup level.

The race for second was still up for grabs between Wells, Gullickson and Andy Jacques-Maynes. The Clif Bar rider dropped back as Gullickson pushed hard, 20 seconds behind the leader. With one lap to go, Wells attacked on across a flat field and got five seconds in front of his companion which he held to the finish, less than 15 seconds behind Vervecken. Teammates Andy Jacques-Maynes and Stewart rounded out the top five, followed by Shannon Skerritt (Trek/VW/Bike Gallery), the first Oregon finisher.

The Spaar Select rider, who went two-for-two during his Pacific Northwest tour after winning the Clif Bar Grand Prix in Tacoma on Saturday, was enthusiastic about his experiences. "This was a better race for me than yesterday. Today was very similar to Europe. My compliments to the organizers, the races were great, and I hope the organizers will work to get a World Cup race here in the future," said Vervecken. Dunlap Duels with Knapp for Win

Lining up at the start for the 40-minute Women's Elite Race was a "Who's Who" of women's cyclo-cross in the U.S. Alison Dunlap was joined by National Champion Ann Knapp (Kona/Kenwood) Team Clif Bar's Carmen D'Aluisio and Gina Hall, Alison Dunlap (Luna Chix), Christine Vardaros (Velo Bella), Josie Beggs (Redline), National Espoir Champion Megan Monroe (Lemond Cycles), and local favorite Rhonda Mazza (Team S&M/Sellwood Bicycles). On the start/finish straight, D'Aluisio gunned it from the line and led into the first twisty section. Dunlap went around her, but then Knapp seemingly found an extra gear in the first off-camber section where she found some breathing room. Realizing she had an advantage, Knapp was quickly up by 8 seconds as she was noticeably faster through the early technical sections. Toward the end of the first lap, Dunlap showed her hand and powered across the muddy fields to bridge up to Knapp, with D'Aluisio, Beggs, Hall and Monroe chasing.

Knapp continued to ride fearlessly as she would pull away every time the course hit one of the technical sections. Coming through to finish the second lap, Dunlap charged up the straight and led Knapp by four seconds. However, the Kona/Kenwood rider was on her wheel in the off-camber and then had the audacity to attack again which gapped Dunlap again. The defining moment of the race happened at the top of the long, muddy run-up on the third lap. Dunlap was back with Knapp and chose to attack across a flat section. Knapp covered it but then slid out in a turn. She re-mounted quickly, but Dunlap was ahead by more than 10 seconds. At the end of the third lap, the lead stretched to 13 seconds, with D'Aluisio at 19 seconds, with Hall nearly a minute back.

D'Aluisio continued to push and caught Knapp with two to go and Dunlap seemingly out of reach. However, Knapp still had some power in reserve and attacked hard to lock down second place. At the finish, Dunlap eased up to celebrate her win and Knapp finished 17 seconds later. The Clif Bar duo of D'Aluisio and Hall were next, followed by a great ride by the youngster Monroe. Vardaros and Beggs had a last-minute tussle for sixth with the Velo Bella rider coming out on top.

Dunlap summed up her race afterwards: "I got gapped on the technical sections by Ann, but early in the race I realized I had better legs. Ann was flying on the technical stuff, so I attacked on a flat section and opened a lead and that was it." Preview of Barton Park Round of the River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade On October 19, Round 3 of the 'Cross Crusade moves to a new venue near the scenic Clackamas River in Carver, Oregon. The Barton Park course has little bit of everything with a mixture of gravel, packed dirt road sections, off-camber and some turf -- with some short power running sections tossed in for good measure. About the 'Cross Crusade Series

Now in its 11th season, the River City Bicycles 'Cross Crusade Series is an Oregon-based grassroots effort that has grown into the largest cyclo-cross series in North America. The 2003 'Cross Crusade has more than $20,003 in cash and merchandise up for grabs during the seven races, including one UCI-sanctioned events.

In August 2003, USA Cycling selected Club Vivo, the promoters of the 'Cross Crusade, to host the U.S. National Cyclo-Cross Championships in 2003 and 2004. The events will take place December 12-14, 2003 and December 10-12, 2004 in Portland when national championship jerseys will be on the line for men's and women's elite, espoir, junior, and masters age-group categories. The 'Cross Crusade series emphasizes fun and participation which is evidenced by the expansive prize list that ranges from cash and bike-related merchandise to six-packs of local microbrews and bottles of Oregon-grown wines. This level of generosity is made possible by the unparalleled support of the series' title sponsor River City Bicycles and presenting sponsors Cannondale, Saturn/RussAuto, MacTarnahan's and Sellwood Cycle Repair. Learn more about 'Cross Crusade at http://www.crosscrusade.com.


Images by Russ & Nancy Wright/www.abbiorca.com

Images by Clark Ritchie/home.comcast.net/~clarkritchie


Elite Men
1 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Spaar Select                     56.41
2 Todd Wells (USA) Mongoose-Hyundai                       0.09
3 Marc Gullickson (USA) Redline                           0.17
4 Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) Clif Bar                      1.11
5 Jackson Stewart (USA) Clif Bar                          1.57
6 Shannon Skerritt (USA) Trek-VW                          1.59
7 Sten Raeymaker (Bel) De Groof                           2.39
8 Eric Tonkin (USA) Kona-Kenwood                          2.56
9 Johnny Sundt K (USA) 2 Bikes                            3.29
10 Mark King (USA) Sunnyside Sports                       3.50
Elite Women
1 Alison Dunlap (USA) Luna                               47.25
2 Ann Knapp (USA) Kona-Kenwood                            0.17
3 Carmen D'Aliusio (USA) Clif Bar                         0.36
4 Gina Hall (USA) Clif Bar                                1.35
5 Megan Monroe (USA) Lemond                               3.00
6 Christine Vardaros (USA) Velo Bella-Sallyspicer.com     3.35
7 Josie Beggs (USA) Redline                               3.39
8 Rhonda Mazza (USA) Team S&M-Vanilla                     4.32
9 Kristi Berg (USA) Bicycle Center                        5.33
10 Alice Pennington (USA)                                 6.01

Past winners

2002 Todd Wells (USA) Mongoose     Gina Hall (USA) Cliff Bar