The 15th annual Gran Prix of Gloucester cyclocross event was held on September 28 and 29th in the historical fishing village of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which is known as “America’s Oldest Seaport.” This northeast region of the states is known for its cross racing. It’s produced such well known racers such as Tim Johnson and Jeremy Powers. The oceanside course has presented some wide ranging weather conditions for the weekend of racing, however, this year the racers were faced with warm, dry, dusty, and very fast conditions.
Day one saw the women start first. The racing was fast right from the start with Gabriella Durrin (Rapha-Focus)from Great Britain taking the early lead stringing the entire women’s race out. Gaps quickly formed and those who did not make the front group would not have a chance to see the front of the race again. A strong group of 4 pulled clear of the rest of the riders and steadily increased their gap. Durrin was very aggressive over the first few laps with fellow Great Britain and European champ, Helen Wyman of Kona Factory Racing, made some big efforts, putting Durrin and Crystal Anthony of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies on the defensive. However, Elle Anderson of Cal Giant Berry Farms-Specialized looked controlled throughout the race and only Durrin could initially go with Anderson’s winning move. Anderson took the win, 9 seconds ahead of Durrin, with Crystal Anthony coming in 24 seconds later for third. The aggressive Wyman, and last year’s winner, came in 4th at 42 seconds. Anderson’s smooth powerful ride was too much for the women, but the following day was another chance.
The mens race also began lightning fast with Jamey Driscoll of Raleigh-Clement taking the lead from the gun and remaining there for the first 2 laps. His teammate, Ben Bearden looked comfortable and remained in the top 5 until he took over in the middle part of the race. The group behind, fluctuated in numbers as the field struggled to maintain pace. Jeremy Powers of Rapha-Focus and Tim Johnson of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com, both had poor starts and had to work hard to make their way through the front group. Once Johnson was able to make it to the front with teammate Ryan Trebon, looking strong on the day, they had the numbers to put Powers in further trouble as he struggled to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, Trebon suffered a front wheel puncture and this put to rest any plans the Cannondale riders had for the day. With Trebons horsepower gone, Powers was able to bridge. The group rode steadily for the next few laps, allowing Powers to find his rhythm and when he made what was the winning move only Johnson was able to go with him. At this point, Powers was relentless and finished 6 seconds ahead of Johnson.
Tim Johnson had this to say about his race, “I was down on horsepower compared to some of these guys. Ryan Trebon is such a strong rider and a course like today really suits him. The race really started for us around 28 minutes into the race. Unfortunately Ryan had a flat and that put him out of contention. Otherwise, it would have been Ryan and I against Jeremy and we would’ve had a good chance at winning. But as it stood it was just Jeremy and I and its just kind of a tough way to finish the day”
The Raleigh-Clement duo rode an aggressive race with Driscoll edging out teammate Bearden for 3rd and 4th respectfully. Trebon was able to regroup and finished solo in 5th place, 50 seconds down.
The first days racing was incredibly fast leaving riders struggling to keep pace with each tiny mistake made. The following day’s forecast was for the same conditions, which meant each field had their hands full with the smooth fast riding of Anderson and Powers.
Day two saw a course that was not as technical as the race bible described. Apparently, talks with the town didn’t allow challenging run ups and the sandy beach section as in years past. The race organizers did their best to make the course more technical but the weather conditions did not play in their favor. The racing would again be fast on the dry circuit.
The women started with an aggressive Helen Wyman of Kona Factory Racing really forcing the pace from the outset. The front group fluctuated in numbers as the slightest mistake was magnified by the speed of the race. The added effort to chase chase back on expended precious energy which would be the difference on the day. Gabriella Durrin from Great Britain and racing for Rapha-Focus was aggressive and doing what she could to break the race apart but it seemed to be her own undoing as she faded as the race progressed. Meanwhile, her countryman Wyman, settled onto Elle Anderson’s, Cal Giant Berry Farms-Specialized, wheel and would not come around. Clearly Wyman had a different strategy for the day and she was not going to deviate from her plan. However, Anderson took the pace up and her smooth powerful riding was just too much for Wyman to handle. Anderson took her second win, Wyman came in 6 second later for second and she had this to say about today’s race, “I had a better day today. My plan was to sit second wheel the entire day but I really can’t always do that. But I tried to stay second wheel and with two to go I went to the front and Elle came with me so I thought again, sit second wheel. Then on the last lap she gapped me a bit, I took a silly line and I had to work so hard to get back up to her that when I did she just put one bit of effort in and that’s all it took. But fair play to Elle she’s very tactically astute so its good for America that there’s another good strong rider coming through.”
Meredith Miller of Cal Giant Berry Farms-Specialized had a much better day and finished 21 seconds down on her teammate to claim third. Durrin crossed the line to take fourth over a solid riding Crystal Anthony of Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies.
The men’s race saw a more tactical affair. A front group formed almost immediately with Jamey Driscoll and Ben Berden of Raleigh-Clement along with Ryan Trebon and Tim Johnson of Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com. This brought more team tactics to the isolated riders like Powers of Rapha-Focus and Jeremy Durrin of Optum Pro Cycling. Powers seemed more in control compared to day one and remained calm as it seemed everyone in the front group took turns in attacking and forcing the pace. Johnson also seemed very much in control and never was out of the top 5. The pace was unrelenting and it seemed that the front group could shatter at any moment. Trebon put in a few attacks with the final one taking Berden with him. Johnson was able to bridge to his teammate which forced Powers to react. With 3 laps to go Johnson attacked hard and opened up an 11 second gap. Again, Powers had to work hard to close the gap which Trebon was able to do as well leaving three riders together for the final lap. Powers put in a strong attack at the start of the final lap which stretched the duo of Johnson and Trebon. Johnson had to make a bike change on this final lap but Powers seemed to have that extra gear to take the win. Trebon took 2nd with Johnson rounding out the podium. Berden rode aggressively consistently all weekend to take a well earned 4th place.
Powers had this to say about his race, “Today was a hard fought battle. Tim took his digs and then I waited for my turn. I tried to put it to him on the last two laps. He was riding really well and I only got a few seconds on him at the end. You could see that it was so fast and every single little bobble counted, one second here, one second there. That’s what made the difference today. It’s making those guys make mistakes and capitalizing on it. Today was such a big group that you had to wait and think like a real biker racer on a day like today.”
Gloucester didn’t produce its usual mud and European style of racing as it has in the past but it didn’t disappoint either. The fast dry and dusty circuits made for some aggressive, tactical and incredibly fast racing. Both Anderson and Powers swept the weekend with smooth, consistent, and powerful riding and it was a pleasure to watch.