Top cyclo-cross racers up and down the East Coast of the US will get their second Thanksgiving feast Saturday when they line up for one of the traditional events on the calendar, round #5 of the Verge New England championships in Sterling, Massachusetts.
The course designed by Tom Stevens features a start on a cinder running track. A short climb with barriers and a difficult hilltop turn follow. Then it's on to a difficult run-up followed by a fast descent and the dreaded Horse Jump. Then the course heads into a series of grass corners, with some off-camber surprises and barriers before returning to a paved road and the running track.
"I set it up so the flow of the race allows riders to go very hard, but then get a forced recovery on the downhills and through the technical corners. So you get a bit of a rest so that when you get out on the open field again, you can light it up," Stevens said.
The top competition will battle for the event win and the series leader's jersey. With the holiday week bringing many top riders back home to New England, some last minute entries are expected in all categories.
In the elite men's race, series leader Jesse Anthony (Jamis) will be looking for his third win of the series. He'll face some tough competition from Mark McCormack (Cliff Bar), who is third in the series rankings. Adam Myerson (NERAC), Jeremy Powers (Cyclocrossworld.com), who won the first Verge New England series event in Gloucester, and multi-time national champ Tim Johnson (Cannondale-Cyclocrossworld.com-Leer) will give them a challenge.
The elite women's race will be without series leader Lyne Bessette, who will be racing the World Cup in Europe, so it will be up to fourth-ranked Maureen Bruno-Roy, second-ranked Ridley's Rebecca Wellons, Amy Wallace (Richard Sachs-RGM Watches) and Anna Milkowski (Kona-Velo Bella) to do battle.
Wellons had a break-out race at Sterling last year, and has been on a roll ever since. "It was at that race when I finally began to believe in myself, so I have good feelings about this race," Wellons said.
This year's Bay State Cyclo-cross is in memory of Stefan Hesselberg, a talented rider, musician and all-around respected guy who passed away this summer. Hesselberg was a long-standing member of the Berkshire Cycling Association and would have been 50 this year. For more information, visit www.necyclocross.com.