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SuperCup Round #3 - Cat. 3
Chicago, USA, December 9, 2000
Johnson, Richardson upend leaders at Chicago SuperCup
Racing on snowy, frigid course, two upstarts delivered strong punches today to throw the leadership of the 2000 SuperCup Cyclocross Series into question.
In an exciting women's race, Carmen Richardson (SoBe/Headshok) sprung away from a crash that claimed overall leader Ann Grande (Kona/Voicestream) with just over a lap to go. She then dueled with Rachel Lloyd (Sycip) all the way to the final hurdles, where she cracked open a gap that carried her to the line with the win.
The men's race proved wildly exciting to the 2,000 spectators that braved sub- freezing temperatures to watch this hour-long tilt in Washington Park. National Under-23 Champion Tim Johnson (Saturn) bravely skated about on the icy course to open up a lead on the star-studded field. Overall series leader and National Men's Champion Marc Gullickson (Mongoose) fought through early race traffic. After breaking free to pursue Johnson, Gullickson struggled on the technical course that seemed to change from mud to ice and back to mud with every lap. After 33-minutes of racing, however, he finally closed the gap on Johnson. "I don't know if Tim slowed down or what, I didn't think I did all that much," said Gullickson. "He was really getting time on me on all the hurdles. He's probably the best guy right now on that."
Gullickson versus Johnson, power versus prowess, has been the story line of this season's SuperCup series. But as the laps wound down, Gullickson had to consider an additional threat. Bart Bowen, Johnson's Saturn teammate and the 1999 SuperCup Champion, roared into contention with the leaders, boiling down his deficit to Gullickson from more than a minute to just 10 seconds. As a result of this threat from behind, Gullickson had to burn fuel to keep him, and the soft-pedaling Johnson, away.
All of this led to the final run through the Red Bull hurdles. With a flat course, promoters brought in a truckload of spongy mulch, over which they laid five hurdles in a 40-yard stretch. This energy-sucking patch had reaped a grim harvest of riders in each of the earlier races. One junior racer, Aaron Mennenberg of Seattle, vying for a podium spot, crashed heavily on the boards and broke a number of bones.
In the women's race, Grande fell prey to the hurdles, falling hard once, getting up and stumbling again. She then picked up a mangled bicycle. Despite an immediate replacement bike from a mechanic, Grande could not catch Richardson, Lloyd or even Emily Thorne (Independent Fabrication), who all hit the thrusters when they saw the leader's jersey go down in a plume of dust. Grande finished fourth, her lowest result ever in a SuperCup.
"I felt bad for Anne," said Richardson. "The same thing happened to me last year in the exact same place on the exact same lap. That's what bike racing is all about."
Entering that dangerous zone with just a few hundred meters left in the men's race, Johnson accelerated to a terrifying pace. "He was better than anybody else in there," said Gullickson. Like a gazelle on a nature show, Johnson danced through the hurdles with stunning precision, remounted the machine, and cracked open a gap that Gullickson could not close. "When I looked back and I saw I had 50 meters on Gully, that's something I'll never forget," said Johnson. "I'll have sweet dreams all week about that."
For Johnson, he'll barely have a week. Next weekend brings the same cast of characters to Kansas City for the national championships and the SuperCup finals. Johnson trails Gullickson by just eight points in the overall series tally. In short, Gullickson finds himself in the exact same position as last year: wearing the leaders jersey going into the finals, but under extreme pressure from a Saturn rider. In short, between Gullickson and Johnson, whoever places higher in Kansas City will win the SuperCup series.
The results in Chicago also gave Richardson the women's leaders jersey, followed by Lloyd and Grande, all within a few points of each other. Suddenly, Kansas City's suburb of Overland Park finds itself in the crosshairs of American bike fans. It may not be Gore and Bush, but it's close. Hopefully, the town and the Union will survive.
Elite Men 1 Tim Johnson (Saturn) 58.25 2 Marc Gullickson (Mongoose) 0.06 3 Bart Bowen (Saturn) 0.22 4 Justin Robinson (Bullion Stil/Specialized) 1.51 5 Brandon Dwight (Trek/Volkswagon) 1.56 6 Johannes Huseby (Independent Fabrication) 1.59 7 Dale Knapp (Kona/Voicestream) 2.01 8 Adam Myerson (Breakaway) 2.21 9 Ben Jacques-Maynes (The Spokesman) 2.33 10 Jonathan Sundt (Redline) 2.42 Elite Women 1 Carmen Richardson (Sobe/Headshock) 41.50 2 Rachel Loyd (Sycip/Novo) 0.02 3 Emily Thorne (Independent Fabricaton's) 0.29 4 Ann Grande (Kona/Voicestream) 0.30 5 Gina Hall (Real Whek/ Voodoo) 0.58 6 Jen Dial (Independent Fabrication) 1.30 7 Christine Vardaros (Body Glider) 1.46 8 Jody Koch (Ameritech) 1.55 9 Heather Mcroberts (Ritchy) 1.57 10 Ingrid Spies (Recycled Cycling) 1.59 Results & report courtesy of Kiron Group/race organisers
Men 1999 Stephen Larsen (LL Bean/Mongoose) Women 1999 Anne Grande (Red Line Racing)