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Michigan Cyclo-cross series #3
Munson Park, Monroe, Michigan, October 19, 2003
Tailwind.net/Cane Creek sweep again, Card retains jersey
The third stop on the 2002 Michigan Cyclocross circuit saw a new venue for the series. Munson Park in Monroe, Michigan was chosen as the place to do battle. There was plenty of carnage as the course forced the tough guys to be tough while the weaker riders fell to their knees. With the help of Scott Goocher and Rob Foshag from Jack's Bicycles in Monroe, the Tailwind crew put together a course that was perhaps the most physically demanding Michigan has seen in years.
The park is pancake flat with the exception of a mild looking sled hill. The Tailwind course designers used this hill three times per lap in cruel and unusual ways. Add to that a good sized sand pit and a hardened, bumpy soccer field and you have the makings of a brutal day. Right from the start, the course swept right and riders were forced up the hill on bike. To the top and back down the other side into a 180 degree right turn and back up the hill again on the steepest pitch available. Not quite to the top before a nasty little left turn followed by another right turn on the steep off-camber side of the hill. Back up near the top and finally back down to the bottom and out to the field. Riders then cruised along a limestone track that outlined the park, zig-zagging through some trees before turning out to the soccer field. A tough dry summer left the field hard and bumpy with a bit of tall grass. Luck for the racers, Goocher (Jack's Bicycles was kind enough to mow the entire course the day before). Up and down the field before going back to the limestone track and over to the challenge of the day. A double volleyball court stood between the riders and easy pedaling. For some, this would be a forced run as the turn into the sand was a tight left, followed by a right turn in the sand followed by another left between the nets and finally out the other side. Top riders could ride while others were forced to run. Back to the grass and into the first set of barriers on the flat. Out to the soccer field again and back toward the sled hill where the second set of barriers await. With the barriers placed along the hill, almost all riders got off and shouldered the bike while a small handful could bunnyhop and power to the top. More off-camber turns and back to the limestone track, out through the soccer field and back to the start/finish.
With the absence of Alicia Mayer (Orbea), Anne Schwartz (Flying Rhinos) was allowed to walk away from the field on her way to the win with a 3:23 margin. The course certainly took its toll on the other ladies as the rest of the small five rider field was spread apart over eight minutes. The win coupled with Mayer's absence put Schwartz further into the leader's jersey by 43 points.
Only 17 brave souls lined up for the start of the Elite Men's race. All of the usual suspects were present and accounted for. Jer Walker (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) won the start and led into the first turn and up the sled hill for the first time. Jeff Weinert (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) and series leader Jon Card (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) were hot on his heels and came around through the 180 right turn. Walker latched on and the three were off. The three teammates would never be challenged from this point forward.
The field followed close until the sand pit, where the first cracks started to appear. By the time they cleared the first set of barriers and were headed for the second, they already had a sizable gap forming. Nate Griffith (Ford/Giant Bikes) and Mike Wissink (Wheels In Motion) were the only ones to mount a chase. The course was already taking toll on the rest of the field. By the end of the first lap, the trio from Tailwind.net/Cane Creek were looking like a Michigan version of the old Saturn powerhouse from the SuperCup days. The three would ride together taking turns on the front while continuing to open the gap. Completing laps in just under six and a half minutes, they were forcing the pace for a nine lap event.
Finally, at the 30 minute mark, something had to give. While the three are teammates and looked to be having fun, there was still a 'cross race to be won. Walker was the first victim as Card sensed weakness and punched it taking Weinert with him. Walker, caught off guard, was forced to chase and would never get back on. Weinert took to the barriers on the hill where he was bunnyhopping the whole time. With three to go though, he paid the price as he caught his rear wheel on the second barrier sending him to the ground.
Card took this opportunity and ran with it never looking back. He would go on to put 30 seconds on Weinert and take the win completing nine laps in 58:17. Weinert came in at 58:47 while Walker lost 1:12 to the 38 year old winner. Meanwhile, a mad fight was on for the fourth and fifth spots between Griffith and Wissink. The two stayed togethger to end with Griffith, the young speedster from the road, taking the sprint. The rest of the field would come in shattered in one's and two's with some riders being lapped in the violent contest.
The win was Card's first of the series and allowed him to extend his lead in the Louis Garneau Series Leader's Jersey by 13 points. Weinert took round one and is still in the hunt for the overall in second place with four events remaining. Walker's third helped put a little more cement on Tailwind.net/Cane Creek's hold on the top three spots in the overall standings. Griffith holds on to the fourth spot overall while Wissink made the biggest jump in rankings from 12th to 5th. The war resumes next week on October 26 when the series heads to the West side of the state for round four at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids.
Elite Women 1 Anne Scwartz (Flying Rhinos) 47.20 2 Renee Schroeder (Maple Leafs) 3.23 3 Anne Grofvert (Riverfront Cycling) 4.30 4 Liz Gentner (Wolverine Sports Club) 8.15 5 Dianne Deangelis (Planet Cycle) 1 lap Elite Men 1 Jon Card (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 58.17 2 Jeff Weinert (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 0.30 3 Jer Walker (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 1.18 4 Nate Griffith (Ford/Giant Bikes) 2.23 5 Mike Wissink (Wheels In Motion) 2.24 6 Nick Durrie (Ann Arbor Ford) 3.31 7 Gary Deangelis (Planet Cycle) 4.29 8 Howard Graham (Ada Bike/Marceco) 4.30 9 Rob Selle (Self-S Racing) 4.58 10 Brian Rosewarne (AAVC) 5.20 11 Tony Bruley (Suburban Homes) 5.27 12 Mark Wolowiec (Flying Rhinos) 5.37 13 Rob Foshag (Revolution Giant) 7.09 14 David Wagoner (Cycle Masters) 1 lap 15 Steven Geerlings (Essex Brass) 16 Dan Vandock (MVW) 17 Matt Spruit (U/A) 2 laps Standings After Three Races Elite Women 1 Anne Swartz (Flying Rhinos) 113 pts 2 Anne Grofvert (Riverfront Cycling) 81 3 Alicia Mayer (Orbea) 70 4 Liz Gentner (Wolverine Sports Club) 69 5 Susan Schubel (Revolution) 64 Elite Men 1 Jon Card (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 149 pts 2 Jeff Weinert (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 136 3 Jer Walker (Tailwind.net/Cane Creek) 120 4 Nate Griffith (Ford/Giant Bikes) 102 5 Mike Wissink (Wheels In Motion) 71