ECV Cyclo-cross - Cat. 3

Gloucester, USA, October 14, 2001

Results   Photos

World Champion Storms to Victory in ECV Cyclo-Cross

Belgian World Champion Erwin Vervecken made a clean sweep of his short trip to United States on Sunday, following up his SuperCup victory on Saturday with a win at the ECV Cyclo-Cross Race, Round 2 of the Verge 2001 New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series.

The wearer of the rainbow jersey, however, was pushed right to the line by American national champion Tim Johnson of Saturn. In fact, it wasn't clear until Vervecken (SpaarSelect) made the transition from a sandy flat to the leg-sapping uphill paved finish that the Belgian's five-second gap was secure.

"Tim started to gain back some time in the last two laps," Vervecken admitted. "I would look back, and he would be a bit closer."

Johnson, who finished a distant second in Saturday's race, was pleased with his race. "It was my plan to make the race hard," he said. "A difficult race plays to the strongest rider, and that's the way it should be."

Johnson nearly crashed out of the mass start with Vervecken on his wheel, but the duo quickly established a seven-second gap on a group of chasers that included the best cyclo-cross racers in North America. Those in the hunt included K2's Jonny Sundt, winner of the Verge opener in Auburn, Maine two weeks ago, Mongoose/Hyundai's Marc Gullickson, Saturn's Frank and Mark McCormack and Canadian national champ Peter Wedge of Kona.

A series of sharp attacks by Johnson in the first two laps of the seaside course wasn't able to dislodge Vervecken from his wheel, but it did substantial damage to the pack of chasers. Gullickson was able to hold the gap to the leaders at 10 seconds, as Johnson's teammate Mark McCormack dutifully sat on, but the rest of the chase group disappeared quickly. The pursuers weren't helped by the rain-slicked course, which put a couple of crashes between the two leaders and the field.

Vervecken seemed content merely to match the 24-year-old American's effort, but unleashed his own rapid-fire set of attacks on the third lap. Every time the Belgian roared, however, Johnson answered.

For the thousand or so fans who braved the rain to ring the course, it looked like the race might come down to a series of two-up sprints, with Johnson and Vervecken vying for top honors, and Gullickson and McCormack fighting for the third podium spot. But with four laps to go, Johnson had trouble with a remount as sticky sand made it hard for him to gain his pedal. Vervecken, who had established a slight gap, suddenly stretched his lead to about five seconds.

"Honestly, I was already beginning to lose time," Johnson said. "He was having problems, too. I was happy to stay as close as I did."

Johnson did make several attempt to close down the gap, but never made it across as the world champion gave the enthusiastic crowd a two-arm salute and a broad smile at the finish.

Mark McCormack arrived nearly two minutes behind Vervecken and Johnson, but 10 seconds ahead of Gullickson to claim the third spot on the podium. Frank McCormack, who had powered his way from Wedge and Sundt, finished fifth.

Vervecken said after the race that his European campaign resumes next week at the SuperPrestige race in Belgium. So was this merely a preseason warm-up?

"Not at all," he said in impeccable English. "Perhaps it would have been easy to finish in the top five today, but it was not easy to win."

"I'll tell you," Johnson said later. "If I can learn just one small thing from him, then -- from my perspective -- his trip has been worth it."

Johnson's consolation for now -- the 2001 Verge leaders jersey and a strong psychological boost in his bid to repeat as national champion.

Women

Although there was no arc-en-ciel jersey in the women's race, it was just as much a world-class race as the men's contest. 2000 SuperCup winner Anne Grande, Canadian road and time trial champion Lynne Bessette, and a host of American and Canadian masters champions filled the field. In the end, however, Bessette did what she has done in every cyclo-ross race she's entered crushed the opposition.

Like Vervecken, Bessette won Saturday's SuperCup. Because the Canadian has complained of post-season fatigue, however, her challengers might have expected to the Saturn rider to show a chink in the armor. No such luck.

Bessette stormed out of the start with Grande (Kona/Voicestream) in hot pursuit. The Saturn rider was never able to shake Grande, but never relinquished her lead, either. With four laps to go, Bessette had 20 seconds on her new rival, but the rest of the field was shattered, the effort evident through the mud on their faces.

At the end, Bessette cruised across the line with a 33-second advantage over Grande. Carmen Richardson D'Aluisio took third, 50 seconds back, while Emily Thorne (cyclocrossworld.com) and Gina Hall (Kona) finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Although Besette claims she's doing the cyclo-cross thing just for fun, she keeps the 2001 Verge leaders jersey.

Juniors

In the junior race, the Saturn Development Team duo of Oliver Stiler-Cote and national champion Jesse Anthony repeated their 1-2 finish of two weeks ago at the Verge opener, but this time it was Anthony taking the victory and the Verge series leader jersey from his teammate.

Anthony has never failed to impress in any of his outings over the past two years, and Sunday was no different. After breaking away with Stiler-Cote and Jason Hanson, Anthony put the hammer down and established an unbeatable 24-second lead with two laps to go. Cote protected Anthony's lead until about a kilometer to go, then burst away from a small chase group to finish second. Hanson (NESCA) hung on to finish third, ahead of Jamie Driscoll and Chris Hill.

Round 3 of the 2001 Verge New England Championship Cyclo-Cross Series will be the 11th Annual Amherst International Cyclo-Cross, held on Saturday, Oct. 27 in Amherst, Mass. Like the ECV Cyclo-Cross, it is a U.S. team selection event for the World Championship and a UCI Category 3 race.

Photos

Results

Elite Men
 
1 Erwin Vervecken (Spaarselect)              1.01.50
2 Tim Johnson (Saturn)                          0.05
3 Mark McCormack (Saturn)                       1.52
4 Marc Gullickson (Mongoose / Hyundai)          2.02
5 Frank McCormack (Saturn)                      0.11
6 Peter Wedge (Kona - Voicestream)              3.15
7 Jonny Sundt (K2)                              3.59
8 Alex Candelario (Big Shark / Cannondale)      4.16
9 Sten Raeymakers (U23) (Goed Verzekerd)        4.16
10 Justin Robinson (Palo Alto / Bullion)        4.16
 
Elite Women
 
1 Lynne Bessette (Saturn)                      44.40
2 Ann Grande (Kona Voicestream)                 0.33
3 Carmen D'Aluisio                              1.20
4 Emily Thorne (Cyclocrossworld.com)            2.10
5 Gina Hall (Kona Voicestream)                  3.04
6 Christine Vardaros (Jamba Juice)              3.07
7 Mary McConneloug (Jamba Juice)                3.14
8 Shauna Gillies-Smith (Gearworks/SRP)          3.41
9 Katrina Davis                                 3.57
10 Jen Dial (Independent Fabrications)          4.02
 
Junior Men
 
1 Jesse Anthony (Saturn Development)           44.14
2 Oliver Stiler-Cote (Saturn Development)       0.20
3 John Hanson (NECSA/Coyote Hill)               1.08
4 Jamie Driscoll                                1.08
5 Chris Hill (NCC / BikeReg.com)                1.08
7 Sam Benson (Team Devo)                        3.31
8 Joshua Benson (Team Devo)                     4.58
9 Art Rand (CCB International)                  5.07
10 Sam Smith                                    5.49